every accomplishment starts with the decision to try

Well I accomplisd something I never thgouht would happen in my life this past weekend, competing in a Pro XCT mountain bike race.  Due to a sinus/ear infection the week prior and being on antibiotics for the race I was hardly in top form, and at this caliber of racing it definitely shows.  Surprisingly at only around 20 miles, this was the hardest race I have completed to date, worse than Vision Quest on a single speed, and more painful than the Julian Death March on a fixed gear mountain bike (props still to my buddy Chas for talking me into that one)

Due to being under the weather I had trouble even keeping wheels on the parade lap, and about half way through the first lap I was starting to think of the point at which I will drop out and watch the rest of the race; would it be near a good technical section, or over with my friend Len who was nice enough to hand me water bottles during the race.  Then I started thinking of everyone who had helped me get to this point and decided theres no way I could tell them that I didn’t finish, without having a valid excuse that is (fingers were crossed for broken chain)  not to mention all of the trash talking that would have ensued for a DNF.

I never unzip my shirt, thats how much I was suffering.  Photo: PB Creative

This racing is completely different, racers battle for a top 40 position just as hard as if they were racing for a top 10.  You can not make one little mistake, or that is a position, decide to gear down a little for a climb to save some for the end, thats probably three spots.  There is no leeway what-so-ever, its awesome.  Since I didn’t have any pop I just rode as hard as I could the whole time, and if I was feeling OK pass a few people, and when I was feeling crappy let some people pass me.  The course was very brutal, with the only recovery point at the start/finsih area, if you werent going up you were briefly descending a bumpy and technical section that lasted no longer than 3 seconds before you had to go up the next steep pitch.

Still hurting going down, Photo: Jim Wolf

In the end I managed to not get pulled from the race and out of around 60 or so starters I got a 32nd, ended up 16th in the super D and skipped the short track which led to an 18th overall for the triple crown.  Not too bad for my first real race but I know I can do better and am anxiously looking forward to the next one.

Thanks go out to the same awesome people, Ellen the lovely wifey, Gordon and Laurel at the Velo Hangar, my coach T Glavin, and strength and rehab guru Bryan Hill from rehab united.

…and mountain bike season begins!

I’ve been busy having so much fun racing/riding/watching cyclocross for the past few months that I kinda forgot what it was like to ride and race mountain bikes, pretty glad that its as fun as I remember!  I hadn’t been on the mountain bike much over the past few months and was starting to forget how the thing work.  Luckily my buddy Kurt G. and Victor S. decided to put together a local roots mountain bike race series.
The name of the series was the ‘quick ‘n dirty’ and it lived up to its name.  This is the kind of thing that has been missing in bike racing, especially mountain biking which is supposed to have more of a support community and core feel to it.  The races were only $30, the competition was fierce, and the prizes were legit.  It was a great season opener that got everyone used to racing on their mountain bikes again.  Not only were the races successful in attracting a great crowd , but the ‘quick ‘n dirty’ has contributed back to the park system via trail maintenance and good ‘ol cash money.  I managed a 2nd to Phil Tintsman, 3rd to Johnny O’mara and Phil, and a 1st in the three race mini series.
This last sunday was the first race of the US Cup, and I was a bit anxious as this was my first pro race of the season and I had no idea what to expect.  On top of the stress of my first race Ellen came out with her parents Jack and Libby who were in town visiting us, so I couldn’t disappoint them with a crappy result after having flown all the way out here from MD (not to see the race though of course)

Jack, Libby & Jacki
The field was rather small with only 9 or so guys.  I had no problem jumping out in front and letting someone else take the lead, wanting to make sure to stay in the top 3 or 5 as long as I could.  Pedroza soon tired out before the first initial hill, so I went ahead and took charge bringing Pedroza and Jenkins along with me, and forming a gap on the rest of the group.  
It was pretty apparent that Jenkins had pre-ridden the course as he too the lead on the last part of the first lap riding the route very well.  He and Pedroza opened up a small gap on me about a mile from the start/finish.  I didn’t really want to let them go, but I had no idea what was coming next on the course and wanted to save some energy.  
On the second lap Jenkins had a solid lead on me, and was slowly dropping Pedroza, who I managed to catch right near the start/finish.  I could tell he had turned himself inside out trying to ride with Jenkins, and knew I too could drop him if I ride smart.  I let him lead me halfway up the first climb then put in a solid attack and immediately opened up a decent gap.  I kept on the gas for another minute or so and was able to hold him off the rest of the lap for a solid second place.  
Putting in work on Pedroza Photo: PB Creative
The race couldn’t have gone much better considering I just finished building up my new Focus Raven 29er the night before the race.  Big thanks to Velo Hangar for having all the random parts in stock that I needed (as always).  Ive since gotten a few more rides on the bike and gotta say it is one of the best handling, snappiest and quickest accelerating mountain bikes I have ridden, couldn’t be happier with it!  It was also super heart warming to see Jack, Libby and Ellen at the end of my race congratulating me, truly memorable thanks guys!
Phil Beckman was out there and got some awesome shots as always…
Look at that bike! Photo: PB Creative
Tight weedy section Photo: PB Creative
Gonna try to make it to the Keyesville Classic this weekend if life co-operates, hope to see all my riding buddies out there should be a good time.