The NorthEast

Getting this one written while its fresh in my mind!  It’s currently raining in East Hampton, Mass. and I’ve gone to just about every coffee/bakery in a 10 mile radius.  It’s the day after the Catamount classic XC race in Vermont and Ive spent a good bit of the day contemplating this past season and trying to plan for next year.

I took a red-eye out of San Diego on Wednesday night, something I told myself I would never do again, and flew into Conneticut.  I was scooped up by J-Pows wife, Emily, and headed to their home in Massachusetts.  I got in, built my bike, ate some pastries, drank coffee, then met Jeremy for a tour of the local trails.  They were a 3 minute pedal away and super fun!  We had a killer dinner that night, then packed up the truck and headed to Vermont the next day.

We got up to Catamount around 3 and ran into Spencer Paxson of Kona, and rode a few laps.  Spencer failed to mention any of the ‘A-line’ options and in mid conversation we found ourselves gapping some jumps and hitting some drops.  It was actually a nice way to be introduced to the obstacles, rather than standing around looking at them, trying to guess how much speed, and what lines to take.  This was the no BS approach; ohh hey by the way in the next .5 seconds you need to clear a 5 foot gap, or launch off a 3 foot drop.  The course had a decent mixture of fun singletrack through the trees, some wide-open turns through grassy fields, good technical sections, and the jumps/gaps/drops.  There was maybe a little too much of the grass, but it actually provided great opportunities for passing.

I had a decent call-up of 25th, but considering the course the start wasn’t as crucial as past races.  I knew warming up that I was a bit off and didn’t quite feel the way you want to on race day.  I didn’t really go forwards or backwards at the start, so that was OK.  I knew I just had to ride the race as best as I could and keep it going for the full 1:40 or so.  Some guys passed me, I passed some guys, yo-yoed with some other racers and ended up right where I started in 25th.  I had a goal of top 15 (dream of 10) in this race and I know it was definitely possible, pretty bummed at how it all played out but there is a lot to learn about traveling and racing.

Considering this is my first season chasing the tour, and the top mountain bikers in the country I think I did OK.  I had maybe set my goals a little too high for the season, but was able to attain at least some of them.  Considering the fact that this was one of the biggest mountain bike seasons in the US in years, with lots of international competition, I thinks its ok that not all my goals were met.  I learned a boat load at every race, all while having a good time, and thats whats important.  The second that bike racing is no longer fun, is the second that I stop, but I don’t see that happening for some time.

Huge thanks to J&E Powers for the home stay, I had a great time.  Obviously a big thanks to Ellen, Focus Bikes, Gordon and Laurel at Velo Hangar, Enve Composites, Giro, Skratch labs, Harmony Bars, Citizen Juice and everyone else.  Excited to get back home dust off the Mares CX bike and learn to ride the Focus trail bike, Sam!

 

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Massachusetts river and clouds

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Lots of crazy Canadians down for this one

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Blah, blah, blah ohh 5 foot gap

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Vermont poop truck, literaly

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MOOOOSSSSE!

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Green single track

Checking in on the Bonelli course

I got the chance this past weekend to get out and pre-ride the course with designer Scott Tedro, Sam Schultz, Keegan Swenson and mechanic Paul.  The racing coming up at Bonelli park this weekend (3/15) is going to be huge as it is (i believe) the first time the US has hosted an HC event.  There are a good bit of Euros that have managed to cross the pond to join us which just makes it that much more special.  Check out Sho-airs’ press release… http://uscup.net/up/file/Bonelli_Prerace_Press.pdf

The course is even a little tougher than last year, which is going to be even more brutal coupled with the pace and the heat.  There is a little more technical climbing thrown in, and a new technical section with an ‘A’ line and a ‘B’ line.  This area is sure to cause some chaos, and considering its placement in terms of the finish line may actually be a deciding factor for the winner.

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Looking back down at the ‘A” line

After the technical section of the ‘A’ line there is an off-cambered log section, that looks super sketchy!  The photo below doesn’t really do it justice, and considering the first person to ride it that day (no names mentioned 😉 ) racked themselves when they came unclipped from their pedal, made it seem even more treacherous.

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Dont mess up here, cameras will be watching!

This section is tricky, and comes at a very inconvenient time

Little techy DH section, trickier than it looks.

After getting in some warmup laps we decided to go at one race pace, and holy crap was it brutal.  The course is just relentless, there is no hiding out there anywhere.  The course is fast, coupled with some super steep climbing, and descents that are always keeping you on your toes I think its perfect for this coming weekend.  Lets just hope the temperatures are under 90*!

Scott the snake wrangler

Scott the snake wrangler

Big thanks again to Scott for letting me get in some runs and listening to my feedback.  I have never met anyone so stoked on mountain biking as him and think that in the coming years there is going to be a resurgence of off-road riding.  Also Keegan and Sam were killing out there, hoping for a good race for all of us!

Watch live streaming here…

Women start at 11:15 PST, and Men at 1:45