Monday, April 14, 2008

Fair Hill XC

Yesterday was the first XC race of the MASS season and to till you the truth I'm glad it's over with. I've not written about it at all, but I've had a lot of questions about the season running thru my head the past few weeks. Everything from is my new 29er the right bike for this type of race, to should I even jump back into XC racing (I've been doing only endurance events the past couple years) to the obvious "am I gonna suck?" Not knowing my competition at all this was my biggest fear/question.

I changed to the endurance events in the first place because I found out they're more what I'm built for. I'm good (or at least better) at getting to my 85-90% level and just staying there for it four, six or twelve. What I was never good at is the quick 60-90 minute all out sprints where if you're not pushing 110% you're done before you hit turn one.

That may have changed.....

I spent a few minutes figuring out the gearing I wanted at the starting line before lining up with the other 40 riders in my class (Vet 1 35-39.) All the Sport classes had very large turn outs, most "waves" had 35 plus racers....and the last thing I wanted to do was get stuck behind slower riders. I have another ways to lose a race myself, I don't want to add one more to I've never been good at working my way thru slower traffic.

Again, that may have changed.....

As I pushed off when the horn for my wave sounds what happens....I roll about an inch. The tacky mud I was standing in was not greatest place to start (note to self...check out the start line conditions too....not just gearing....jackass.)

Even with my "stellar" start I was only sitting in 7-8th place. The first half mile plus was on a gravel/dirt road that was meant to space riders out before entering the single track. Knowing this from my pre ride I wanted to enter the trail where I planned on finishing the race, (hopeful not last) I pushed myself a little harder then I wanted to at first and made my way to the front.

I was sitting in second as I had a mental debate with myself (that's a lose/lose battle) over how hard I wanted to push. Should I sit on this guys wheel and just pace myself or should I keep pushing myself and get around him before we enter the woods? Dude has a miss shift.......question answered, I pull around and enter the trail in first.

We very quickly start catching the Senior 2's that started one minute ahead of us and to my surprise I start making my way thru them very well. I even get a little gap on the others in my group as they get slowed by the traffic. This goes on for 5-10 minutes till I see one of my teammates (with a similar built in front of me) and I have a thought (rare...very rare) that if the riders chasing me did not get a good look at me they may think this guy is/was me and stop pushing if and or when they caught him. So again I make the pass and just keep pushing myself to keep things going.

The second half of the lap things stayed the same, catch someone make the pass, repeat. As I came in after the first lap I knew I had a 30-45 seconds gap on the second place rider....and also knowing I did not want to lose the gap I keep pushing myself to keep a nice steady pace.
On round two of the gravel/dirt road I see Matt (one of Senior 2's) a hundred meters ahead of me just before we enter the trail head again. Knowing he's one of the faster riders in his group I wanted to sit on his wheel and just pace myself on him....but what I did not know (till later) he was fighting a chest cold (still finished very well...huge props dude.) After Matt called me around I just keep the same thing going....catch, pass repeat. I did slow my pace a little because I did not want to blow up, but I keep getting egged on by things.

At the one "technical climb" (if you even want to call it that, just a short/steep climb with a couple roots in it and a ninety degree turn at the top) I took a inside line and passed two riders. As I by I hear one of the spectator yell out "now that's how you f*cking do it right there, f*ck yeah." How can you not get a little pumped after hearing things like that?

Then a minute later I made a pass on a guy that asked "you're a Senior 2 right?" I reply "no Vet 1"....he yells back "Holy F*ck, where'd the Hell did you come from?" Behind you dude, behind you.

I rolled into the finish knowing I'd won....even thou I was shocked I was pretty damn happy. But I was still asking myself why dude was so pumped up about seeing a Vet 1?
After seeing the results posted I think I figured it out. I passed all 32 Senior 2 that started a minute ahead of me and 29 of the Senior 1's that started two minutes ahead of me. That made me feel good too, but I also saw a couple things that scared me.
One I only won by 45 seconds over second place and two the guy that placed third had a second lap time that was over ninety second fast then mine. NINETY seconds me that's a reason to worry.
And even thou I got this....
That ninety seconds is a reason to go get on my bike.


uncadan8 said...

Congrats, man! Sounds like you had a blast, and winning also puts a little icing on the cake. Tear 'em up!

Matt said...


Congrats, that's a great effort.


fatmarc said...

huge dude. huge.

your thought process sounds an awful lot like my own.

best to you, and don't tackle me when you up grade and come by!


Jason said...

great job! congrats!

Travis said...

Thanks guys, it was a good day. Just hoping it was not a fluke thing.


Congrats to you too man, seeing you come arcoss the finish was great...I'm guess you've still got that smile on your face today. Looks like Lefty is pulling his weight now...keep he and Kevin rockin. And with you riding like that there will not be any passing of anybody


Good luck to you this weekend down in Leesburg...already waiting for a blow by blow race report.


Le Blaireau said...

Sweet race. I agree with the crowd pumping you up especially on the climbs where you always find a bit extra when there's someone shouting from the top. don't worry too much about the 90 second faster thing. He probably was crawling in the beginning and then tried to make up time. I made a mistake in one of my first races this season to hold back not know exactly what the racing thing was like. I ended up coming in second and pissed with myself for not pushing 110% all the time. That's XC racing, from the get-go you're on max till you some over the line. Well that's my experience of XC so far... not much as I've only completely 5 races this season... my first season. Keep it up