What a great week we had in Sun Valley. Getting there was another story and I’ve never had a flawless travel to picturesque little town. This year I was meeting up with Meg in Denver on my way back from Windham but her flight out of Durango broke so I made it in on time but she didn’t. Luckily I had plenty of grocery shopping for the week to do and there is a Chipotle in Boise so dinner was taken care of too. She got in on the next flight and we did the 2+ hour drive up to Sun Valley and arrived at the condo around midnight. Not too bad if I hadn’t woken up at 5 AM east coast time to fly out that morning.
Sun Valley has to be the nicest place we race all year. The weather was perfect all week with hot afternoons and thunderstorms in the evening to cool things off. With the rain the trails were in great condition and there was even some humidity in the air. The one thing that always surprises me is how friendly the drivers are there. Sun Valley is a really small town and there are crosswalks everywhere. If you’re walking and even look at the crosswalk all the cars stop and wait for you to start walking across the road, even if you’re no where near the walk. I’m use to Durango where you are taking your life in your hands even in the crosswalk.
They also have an amazing coffee shop, Java on 4th that has incredible muffins and scones. I had to do some extra training all week just so I could have one of their pastries each day. That wasn’t a bad thing though as I got to ride some trails other then the course that were awesome. I would highly suggest riding the Adams, Eves and Forbidden Fruit trails. They are easy to access from town and so much to ride, totally different then the trials on Baldy.
By the time race day had rolled around I had put in some serious laps on the Marathon course. The course was pretty straight forward with a long 45 minute climb and a 30 minute flowing pedally descent with some flat sections thrown in to link it all together. There were some sharp rocks on the course and the majority of the 23 mile loop was single track. That makes it fun for riding but tough for passing, especially when you have all the categories racing at the same time. I chose to ride the Epic with a Control Renegade on the back for flat protection and fast rolling with a S-Works Fast Track on the front for light weight and traction. The course was really hard pack but pretty bumpy so the Epic was perfect.
Lap 1 we formed a group at the bottom of the climb with Alex Grant setting tempo for the whole climb with Ettinger, Bishop and myself glued to his wheel. Halfway down the descent Bishop got a front flat and then we were a group of 3. When the single track finally opened up onto a 5 minute fire road climb 2/3s of the way down the descent Ettinger attacked and I was able to get around him before we dove into the single track for the rest of the descent. I got about a 1o second gap on him going through the start/finish for lap 1 and we were able to drop Alex.
Ettinger caught me right before we started the big climb again and we rode together all the way until the top. I lead and tried to keep the pressure on, finally at the top I was able to pry open a 5 second advantage. From there I was able to open it up to nearly 2 minutes by the time I crossed the finish line to successfully defend the title. It was a big goal of mine for this season so I was really happy to seal the deal, especially since Ettinger made me work for it all the way to the line.
When I had to pee for USADA after the race it was bright red from the beet juice I drink before the race. The doping control officer said everyone’s pee is red now since everyone drinks beet juice. It use to be an advantage to drink it because not everyone knew about it’s benefits, now if you’re not drinking it you’re behind the ball. Glad Biotta makes a juice that doesn’t mess up my stomach.
Finally, I hope they make a few changes to Marathon Nationals for next year since it’s Sun Vally again. The race was under 50 miles and took me 2:52 something so it was too short, hopefully they can make it longer. We also need a closed course for the Championship event because I passed about 60 people from other categories and with the course 85% single track that’s not good for anyone. I can’t complain too much though because it all worked out.
Two more weekends of racing to go before I get a reprieve, Wisconsin PROXCT this weekend followed by XC/STXC National Champs in PA the following week. Then it’s all high altitude training for Leadville.
I wonder what Benno’s doing right now…..