Sunday, June 10, 2012

I Just Rode Away From Them

Just off the start line left of center rocking the red baggie shorts.
*Photo credit - Pat's Peak

I did, I just rode away from everyone in my age group today in my first ever win in a mountain bike race! I was at Pat's Peak for work this weekend at the mountain bike festival and while planning the trip last week, I was talking with Steph, I told her that I was going to race the Cat 2 (Sport Class) cross country, adding that I was pretty confident I could win it. That confidence was not even challenged today as I broke from the group on the first climb and hit it hard. I definitely put some roadie tactics to work and they played out brilliantly. I got no reaction from the group as I had a look back while I was rounding the pond before entering the very first section of single track. In my warm up course preview this morning, I determined it could/would be won on the first climb, and it was...

The course was a lot of fun, not nearly as hard for me as some people I spoke with felt it was. It was listed as 5.62 miles, with 857 feet of climbing per lap, and there was plenty of climbing (which I absolutely love), with some nice fast downhills, in a classic New England ski area trails type of fashion. It reminded me a lot of the old Mount Snow days. In all my days of racing, there are two highlights that I'll always remember.

Mount Snow 1999 NORBA Nationals - This was my first season of racing bikes and I started with the downhill scene. I raced beginner DH and did really well placing two podium 2nd & 3rd place finishes and ended up second overall for points in the Trail 66 Series for that season. Moving on to Mount Snow the week after I finished the Trail 66, I decided to upgrade a category to Sport DH for my first ever national race. Thankfully, I had a boss at the time that fully supported my endeavors and he gave me the week off to head to Mount Snow and dial in the course in my brain. So I headed off for a few days of practice pre-race. After days of riding, planning and memorizing course lines, watching racers like Leigh Donovan, Tara Llanes, Steve Peat, Cedric Gracia, Myles Rockwell and more ride the lines on that course (I actually learned more from the ladies) I had it nailed! My race run was completely amazing! I had an incredible ride, "flashing" (climber lingo) the entire course! Pedal here, brake there, with flow and finesse. I finished second place in that race (by 3 seconds) and I'll always remember feeling so pumped at how well that race run went for me. My downhill "career" ended the following year after a couple of nasty crashes in my final race of the season, which lead me to blow my Trail 66 standings and miss a podium spot for the overall.

Ripping down the side of a mountain.
*Photo credit - Scott Snyder Photography

Since those days, I've always kept up with biking, and riding mountain bikes has always been my first love, but I've also come to love road riding and more specifically climbing as much as I can on the roadie. Suffering through century's, long suffer fests with riders much faster than me, two mind numbing past ascents of Mount Washington, and a few XC mountain bike races here and there in the last 12 years since my first racing days. This year as part of my preparation for my time goal on Mount Washington, I decided that I would jump into the racing mix with a few early to mid season MTB races, mostly for heart rate training, and some race pace endurance sessions. So far for the season I've got two podiums, a third place finish a few weeks ago, and now my first ever win. 

As the focus now shifts to plenty of time in the saddle going up steep hills, I'm thinking, with a strong mind, the third time (read about the second time here) will be the Charm. Thanks for reading, ride on!

 Top of the podium to yah!

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