Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back in Colorado

It's been a little over a week since my last post and quite a bit has happened as well. Since I left my parents up in the adirondacks of New York and headed back down to the familiar catskills I spent a lot of time just relaxing and preparing for the Pro XCT finals at Windham Ski Resort in Windham, NY.

Of the 5 days of the normal work week I spent 3 of them up at the mountain riding the course and trying to get a rhythm on it. Turns out it paid off pretty well, unfortunately you can't see that from my finishing results, but during my brief interlude in the race I knew things were going well.

Quick Race Report: knowing how short the course was and how much I would really need to be have my engine running on all cylinders for the start I opted for the slightly longer warm up, something that has definitely helped me in the past for the harder events. Fortunately I also was able to stay cool during my warm up by staying in the shade and not really pushing too hard at all until my ritual pre race efforts roughly 15 minutes before call ups begin. I was feeling good and ready to go by the time we lined up.

Race started in the parking lot on the pavement at the front of the resort building this year. Unfortunately something that has always bothered me is the fact that so many mountain bike racers (whether they are pro or not) seem to have difficulty riding fast in a large group. After nearly being wrapped up in 2 crashes before even hitting the dirt (maybe 500 ft of pavement total at this point) I started to make my way up the hill and towards the first bottleneck where my two years of cross racing really paid off. Hit the bottleneck running and just booked it by a bunch of guys trying to figure out what to do. As we kept heading up the mountain I noticed my legs started to feel better and better and I was just crushing the gears and feeling really smooth as a bike rider, while all the while hacking up copious amounts of dust and mucus from the start and feeling in general pretty asthmatic in the long department.

After a solid 5-7 minutes of climbing up the mountain we hit the last climb up a short exposed fire road before the ripping fast descent. I set about setting a blistering pace for the group I was with and then suddenly I felt that warm fuzzy feeling all over the body. From experience I knew my body was overheating. Quickly grabbing for my bottle I slugged back some Heed and backed off quite a bit trying to save some and get cool before having to head back up the climb again.

After riding the descent conservatively on the first lap I came around and proceeded to hit it as hard as I could without overheating again like on the first lap. I cleared the top and started heading down. When you are not racing at the front of the race and just trying to survive one great tip is to remember why you started racing in the first place - it is FUN! So I started jumping off stuff on the descent and having a generally good time.

As I reached the bottom I thought for sure I was going to be pulled for falling below the 80% rule and at the same time saw a few riders just ahead soft pedaling, ok... definitely going to get pulled might as well make up every spot I can in the last 1000 meters. I really laid the hammer down coming around the parking lot loop and up the subsequent power climbs catching 2 guys and just cruising only to come up over the last little power climb to the finish and not hear the whistle.... Oh CRAP! I have another lap to do and I just burned every match I had left.

Last lap I thought, just stay alive.... that is all you have to do, stay alive. I cruised the last lap and ended up with a 60th place finish of 63 finishers and somewhere in the realm of 70-75 starters, on par with the rest of my Pro XCT results.

Even though this was not a great result it was definitely a race where I felt like I really deserved to be a professional on the race circuit. My legs felt good, I could actually ride up the mountain, unlike at Mount Snow. The biggest hurdle of the day was the heat, something I have struggled with consistently for the last 2 years and have had to spend multiple races sitting on the side of the trail trying to get my body to cool off.

I am coming into the tail end of the season now with some unfinished business at the Mountain States Cups before Cross season officially begins, maybe I can pull something out for the last couple of races and score some USA Cycling rank points before the end of the year.

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