Well this past week couldn’t have gone much better, locked up the XC National Championships!!!!
But before I get to that, after Wisconsin PROXCT I flew back to my family’s house in NY and Meg and Coop were there waiting for me. They were even at the airport since they flew in the previous day and their flight got delayed super late so they just spent the night at a hotel at Albany airport. So I even had them to drive home with as soon as I arrived!
We had a great couple days at the family’s house. Troy was home too and Myron and Menso as well. It was my mom’s birthday so we had some good celebrations and ate an enormous ice cream cake. It was amazing.
Meg, Coop and I packed up the van on Wednesday and made the 2:30 drive down to Allentown PA to get some laps in on the course. The time frame for riding the course at Nationals is always a bit crunched. Luckily the races didn’t start until Thursday so I was able to bust out a bunch of laps when we got there. The course had received some rain early in the week and the rocks were still pretty slick on Wednesday but would be bone dry by race day.
After a few days holed up in hotel it was finally time to go. The course was completely dry and therefore even faster then last year since we weren’t receiving any afternoon thunderstorms. I raced the Epic but lowered my normal shock pressure from 165 down to 135 since it had so much rough climbing and pedaling. I also opted for Grid Fast Tracks 2.0 front and rear this year instead of just in rear. Since the course was faster we were hitting everything faster and a course as rough as Bear Creek flats are always an issue. I ran a higher pressure then normal too with the Grids opting for 25/26 front/rear. I sacrificed some traction and cushion for flat and rim protection.
Even with number plate 13 the race went perfect from the start. The end of lap 1 of 6 we were a group of 4 with myself, Finsty, Kerry and Ettinger. At the top of the 2nd lap Ettinger was leading and crashed/flatted as we started the descent. That gave me the gap and I rode the rest of the race solo. It was a measured effort because with such a rough course I was constantly worried about flatting so I was trying to ride “light” on the bike. At the same time I wanted to build as much buffer as I could in case I did have a problem. There were no problems though and I rode 1:30 clear of Werner to take my 3rd XC National title just 2 weeks after cinching the Marathon title.
The bike worked perfect as always and I can’t thank John and Mike enough for making sure everything was dialed in. Of course to win any race takes a lot of hard work and preparation. Huge thanks to all my sponsors and family for the constant support.
This year I have been better on the first day of races then second generally. It varies year to year, some years I’m better on day 1 and others it’s day 2. Anyway, there was no time to celebrate the victory since we raced at 4:30 PM by the time I got out of doping and finished my cool down it was almost 8:30 and the STXC was the next day.
I was aiming to lock up all 3 MTB national titles this year so the STXC was a big target. I really like the PA STXC course as well, it’s got a few punchy climbs, a bit of drafting and some rocky single track. The race blew apart pretty quickly and by the midway point Ettinger and I had a gap. Neither of us wanted to work and drag the other one around. With 2 laps to go I tried to up the pace but on the bell lap we were still together. We banged bars the last lap but as we sprinted together up the last climb and into the single track Ettinger pulled ahead. That was the race as there is no passing in the single track and the downhill gravel corner leading into the finish isn’t conducive to sprinting. I rolled in for 2nd and although it wasn’t a win, it was a great race.
It has been an amazing 5 weekends of racing and it went better then I expected overall. Now I head back to CO and up to Breckenridge to do some training with the team and get ready for Leadville. I’m looking forward to dropping the VO2 intervals and logging in some big high country rides.
I wonder what Winstons doing right now…..