(if anyone knows where I can find pictures from the race, that would be awesome! for now, you can read my description of my first mountain bike race with rad pics of racing cross)
Well, I have done a couple collegiate races a couple years ago but I don’t count those because I was ill equipped and racing mountain with road shoes and pedals. So I will count this as my first real mountain race. I was really quite nervous going into the race because I really had no idea what to expect and how fast I could go on a mountain bike in general. I did a couple easy rides in the woods, with Jeremy Powers’ super nice carbon fiber Focus Raven, a few days before the race to get used to riding an upright bike with big knobby tires.
I decided to car pool with the competition, Justin Lindine, and try to get inside his head as much as possible so I could ultimately have him beat before the race starts. Hes a pretty calm and collected guy and we did a lap on the course and we shredded pretty fast around the very non technical course. After that we were back at registration and seeing who the competition of the day would be. Thoughts were running through my head with every fast guy I saw. “SHIT! Brian Willichoski is here… I remember that time he ripped my legs off at ice weasels”. “O damn, Phil Wong races mountain bikes?? hes going to crush my soul”. “I better not lose to Colin Ruetur, I will never live that down”. Yea, I was freaking out slightly in my head because I can go semi-fast on my cross bike and beat a lot of these guys, but mountain bikes have flat bars, big tires and disc breaks…. A very different ball game.
After the pre-race announcements I decided I was going to be the first guy to line up to guarantee myself a good start. I know I can start fast in cyclocross races and I heard that Seamus Powell loves to go out at a million miles an hour. So I went out super hard got on Seamus’ wheel and held on for dear life as we went faster than I could have ever imagined going through some really tight single track… I think he kept thinking he had dropped me through sections as he kept looking over his shoulder, but nope!!! I was still there and feeling really good. It wasn’t until about 3/4 of the way through the first lap that we hit a technical uphill that I couldn’t ride but he could and he put in about 10 seconds into me up that.. I chased my butt off and got about 5 seconds away from him coming through the first lap.
A little later Phil Wong came up to me and we were hanging out in some technical sections chatting about my trip to Belgium and the fall cyclocross season and what he was doing getting into mountain bikes… Then we hit another technical up hill section with roots and logs and he was powering off at the speed of light!! Thanks for hanging out with me PHIL!!! Lindine was nowhere in sight at this point by the way! YES I AM GOING TO TAKE DOWN THE HONEY BADGER IN HIS OWN ENVIRONMENT!
I rode around by myself in no mans land trying not to get depressed and lonely because I had no idea where I was. The next lap Lindine and some other guy caught me… So I hung out with them and started picking up my pace A LOT! The guy that I didnt know attacked lindine really hard and dropped both of us… I chased lindine around and yelled at him to fall down so I could catch him and then he did! HA! what a sucker. Now I had like a 15 second lead on him and was thinking to myself “IM GUNNA BEAT LINDINE!!!!!!!!!” and I got really excited and pedaled wicked hard and tried to figure out how to go around lapped traffic. This is a lot harder than i could ever imagine. I was shredding really hard and came up behind Cathy Rowell and politely asked her if I could pass on the outside. I did, and then completely wiped out in the next corner and she passed me back… That was fun! Now lindine was really on my tail and I think he was hungry for some shredding in the mud. He came around me and I hung on for dear life for a while and then he dropped me in a technical section with lots of mud and up hill pedaling with roots. I guess im not good at pedaling fast up hills with obstacles in the way, I will work on that.
I rolled into the finish line not far behind the Honey Badger for 5th place. Phil Wong won the race, and Seamus came in second. I am pretty pleased with my race since it got really sloppy and im not a mountain biker. I will now work on getting the mud out of my eyes and ears for the next two days. I also need a full body massage after that effort. It was really fun, but it was also very uncomfortable and hard at the same time. It was basically like doing a really long cross race. So many little sprints and dismounting and falling on the ground.
This is a pic of my first attempt at a race. Notice the shoes and Uri’s stache!! (circa 2010)
Amazing time out there! I hope to be out for some more this year. Thanks for all the cheering out on the course!