I had the number 1 plate starting off the season in TX for the 3rd straight year I think and for the third straight year I gave it up by the end of the race. This year was the closest I had been to keeping it yet though at the first race so I do have some positives to take a way from the weekend. And, it’s so awesome to back out racing!
Mellow Johnnys was this past weekend in Austin, TX, well more accurately in Dripping Springs, TX which is about 1 hour from Austin. The course was similar to past years with just a few changes and the weather was perfect, 75 and sunny. It feels like there is a bit more buzz around the US MTB season this year with higher category races and good money for the overall in US Cup (4 race series) and PROXCT (7 race series). Add in races like Epic Rides Whiskey 50 and Grand Junction Off Road plus the Iceman Commeth up in MI and you can actually win some good prize money on the MTB this year!
Meg had spent a night alone with Cooper while I was racing the 24 HOP(another Epic Rides event) but for Austin she was flying solo with Coop for 2 nights and I was more then an hours drive away. She is such a champ though I knew I had nothing to worry about and they both did awesome, though he’s a little mad in this picture:)
I didn’t know how the form was going into MJs since I had a different winter then I normally do with my knee problem. I had much more time off the bike and missed my biggest week of volume. That said I still was able to squeeze a week or two of intensity in before the race so I figured I might actually be better then normal since I wasn’t recovering from such a big training load. Sure enough I felt good out there and actually made it up the main climb on the last lap sitting 2nd wheel with a small split behind. Usually I’m the guy getting tailed off on that climb at the finish and having to 2 wheel drift the rest of the corners to try and regain contact. The group came back together again and split one more time before the finish. Again I was right on Plaxton’s wheel when he hit it and we had the gap but I followed too close over the last rock and had to unclip when he slowed down. I knew I should have left more space but you don’t want to give a punchy guy like that a single meter when you’re getting ready to hit the finish straight. I went from thinking I could win the race to getting then caught and passed by Kabush too all inside of one minute from the finish and settling for 3rd.
All said I was happy with the race. My knee stood it’s first real test of the season, my training seems to be on track and the bike worked perfect as usual. I felt bad having to rush out of the venue right after the race to catch my flight back home to Meg and Coop but with the race getting pushed back 30 minutes and the podium pushed back nearly an hour, I was happy to zip through the airport and arrive at the gate before they shut the door.
I have been doing some awesome training here in Tucson and the group rides have been huge and fast this year. It’s nice when you roll out of town 100 to 200 strong and everyone is willing to give it some stick. It makes the training that much easier(for motivation, not for actual output). It was awesome to roll the Arivaca loop the other day too with 11 guys, 138 miles in just a touch over 6 hours. Much nicer then when Hoff, Big Sexy and I rolled it with just 3 and took 6:30.
I haven’t been able to hit the gym this winter because of my knee but I am slowly reintroducing exercises into my routine so it seems like instead of being sore all at once I’m getting to enjoy the feeling each time I reintroduce something new. I’m not complaining because I would much rather be sore then not able to do it at all.
I’m looking forward to racing the Old Pueblo Grand Prix this weekend. I also raced the crit last year when it was the NRC season opener. This year it’s not on the calendar and it’s almost 3 hours earlier, 6:15pm instead of 9pm so I’m not sure how big the field will be. I just hope to keep the rubber side down as I saw more crashes in that hour of racing last year then I did the rest of my season. If you can stay upright its great training and who doesn’t love the excitement of crit racing under the lights.
I wonder what Rude’s doing right now…….