It is definitely fire season in Southern Colordao. This is the West Fork fire burning near South Fork/Wolf Creek/Pagosa Springs. They thought the entire town of South Fork was going to be lost but now it looks like they will be able to save it. If you’ve ever seen the National Lampoons Summer Vacation, South Fork is where they go camping.
So after a few weeks at home and some good training Howie and I were off to Missoula for the PROXCT. Missoula is a awesome town and I highly suggest checking it out if you ever get the chance. The people there are super friendly, it’s beautiful and there a lot of great coffee shops and things to see. The riding is pretty fun too. They like to do things late though so make sure you rest up before you go, especially if it’s around summer solstice time.
Friday night was the STXC and it started at 8:45pm a bright blue sky. I don’t think it gets dark there until 10:30pm in the summer time. The course was awesome with a short double track climb, some fun single track and few slippery gravel corners. Kabash and Ettinger got off pretty early and I managed to bridge across. We rode as a group of 3 for most of the race before Trebron brought Howie across to us with 3 laps to go and Howie nailed it with 2 to go. That blew Trebron out of the group but going into the final lap Howie was cooked so it was just the 3 of us again. Kabush lead around the last 180 turn before the climb up to the finish and we stayed in the same line for the sprint up the hill with Kaboom winning probably his 100th STXC, Ettinger 2nd and me 3rd. I rode home after the race for a cool down and got to the hotel around 10pm.
The XC was another late start on Saturday, 6pm. It’s hard to wait around for a 2pm start but after waiting for a 8:45pm and then a 6pm the next day I was going a little bonkers. At least I wasted most of the morning hanging out at the La Petit coffee shop with Rude, Finsty and Kerry. They have some amazing cappuccinos, not quite Cartel but not far off. The course was the same as last year but with some rain during the week there was no dust and it was in perfect condition. The big attraction is the A-line drop. XC mountain bike racing is progressing and now we are seeing drops and features like this all the time. The first year of the race only a few riders did it, last year more did it but not me(wimp) but this year just about all the men and most of the top women did it. It’s cool to see more bike handling coming into XC. At first the courses were so raw and the bikes so incapable it was very technical, then the trails got buff and the bikes got better so it was very easy. Now, the bikes are incredible and the courses are being built to push their capacity along with the riders so it’s getting really cool again.
Anyway, the drop is about 5 seconds of the course, what makes the race is the 12 minute unrelenting climb up. I stayed in the group with Kaboom, Ettinger and Howie for the first 3 of 6 laps. I had a small problem and had to stop and fix it at the start of the 4th lap. I lost the group, chased flat out, blew up and was barely able to finish. I rolled in for 6th a shattered man. I figured it was going to be hard race for me with my training focused on MTB Nats in a few weeks but sometimes I surprise myself. At first I was surprised to be riding so well and then I was surprised at how bad I blew up. It was really cool to see Howie win his first PROXCT and for the US circuit to find out what we all know in Durango, the guy goes uphill like a rocket.
The Missoula crew puts on what I think is the best PROXCT of the year. They get spectators up on the mountain, they streamed the race live on the internet and they really cater to the racers. The crew is so passionate about XC MTB racing and it really shows. They also have the coolest trophy out there, a giant set of antlers. I really want to win a set of those one of these years if I can figure out how to get up that climb 6 times.
It was good to see Sam Shultz this weekend in his hometown. He has had some rough luck this year with an injury but I’m sure he’ll be back soon stronger then ever. They had him on the news talking about the race and his picture is plastered all over town. It’s really cool to see the town get behind him so much.
I have 4 days at home and then it’s off to Windham for the next round of the PROXCT. Looks like it could rain all week there and I hope it does. I would like a really heavy mud race like it seems like all east coast races use to be. I remember when the wheels would stop spinning because the mud would clog up the V-brakes so badly. Maybe we don’t need it that muddy but a bit would be nice. From Windham it’s Sun Valley for Marathon Nats, Wisconsin PROXCT and then PA for XC Nats. These 5 weeks we are touring ski resorts all over the country.
I wonder if they’re going to have those doughnut muffins at the Avalanche Cafe in Silverton today……