Talk about a blast from the past, me doing a Mountain Bike race? its been a while! I had plans to do some late season MTB races last year but was unable, due to my injury. So when I was planning out my schedule this spring, I was happy to see one that didn't conflict with any big races. As I mentioned briefly in my last blog my friend Gavin Haley (you can read his blog Here) has been staying at my house training, racing, and farming. Gavin is a "dirt boy" as well... so we were both excited to go rip some single track!
Where better to do it than the series I grew up racing, the largest Moutain Bike series in the country, WORS! hundreds, sometimes thousands of racers pitch their tent and camp the night before, both to race and have fun.
It was strange pre-riding the night before, seeing the campground and having flash backs to my early years of racing... I've never done this particular WORS race before and it's a pretty tough course. There is lot's of fast single track with enough rocks that it's reasonably technical. It has it's fair share of climbing too, the race starts up a very grassy hill, and the Elite field finishes on on two climbs in rapid succession. One single track then one grassy and more open.
The day of the race was very hot. While I did my warm up on the trainer I think my skinsuit absorbed about pound of sweat! For those who don't know, the start of a XC Mountain bike race is very important. the first mile or so of the course is always open and you can typically pass well enough. Once you get into the single track though, you are at the mercy of the person in front of you. He may give you trail when you ask for it, or he may not. It's been a while since Cyclocross season (which is the only other discipline I do that can compare as far as starting speed) and this was actually the first Pro/Cat 1 MTB race I have done... so I knew I'd have to be very ready for the start!
With fifteen minutes till the start, Gavin and I got off the trainers and rode to the line. Don (who is the one who started WORS in the first place) does the call ups to the line. First the Pro's, then the top rider in each Elite age category, and finally all the Cat 1 juniors (we do one less lap than the Elite men, so they start us at the back).
One minute to start.
"Welcome riders to the fourth race in the WORS series, Battle of Camrock!" Don's booming voice says.
"One foot in, one foot on the ground. Wheels BEHIND the line. Be safe out there, have fun, and most importantly, treat each other kindly!
"Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five..."
Just like that, the race is off! It took me a while to move up during both the start and most of the first lap. I didn't get ahead of enough people before the first single track, so I pretty much got off my bike and stood for a good fifteen to twenty seconds in the racing equivalent of a traffic jam. Half way through the first lap, I was a minute and thirty seconds down on the top three for cat 1 junior. After I got through a few more open sections where there was good passing opportunities I was able get up to my own pace in the single track and the time gaps started shrinking. By the second lap, I had gone from about 7th out of ten to 4th, twenty seconds behind my team mate Gavin and a minute out of first.
It was good to do a mountain bike race after the long absence, Now I'm off to Tour of America's Dairyland and then shortly after that, Road National Championships in Madison!
You can Check out some more awesome photos of this race and more at XTRphoto.com!