The past 10 days have been pretty crazy. It started with a trip up to Vail for the GoPro Games with Meg, Coop and Troy last weekend. GoPro is an awesome event but I have never had a great ride there. I don’t know if it’s the long fire road climb, the mid altitude or the time of year but I never seem to get it right. It’s a bummer too because there is great prize money and it’s such a cool event.
I figured I would try something different this year so I ran some sub 350 g tires. Five minutes in I was following too close to Keegan on a fast fire road descent, hit a rock, flatted the tire, broke the wheel and my race was over. It was disappointing but I had my favorite race of the year just a few days later in Bend, so I thought it might be a blessing in disguise.
Flying out of Eagle on the twenty minute flight to Denver we were delayed over two hours so our cushy connection evaporated and Myron and I literally ran from one plane to the other, made the connection and our bags made it too, Bend seems to be a place for me that things just work out. Anyway, the Blitz is a small evening invitational event that is sweet. It’s a twenty mile downhill XC that starts 2,000 higher then it finishes at the Tetherow golf club in Bend. The trail portion of the race takes about fifty minutes and is littered with drops in in the beginning, log option lines, flowing single track and finishes through the jump park before hitting the golf course. The golf course is like a ten minute cyclocross section but before you get to that there is an X-Games(very scaled down) style jump feature off of the driving range tee box. After all that it’s not the first person to get to the line that wins, but the first person to get to the line and chug a pint of the title sponsors beverage, Deschutes Brewing. Inside the race there are also five hundred dollar primes for the things like the hole shot, best air, speed trap and the arm wrestling competition afterward(rained out this year).
I knew from last year the hole shot is critical if I wanted to follow the lines of local fast guys Adam Craig and Carl Decker. This year I managed to grab the hole shot and hold those guys off for the first section of the Funner trail. Adam got around me on a log/tree ride option line but it was great because it’s much easier to follow someone that’s faster then you. When the trail crossed the main road to Mt Bachelor a third of the way through I got back in front of Craig and managed to hold everyone off to the finish. Last year I out sprinted Craig to the line but he out chugged me to victory. This year I was able to come in with enough of a lead to get the win even with my poor chugging skills. As soon as we finished the sky opened up with icy rain so they had to cancel the post race arm wrestling competition. That was fine with me as I suck at arm wrestling and had to get to bed early to get up the next day and drive to the final Epic Rides event in Carson City, NV.
Bike Setup: Scott Spark 165 rear psi, 105 front 100 mm RS-1, Eagle 38 tooth front chainring, Maxxis EXO TR Ikon 2.2 front 26, rear 28. I also ran an individual lock out for the front and rear suspension on this course because I had the rear locked out quite a bit but the front open because there was so much downhill pedaling.
So after a crazy night of racing we rolled out of Bend with the sun coming up to make Carson City for the 2 pm mandatory riders meeting and registration. We slid into town just in time and no sooner had the meeting ended then Troy and I were out doing some recon on the new course up around Lake Tahoe. To add just a little bit more craziness to the day we made it back in time to line up for the also mandatory Fat Tire crit at 7:30pm, two night races in a row. With no prize money or overall time on the line in the crit I used it as a bit of recovery from the hard night before. I figured if it came to a field sprint I would try for the win but I wasn’t going to do any work. Things worked perfectly as my teammate Finsty in his first Epic Rides event got off with Kabush and they duked it out for the win with Finsty eventually finishing second.
One of my big goals for this season has been the Epic Rides Triple Crown series. This is the first year of the series and I really wanted to go for it. Since the series is based on time like a stage race rather then points every second counts and I held a slim 47 second lead on Ben Sontag heading into Carson City. I knew it was going to be a great fight and it didn’t disappoint. The course for Carson is 48 miles with 7,500 feet of climbing. It is 70% fire road and tops out at nearly 9,000 ft(Carson is 4,800 ft). There is no hiding in a MTB race at altitude.
Sometimes when there is a big climb in the beginning guys don’t want to go flat out from the start and that’s what happened in Carson. By the time we hit the first feed zone twelve miles into the climb we were still a group of roughly 10-15. By the time we topped out near the summit at the 2nd feed zone we were between 3/4. Jeremy Martin and Sontag were putting the pressure on up the climbs and it was all I could do to stay with them. We would gap Kabush at the top but he would come back on the descent. When we reached the actual top and bombed down the single track Finsty had joined as well so we were a group of five rolling the 10 km traverse before plunging down the “Secret trail” over to the final climb. Finsty and Kabush nuked the Secret trail descent and opened a gap to me with Ben jumping around me before the last twenty five minute single track climb. It was all I could do to hold onto Ben up the climb. He would gap me and I would come back, we eventually caught Finsty near the top but never regained contact with Kabush. On the long descent Finsty came back to us so we were a group of three sprinting for 2-4. I thought for sure we would be able to get Ben since we were two against one but he timed his sprint perfect with Finsty and I rolling in for 3/4 but at no time gap so I locked up the overall!It was an awesome race and great course, so much fun to visit a new venue.
Bike Setup: Scott Scale, RS-1 80mm, Eagle 36(would use a 38 in the future), Maxxis Ikon 2.2 EXO front 24, rear 26.
We didn’t have much time to celebrate after the race, it was back to Reno, then pack the bikes and off to France at 6:30am the next morning. We are settling nicely over here near Lassiac for Marathon Worlds this weekend. The course is very rough and though it doesn’t have super long sustained climbs there is nearly 10,000 ft in 90k so we are either going up or down all the time. I managed to have a big crash yesterday, broke my helmet, bent a pedal and somehow came away unharmed. The AirBnB we are at is awesome though, can’t complain about this:
I wonder what the family is doing today……