US Cup Triple Crown Finale

I spent the last weekend up in Santa Ynez (Los Olivos actually) for the season finale of the US Cups triple crown event.  Seemed like it was gonna be a good weekend of racing with Short Track and Super D on Saturday, and XC on Sunday.

I left early Saturday morning and made it up there with plenty of time to spare even after hitting some traffic just before Carpinteria.  I paid the ridiculous registration fee (thanks to Velo Hangar for some help there) for the triple crown series and setoff to warm up pre riding the Super D course.  Then toed the line for the Short Track race.

The Short Track format is 15 minutes plus one lap, seems easy enough right?  There was one short climb that occurred after a long straightaway into a head wind, then another straight away to a quick down then a couple turns, a lap takes about 3-4 minutes.  I had a good start and sat third or so wheel for the first couple of laps.  Because of the headwind the group stayed together for most of the race.

There were a few position changes as the race went on, then when I thought we had two and a half laps left I decided to test the field a little and start mixing it up.  I jumped to the front on the short climb and attacked.  Thanks to the insane power transfer of the Focus’ seat stays I had a small gap at the top climb, albeit only a couple seconds but thats all I wanted to know for now.  I knew that doing this would have me pulling the group into the wind the next go around which is why I wanted to do it with two to go then sit in and attack and hopefully hold for the win on the last lap.

As I was pulling the group through the start/finish we got the last lap signal, plan foiled!  No one was coming around to put their nose in the wind either.  So I kept it fairly mellow then started to string it out a little bit before the climb this time to try and prevent anyone using my own plan against me.  I was able to hold off the attack of Ryan and Cody up the climb, but they both snaked by me on the straightaway afterwards.  I was pretty gassed from my effort and they got a few seconds on me which is all they needed.

We had broken away from the main group and I was able to solo in for third.  Thanks to my season of CX racing for sharpening my race tactics!  I spun around for a few more minutes then went back to the car and stuffed my face with as much pasta and food as I could and relaxed a little before the Super D start.

I did a lot of time killin in the sun up there

The Super D course was one of the longer ones this season, and had a good bit of climbing in it.  It wasn’t technical in a super rocky sense but in a loose dirt, high speed off camber turns kinda thing.  I managed to put a decent run together with a couple small mistakes and sneaked by with a 4th place, and from what I could tell was the only one competing on my XC hardtail too.

Sunday was finally time for the real fun to begin, with the field twice as big as saturday and a lot of fresh legs, I knew I was in for some pain.  Right away once I started warming up I could tell that I wasn’t totally feeling it or into racing that much.  I got to the line with about 4 minutes until start time and was pretty disappointed to find that some racers who never faired too well were hogging the front line since there weren’t any call ups today.  Thats fine and all just don’t loose the wheel of the person in front of you when it starts to get real and we begin to ascend towards the skyline.

But of course, when we hit the first climb there was an almost immediate split of Siegel and Taberlay.  Well, ok then, there were still a couple strong riders in the lot remaining, I was in about 9th, then 3rd and 4th started pulling away from what could barely be called a group anymore.  It took a lot of effort to get by these guys and finally managed to get away from everyone else in 6th on the wheel of 5th.  Unfortunately neither one of us were feeling spectacular and couldn’t gain too much ground on Cody and Ryan in the 3rd and 4th position as they were working pretty good together.

So on the start of the second lap I attacked on the first climb and managed to get a little gap and expand it to a minute for a 5th place finish.  At one point I had almost reeled in the next two riders but just didn’t have the legs from all the racing the previous day.

This is right when I started to close the gap a little on 3rd and 4th, see how close they are!

I ended up 3rd in the triple crown for that weekend, and second for the overall series triple crown.  I was stoked there was actually a payout for once at a US Cup, and that was for the overalls!  Or so thats what I thought, unfortunately we were told they would not be cutting us checks as some criteria wasnt met or something, I get it I guess.  But warn us of that criteria ahead of time otherwise I probably wouldn’t have wasted my time and money to drive up there for some more generic medals and tin trophies.  But all in all it was a fun weekend of racing with good people and some fun trails.

The highlight of my trip would probably actually be running into Kurt, who was riding his bike from San Diego to Monterey, just outside of Los Olivos on the side of the 154.  How random, I was stoked to see him and offered him a nutella and jelly french toast sandwich which he somehow managed to choke down as we talked about our plans for Sea Otter.  Good shit.

Kurt chowin’ down
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