Sunday, April 21, 2013

MORCS Clear Creek Challenge XC

2013 marks my latest start to the racing season since i began racing in early 2000! There are multiple reasons for such a late start, but i guess they are all just part of life! My time continues to be absorbed by travel due to work, WORK, and family duties. So, after missing the first two races that i had put on my schedule because of work and bad weather, i finally got lucky with both and had a chance to sneak over to Oxford, MS and race there second race of the newly formed MORCS.

A couple things to note...
  • This was a true test for me as i really have no clue as to how my fitness is. I know I'm getting stronger based on my workout numbers but you never know how things will play out when you're going full gas for 2+hrs.
  • I was also on a loaner bike that i had never been on until Saturday before the race. Jonathan @ Cahaba Cycles hooked me up with his own Santa Cruz Highball 29er carbon hardtail for the race since my race bike is injured.

The weather for the weekend was perfect with sunny skies and warm temps. Clear Creek Rec Area has great campgrounds with clean bathrooms, so it was an easy decision to camp and be right by the race start. With everything in full bloom, the green on the trees is a brilliant emerald green and really is beautiful to be surrounded by while in the woods.

Race day morning greeted us with cool temps and a very laid back vibe. after an lite breakfast of granola and milk along as a cup (or two) of coffee, we slowly broke down camp and got ready for the race. After i was dressed and spinning around warming up, i thought about what my plan was for the race. I knew the compo was slim and that really, Andrew Sorey was probably the fastest guy on the line. He's also young and i know he is always wanting to beat me, so i knew he would try and set the pace early and gap me. So, my plan was to let him do just that...lead the first lap and if my legs were able to respond after lap 1, I would put some work in on the 2nd lap. Each lap was 13 miles, so longer laps than normal but we were only doing 2, so overall the race was shorter than normal! (thank goodness) I warmed up for about 25min with a few openers and toed the line with about 10min to spare.

Once the gun went off, things went exactly how i expected. Andrew went hard and took the hole shot.I slotted in behind him and stayed tight on his wheel. we quickly created a gap on the rest of the cat 1's and continued to distance ourselves from them. we were going hard but i was very comfy with the pace and just tried to stay steady in my efforts. Andrew is tall and pretty powerful and was really pushing the pace on some of the flatter sections of the trail but every time things went uphill, i would quickly roll right up on his wheel. As we quickly railed the super sweet flowing trails of Clear Creek i started to thing about how I wanted lap 2 to go.

as we came through the transition area Andrew pulled off the front to grab his feed, i rolled through to the front. i didn't accelerate though and kept the pace the same. we were together as we entered the woods for the second time and were rolling fast. on the first climb, i punched it just a tad to see what would happen and immediately got a 5 sec gap. i decided to increase the tempo just a bit and within in 5min of steady riding, Andrew was out of sight. I knew i had the gas to keep it going and just rode. Things were pretty uneventful after that and i would ride solo for the rest of the race to take my first W of the year.

I love the unique awards from races these days!

A couple highlights for me...
1. I loved the Santa Cruz Highball!! very nimble and snappy in tight trails and climbed great!
2. After a couple months of consistent training, my fitness is starting to return and that's very rewarding to see. Thanks Coach!
3. This is my first XC win in quite a long time and it felt great to stand atop the podium again!
4. The Clear Creek trails are super fun! They were very well built and flow great!