With the second part of the season only three weeks away Ive been trying to get in as much racing and high intensity in as I can, and holy hell is it tough. Considering that the next two Pro XCT events are at altitude Ive been trying to get in as much thin air training as I can, and this past weekend I went up and raced at Big Bear. Depending on who you ask its between 7,000 and 9,000 feet up there. To make things worse there air has basically no humidity in it!
The course starts with a 10 or so minute climb, I truthfully have no idea how long it is because I am usually too oxygen depleted to look down at the Garmin. It could be 2 minutes for all I know but it feels like 25mins. Shortly into the race 5 of us had a little gap, but knowing how bad you can implode at altitude I had to back off for fear of finishing dead last if I didn’t.
This left me around 6th place or so, but once I gathered my thoughts and surroundings, it turned out we are only 30 minutes into the race. Being 25 or so miles long I knew we still had about an hour left of racing. I started putting in some good efforts and riding right at my limits making sure to not overcook it in the thin air.
I shortly started reeling in a few guys and was sitting in third. I knew the two off the front probably weren’t that catchable but I figured I’d give it a go. The trails at this point were mostly flowy, loose, techy singltrack with a lot of switchbacks and the Focus 650 was a definite advantage over 29″ wheels. I saw Jason Ranoa from SoCal endurance about an hour into the race and he said the two leaders had about 2:30 on me. It would be tough but I thought if I rode mistake free and put in some good efforts I could catch them.
Then with about 5-8 or so miles to go I hit traffic from the lower categories who were doing a shortened version of the course, and unfortunately we were on single track. While some racers where stoked to slow down and allow you to pass the majority of the riders weren’t to keen about letting you by. Even after asking nicely and understanding they are racing as well, it was still tough. I could only hope the leaders were slowed down as much as I was. This continued for the rest of the race and really is quite a bummer. It just doesn’t allow you to get into a good flow and concentrate when you have to constantly be talking to people and passing.
I finished 3rd, and while it would have been huge to reel the leaders back in (as they are legit pros) I will just never truly know. But its all good the main goal was to get some racing in, and this one was at altitude to top it off. Ive got a knarly cough to back up my effort from yesterday too, thanks to an untimely gel that didn’t want to go down, or come back out for that matter. Im gonna keep getting in as much racing as I can before I depart for Montana on the 16/17th.