Sunday, July 7, 2013

State Championship XC and First Cat 1 Double-Whammy

So about a week before the State Championship XC race I was pressured guilted harrassed about STILL being a Cat 2 on the mountain bike I applied for an upgrade. It was approved. So now I am big time, big balling, and in deep shit. Cat 1 racing is real fast and a good bit longer.

Matt Robbins, the eventual winner and current State Champ did a great write up. He is a great guy, a hard worker, and it has shown for him this year. I didn't enter the race thinking I was racing for second, but thinking about how it would feel to stop his winning streak from the road. I was unsuccessful and don't feel bad about it at all. He works more, harder, and deserved the win. He did a great write up here and I can add a few things:

I broke my chain about 15 minutes before the start. I had been having some bike trouble and I guess my chain was compromised. I was doing some standing starts to figure out what gear I wanted to start in and how many time I wanted to shift/when after starting. Call me crazy, but I came from BMX and know the first 10 pedal strokes can make or break a race.

Luckily, Matt Noe from the Peddler was there and the two of us had a new chain on my bike in 2 minnutes. A real 2 minutes, on the Garmin it was 2 minutes stopped. I made it to the line with a few minutes to spare and tried to calm down.

 When they said "Go" I dropped the hammer and went pretty hard. I was able to go into the woods first, which I could not have been more happy about. I love leading. Throughout the first lap I turned the screws up a little and got rolling really well. There is a rooted, gentle downhill right before the end of the first lap and I used that and the full suspension bike to roll off the front with a 4~second or so gap. Everyone was yelling and cheering and screaming my name because I had a gap. . . so naturally I attacked the connector trail and went into the Blue Trail with a bigger gap.  I decided to keep riding my 1st lap pace at this point. I knew I couldn't stay away at the attack pace for 2 laps but I wanted to make them work hard and not have my line to follow through the tightest portion of the race. I was hoping it would sap them to have to close back down to me. . . bad news, it didn't.

I had opened a can of worms I couldn't close. We rolled a little quicker and kept the pace up, eventually Richie Slagle went by. I knew I couldn't answer the question he was asking. I asked Matt if he wanted to chase and let him by when he wanted. At this point I knew I had 2 guys up the trail who could pop at any moment, hit a tree, taco a wheel, flat/burp a tire. I just laid down my own thing for the rest of the lap and all of lap 3. Within the last 1/4 mile of trail I saw a flash ahead that looked like Richie. Deep inside something clicked. It wasn't a question - I knew I was going to catch him. I laid into that gentle downhill and clacked over all the roots. I yelled to him something along the lines of "Richie we are still racing" and caught onto his wheel coming into a small bridge. The bridge opens up into a small clearing with about 100 feet to the line. Rolling over the bridge I was out of the saddle dumping gears, as soon as we popped off the bridge I went right, put it in the 11 tooth cog and sprinted as hard as I could. I sprinted and threw my bike and just barely got him at the line.

I am not happy with a second, but to lose to someone who works so hard isn't bad. Also, know I had to do my own thing and later in the race it could pay off (going their pace would have just blown me up) and it actually paying off felt great. By the speed and power numbers my sprint was great....25mph on flat grass at a good wattage number for me to sprint, especially after such an effort over the whole race.