I guess it takes a good result for me get motivated to update the blog lately. Before I get to the SOC, I’ve been doing quite a bit of racing since Brazil. I have raced three PROXCTs Bonelli 1, Fontana, Bonelli 2 as well as the TBC road stage race. I have had a few good results in there, 2nd Bonelli 1 XC, 2nd Fontana STXC and 4th Fontana XC. I’ve also tried to grab some primes in the STXCs lately and managed to finish 10th in Bonelli 2 in the muddiest race I’ve ever experienced in LA, even muddier then the STXC race in LA a few years back. That doesn’t sound very good but it was a stacked field and I was in the race for a good portion of it so I thought I might be close fitness wise. It was awesome to do race the Tucson Bicycle Classic road stage race as well. I love racing on the road but rarely get the chance so to do a tough race and sleep in my own bed was awesome. Plus it’s been great traveling and racing with my new teammate Finsty and my new/old mechanic Myron. We have a really good group this year and when you’re having fun you eventually get things rolling.
Sea Otter Classic was a big target I picked out at the beginning of the year. It is the biggest domestic race we have with people paying $50 just to get into the expo for the weekend. It is an industry trade show of sorts so all the sponsors are there as well as people from the company you normally only speak with via email. It’s also a HC category race for 2016 which means it carries big UCI points which are ever important for Country Ranking as well as individual ranking for Olympics. That said we had 120 people on the start line with quite a few countries represented.
STXC is always first but since they ditched the stage race format it’s not compulsory so a lot of people decided to skip it.I had a good start on the new course that winds through the venue with a few flyovers, some gravel, loose turns and a long start finish straight. Midway though the race we were a group of six, Kabush, Nicola, Ettinger, Zandstra and Simon. I crashed in a loose corner, lost the group, tagged onto the chase group for a bit and managed to punch it back across to the leaders with three laps to go. I knew I had to get into the last single track first to have a good shot but Kabush jumped in first and I managed to get in there last out of the group. I sprinted to the line for forth which was good because I was part of the race and close but always stings to be in with a shot and not seal the deal.
I felt like the form was good for the XC, the legs felt good on my morning spin after my ice bath the night before and mentally I was ready. SOC is always my first big target of the year and this one probably even more so with the new team. I didn’t have the best results coming in and I like to build some momentum ahead of a key event. That said, somehow I generally can put it together on the big day so I was excited.
We lined up for eight laps of the 4 k course with temps in the upper 70s and no clouds in the sky. I got into the single track at the top of the asphalt climb about tenth wheel. Ten minutes into the race we were already headed out on lap two and down to a group of twenty, by lap three we were ten and then four with Gagne, Nicola, Ettinger and myself. One lap later Gagne was gone it was the three of us for the rest of the day. Nicola put in a few digs on the last lap but we covered each one. I knew I had to hit the last single track section we used in the STXC the day before first to have the best shot at winning. From there it’s less then two minutes to the finish and you instantly get a two bike length gap coming over the last bridge onto the final 200 meter sprint on the pavement. Nicola and I fought for the single track, locked bars, nearly crashed came to a dead stop but I got in first, hit the pavement and somehow held on for 200 meters to win by a wheel length. It was incredible.
Photo: Kenny When
I had put a lot into this race and for everything to actually come together felt amazing. We all worked well together and were very evenly matched so it felt so good to cross the line first at such a big race for the new SRAM/TLD team.
This was my setup: STXC Scott Spark RS1 80mm 90psi, MonarchXX 200 psi, 38 xx1 chainring, Maxxis Maxxlite tires 30 front/ 33 rear.
XC: STXC Scott Spark RS1 80mm 90psi, MonarchXX 150 psi, 38 xx1 chainring, Maxxis Pace tires 25 front/ 27 rear.
Food: 2 Citrus Clifshots, 1 Espresso Clifshot
Next up is the Whisky 50 in Prescott AZ. I’m opting out of the first World Cup in Australia next week effectively taking myself out of the running for the Olympic team since it’s picked off of World Cup results. Having gone to a few Games already I think it’s time for some of the young guns to get some experience and hopefully some good results at the big show. I was honored to be named to the long team but will be focusing on the Epic Rides events and Leadville heading into the summer.
On a side note Winston really wants to get back to altitude and Durango, he was even sleeping in the tent when I was gone.
I wonder how Myron’s drive back to Tucson is going…..