Wow it's been a while since I posted a blog huh? :)
Not much time for blogging between work, training, and support for the wife. In the interest of keeping this post of reasonable length, I am going to leave out lots of stuff. Suffice it to say that I have been super busy.
1) I have a new team for the year. I am racing for Velosport now. This was my best option for the year to be affiliated with Allison's primary sponsor Rock N' Road Cyclery. Velosport is a great club team with a huge membership, and Rock N' Road is a killer shop with cool people and sweet merchandise.
2) I got to purchase new shoes for this season through the team. I bought Sworks MTB shoes. They are definitely a step up from the Specialized BG Pro shoes I had last year. I then gave these pimp new shoes to the podiatrist and they had custom inserts made to try and help me get through this race season. With a little luck, I won't have to have surgery on my foot till the fall!
I am anxiously awaiting some other stuff I ordered through the team deal like a new Sworks helmet! :)
3) Allison got her new bike. That may not sound like something that means a whole lot to me, but it does! It means I get sloppy seconds on her Sworks Epic from last year! This bike rocks in every way! (more on that later)
On to the race...
We were worried about the conditions and weather. Fortunately none of that was an issue at all! We drove down to Lake Morena in the AM and set up our pits.
Thanks to Matt at Rock N' Road for the awesome tent and all of his support for Allison's racing, we are super stoked to have such a cool sponsor!
After getting set up we hung out and chatted with all the familiar race people that we haven't seen since last year for the most part.
Eventually it was time to suit up and go warm up.
I was a bit slow to warm up due to the previous day's efforts (we did a moderate 3.5 hrs on the road in the rain, wind, and cold on Saturday). I was also a bit nervous about the course. We didn't pre-ride and I was unsure as to how much of the course would come back to me from last year's race. I also figured that the severe weather might have had a negative impact on the course and was a bit concerned about hitting the descents at race pace without a pre-ride.
After a bit of warming up we lined up and were off. I think the majority of the group was really just interested in what Gary Douville was going to do. We were all bunched up and riding at what felt like a recreational pace. I was having fun chatting with the guys and cracking jokes. Funny how some people take racing so seriously... lighten up my brothers! :) As we approached the climb I started to sing to a familiar tune, "Here comes the climb, do do do do, Here comes the climb..." I was having a grand old time but I knew the pain was coming.
Gary took off just before the bottom of the climb. A chase group formed behind him and I was behind that group a bit. Hard to tell who I was passing as the climb went on, but I think some of the guys started popping. Griffith fell back through our group from the 30-34 guys as he had a leaking tire and I told him if he needed a tube that there was one in my bag at the top (apparently he got it fixed without my tube).
Hitting the single track the passing started right away. At first I was trying to be patient, but then someone passed me while I was waiting... I don't like losing spots on a descent to people who I would drop on an open trail so I started forcing the issue a bit. I recognized quite a few faces from the start line as I worked my way along and knew I was moving up through the field, but it honestly didn't matter. The times when I didn't have someone holding me up I was having a BLAST! The descents are so awesome. Big moto style features, awesome flow... I love this course!!!! I did get caught being lazy once and almost got bucked over the bars. Riding a full suspension XC bike is a bit different than the HT, on my old Sworks HT I would never get close to that complacent! :)
When we got to the bottom of the single track I could see Nick from Felt Bikes up ahead. It was cool seeing him on course, he even tried to help me out as I passed him by giving me a little shove up the hill! :) The HAB sucks. I don't like walking next to my bike, but something was missing?! Then it dawned on me, my foot wasn't killing me! The combination of a cortisone shot on Friday and my new shoes/inserts was working wonders and I was nearly pain free as I pushed my bike. I contemplated jogging, then shot that idea down with a quickness! :)
The next section was really fast and I continued to make passes. Unfortunately what goes down must go up. I started feeling the race effort and made the decision to go for a more conservative approach to the climbs (need to do them all again) so I watched a few riders that I had passed go by. I stayed within myself and kept as steady of a pace as possible.
On the second lap passing was less frequent. It wasn't any easier though as the people that I was passing all belonged out on the pointy end of the race. I did manage to pass a few and was swapping positions with several guys in my AG throughout the lap. Unfortunately my cramps kept me from feeling like I was racing. It was more like just a hard ride.
This time on the climb my saddle had dropped considerably (2" or so) which really put the hurt on me when combined with the cramps. I struggled to hold position but lost several a couple spots. One of the guys in my class asked if he could borrow my skills on the descent as he went by. I called out to him up ahead that it was fine with me if I could borrow his legs on the climb!
Knowing that the final descent was my last chance to battle for position I attacked it full on. Unfortunately for me this descent was littered with lower category riders. Many people off and walking in places where I was blasting through. I took some risks but could have been MUCH faster without the roadblocks.
My personal favorite exchange... I came up on a group of three riders. I started asking for passes and the guy didn't seem willing (I don't understand this concept, if someone is coming up on me on a climb I don't weave all over and block them). I finally forced the pass and the guy yelled, "Where do you think you are going to go?" I proceeded to quickly pass both the people in front of him and then blast down the hill. I am going to the finish line buddy!!!!!
Once onto the flats I could only muster a little bit of a TT effort before my legs started locking and I was forced to sit up. I did my best to finish strong. I am happy with a fifth place finish (21 started in my AG).
All in all I had a great race! I bonded with my new race bike (Allison insists it is still hers despite her new XX equipped Sworks Epic). I think I am learning more about pacing and efforts. I hope that maybe I will be able to step up my game a bit this year. Certainly my competition has not let up!
I can't wait to see what the new Bonelli course looks like. Hoping to get a preview on Saturday. Maybe I can break my streak of poor performances at that venue! :