The 2011 MTB season….that’s a wrap !
The last mountain bike race of 2011 season – The U.S. Collegiate National Championships.
It’s been a long season of racing mountain bikes, one to remember for the good for sure.
I’ve been on quite a few new race venues this year – Missoula, Armstrong’s ranch, Slovakia and a
few more. It’s always sweet to arrive at a new race venue and race course that you I have never
been on. It’s like a whole new world of opportunities.
Checking the race course for good new lines that other riders may have missed, “A-lining” a big jump line instead of a B line (Missoula !). Every course has it’s unique flow in the uphills and downhills, and so did the new course in U.S. Collegiate nationals at Angel Fire Resort, New Mexico.
It was a long, snow stormy drive to Angel Fire with the Fort Lewis College cycling team from Durango, a mere 200 miles away.
The closer we got to the resort, we all left our notebooks and reading aside and started wondering out
loud :”how the hell are we suppose to race in this weather?!”.
The first reaction was that we should just have Cyclo-Cross nationals at that weekend, since it’s already so brutal, and instead of having CX nationals in Madison, WI in January (who thought of that idea??), just reschedule it somewhere nice and warm like Arizona.
Knowing the course is covered with almost a foot of snow, I waited until almost all the college guys
and girls pre-ride the course before I did my pre-ride. I really didn’t feel like pedaling through snow…
Cross-Country was the first race day, so there wasn’t much time for traffic or drying out on the course. Our Fort Lewis girls killed it with a 9am start, and crowned Lauren Catlin as a national champ on a frozen course. The guys started at noon, so we had a totally different story – it was a mud-slop-fest. I will never forgot the long brutal climb we did three times, climbing from 8,500 to 10,000 feet, no rests in between, all just sloppy mud and puddles… climbing at about 5 miles an hour it took forever. If I thought that I’m better off running fast some sloppy parts, I realized after 30 feet that I’m totally out of breath because of the high altitude. It’s either riding super slow or walking at “push the grocery cart” pace.
The challenge of the climb was followed by the sweetest snow descending ever, it was somewhat packed, not too steep for the snow, just pure pleasure for your ride-buds ! I had a decent race dealing with a little after-sickness from the past week and finished a strong second place, while we, the Fort Lewis College team, swept away the whole podium taking the top three!
The short track the next day was a simple up and down 1 kilometer loop, ain’t nothing much to it.
Lots of places to pass, no technical elements. So simple make it so hard – because it’s just about
putting the power !
I did my thing and opened strong, fading a little midway my teammate Howard Grotts tagged along with me. The two of us kept a really strong pace, lapping almost the whole field (except places 3 and 4). With the last bits of power I kept my wheels at front and went in first for the last corner and keeping it safe for first place on the line. That’s a 3rd national championship title in a row for me in the last 3 years! In addition to that, Fort Lewis got the 1st place omnium for the championships, what can be a
better way to wrap up my mountain bike season !?
What do I do now?, well, after the hangover and sugar rush from nationals’ party and Halloween
went away, I’m taking some time off the bike completely, back on school work, relaxing and
being lazy for a while before I’m hitting the winter activities that are just on their way – skiing,
snowshoeing, intramural sports etc… some CX too for sure!
Thanks to Chad “Chainsaw” Cheeney for the awesome photos…