What an awesome weekend of racing down in Augusta, GA this past weekend. The USAC Marathon National Champs returned to Wildwood State Park for the second year in a row and the course didn’t disappoint. If you love single track and don’t really like climbing this is the place to ride. Corners, creek crossing and logs make up the biggest challenges. What it lacks in elevation gains it makes up for in high temperatures and endless concentration. It’s not often I’m looking forward to fire road so I can turn my brain off for a second.
We started at 9am and it was already in the 80s. By the time we finished the first 30 mile loop and headed out on the second part of the figure eight course it was probably in the 90s. The course was nearly identical to last year and again we were a big group coming into the start finish area heading out on the second part of the course. This year my brother and Cold were the instigators early on. Just after the second feezone and the halfway point I put in a surge that got me a small gap when I popped out of that single track section and headed out on the road to Mistletoe State Park.
I wanted to gain as much time as possible but was also cautious of cramping since last year I started to lock up near the end and it was 15 to 20 degrees cooler. The thing with a mountain bike race is there’s no team car to give you assistance should you have a flat or mechanical problem so you want as much cushion as possible while trying to preserve your equipment as well. It was my first time on the new SRAM Eagle and I have to say the stuff works great. That is one big(little) gear.
After making it through Mistletoe and back to the final feedzone, 4 I knew I just needed to ride smooth to hold off JB. That’ easier said then done after nearly 4 hours in the saddle, tons of logs and creek crossings as well as lots of loose sticks which could easily snap a derailleur or hanger. There were some sharp rocks and roots as well so trying to ride light was also a challenge after such a long day but I held on for the win! It feels amazing to pull on that stars and stripes jersey, I can’t wait to represent with it at Leadville and La Ruta this year.
The first thing I noticed about the new Eagle derailleur was how big it is compared to the XX1. It’s amazing how light it is for such a big piece of equipment though. The cranks also went on a diet, I love it when my bike loses weight.
Next up is GoPro Games in Vail this weekend. I’ll be trading the soupy air of the dirty south for the thin dry air of Vail, 9,000 ft. I can’t say it’s my favorite course with a 20 minute climb and 5 minute descent but the event is awesome. After that it’s Blitz the Barrel in Bend, OR for a mid week downhill XC before heading to Carson City for the final round of the Epic Rides series. I’m a little disappointed that both the Carson City Off Road and Missoula PROXCT/USCUP are falling on the same weekend. Somehow I am in the lead for all three of those series but have to choose which to chase in 2 weeks time. The Epic Rides is a no brainer with more prize money at just 1 of the 3 races then nearly the entire PROXCT/USCup combined. It is a bummer though because it’s great to compete and support all the events we have in the US and though Missoula isn’t my favorite course, it’s one of my favorite towns and events. I mean Sam Shultz is from there so it’s gotta be awesome.
I wonder if I’m gonna get the garage cleaned today……