Kind of officially kicking off the Mountain bike race season here in California is the first US Cup race, Vail Lake out in Temecula. Race day provided absolutely perfect weather, if you were going to be lounging on the beach all day, but for racing it was hotter, and drier than hell. I overheard several reports that it was over 100 degrees at the top of one of the climbs.
I was super anxious for this race as it was the first one since ive been training with Trevor Glavin as my coach, I basically had no idea where I was on my fitness. To top things off I had to race against my good buddy Kurt Gensheimer, who is an absolute hammer!
I hitched a ride up there with my buddy Dave Staiton and we met up with Len Geiger, who was up there earlier pre-riding the course with some friends. Got in a good 20 minute warm-up with everyone and discussed the bottle handoff/hydrating situation. Lucky for me Len wasn’t racing and being as my bike only has 1 bottle cage he was going to hand me a bottle every lap packed with infinit nutrition”If I needed it”
Cat 1 SS started the same time as the 20year old age group, which helps on the SS if you can grab a wheel of a faster geared rider. Right out of the gate Kurt jumped into the lead and I hung on his wheel as best I could while we steadily jumped from one group of riders to the next. I sat on Kurts wheel for the first 2 or so miles, and right before the first real climb I let him know it was coming, and to try to get a good recovery in. Kurt recommended that I lead since I know the course a little better, and I just figured we would take turns pulling each other until the last lap or so. Turns out that he never caught back up to me at the top of the climb, and seeing the chance for a win I just started going for it.
The course at Vail lake, like always, is a super fast fun course that isn’t very technical and has shorter punchier climbs, all in all a great race course. I was able to hold onto some geared wheels through the rest of the first lap and coming into the water bottle exchange i noticed a weird noise coming out of my rear wheel. I stopped to check it out with Len and turns out I had a busted spoke. To Lens quick inspection he said the butt end of the spoke had fallen out and it appeared as though I only had about 3 inches sticking out of the nipple. So I thought I was set. After starting to ride again I thought it might be a better idea to try to break the rest of the spoke off, so I hopped of and started bending it back and forth to try to snap it a little close to the nipple. This didn’t work. It only created a sharp ‘J’ that looked like it would be perfect for puncturing my tire on a turn. So I straightened it back out and took off again. Then about a mile later I heard the same noise, and starting to get on my nerves so I hoped off again to solve the problem. Turns out the butt end of the spoke was still in there rattling around, and hadn’t fallen out. I somehow managed to fish out the broken spoke without wasting too many more minutes and was once again on my way.
Got a few fast wheels on the flats that really helped my time out on the second lap, and everything was going fine since the spoke incident, until I started to feel a little twinge in my right calf and quad. Then at the beginning of the third lap, and out of infinit and just on gatorade I started to feel small cramps coming on everywhere in both legs. Knew I had to try to use my body weight the rest of the race and really couldn’t push it, I thought my lead would be gone. Cramps got worse as the lap went on, including a couple full leg lock-ups where I wasn’t even able to clip into my pedals. Any second now, I thought Kurt was going to be passing me like I was standing still!
I somehow managed to get through all the climbs and cramps and finish the third lap. And was able to hang on for a win at the season opener. Including the spoke debacle my overall time was 2:01:25, finishing over second place by all most 5 minutes. Considering this was more just a training race and to see how everything has been going I am pretty stoked. Its great to see how all the hardwork and proper training can translate into results.
Next race Sea Otter!