My three week hiatus from racing has also left an unecessary void in my blog posting. Over the past few weeks I got to do some long ass kicking rides, averaging about 5 to 6 hours every other day at a rather high tempo. Some were on the good ol mountain bike and the others on the road, but all were equally fun. It was a bit of a relief to not have to plan my week around the usual weekend race, but the actual racing was missed along with my friends who I usually go to play with on the weekend. So besides the riding, I've just been taking it easy and harvested two gallons of huckleberries which will soon become the juice from which I will create 4 gallons of wine. In 6 to 10 months it should be drinkable and hopefully tasty.
On to Mt. Snow...
On Wednesday I packed my car for the weekend and got my Rush and Scalpel ready to go. The Rush was packed to be ridden with Rob at Jim Thorpe (because I know I will break something riding there) and the Scalpel for the sufferfest at Mt. Snow. After the 3.5 hour ride though boulder fields and breaking pedals (told you) I followed Rob back to Nazareth to meet up with Matt around 10:30 ish pm. After a little nap we would pack up Matt's gear into my car and go northbound. The drive went rather smoothly until we were just about there when my auto declared it was having some engine trouble via the annoying little light beneath the speedometer. Other than that there were no noticeable problems and I became paranoid until finally returning home days later.
We got to Mt. Snow just in time to watch A-ron and Karl go at it in the U23 race. During the race we chilled with Martin in the feed zone and took on the role of superfans whilst screaming for our friends to pedal harder even though they were already going as hard as humanly possible. Matt and Martin were both scheduled to race on Friday (another fun day filled with screaming) in the Semi-Pro class and I would hit up the Pro race the following day.
The night before my race I went with my Uncle Dave and cousin, Dave to go visit our friend Trey further up North. Upon waking up the morning of the race I had already gotten the nervous jitters. I couldn't wait to go out there and tear things apart. I sat during breakfast just running the race through my head over and over until I could almost feel the pain from the climbs and the thrills from descending. Shortly we would head back to the venue so I could prepare my bottles, get kitted up, and go for a long slow warm up. With the heat boing in the high 80's I resisted engaging in any kind of hard efforts before the start. I wanted to start with a full tank and leave everything out there on the course. Its almost time to race. My call up provides some sweet positioning at the back of the pack, but I don't really care because I plan on riding steady. No super hard starting for me. Instead I'll watch as everyone tries to kill each other in the first 6 minutes as they fight for the best position. At the top of the first climb I begin to question this strategy but hold true to it as I find myself 3rd from last. I descend, then already start to make effortless passes on the gradual climb which leads to a steep ski slope climb. On the steep climb there are too many people to find a good line, so its back off the bike and running. I hop back on and throw down the loudest motorcycle noise I can as I pass out 5 or 6 racers (there's no other place more suitable for antics than the National Championships). I continued to make advances all the way to the top of the course then held my own on the downhill. The next few laps were similar, but with bigger and bigger rushes of adrenaline. When I found out that I was in the top 20 the pain just went away. I didn't know I was doing so well and suddenly became determined to chase down anyone who was up ahead. After gaining places every lap I was finally brought to a hault finishing 15th for the day! My best XC performance prior to this was last year in AZ where I finished in the 30's. I'm still having a hard time believing that this result actually happened as it opens up even more opportunities. I no longer see myself as a middle of the pack racer in Pro XC events, but as someone who has the potential to continually improve. I hope this builds some momentum for the following weeks racing at the Wilderness 101 and 24 hour Nationals. Thanks to everyone for cheering. That really kicked ass!