Monday, July 21, 2008

USA Cycling National Championships: Mt Snow, VT

This weekend was a lot different than last for having so many things the same.
Lauren and I left from NY to drive the 3 hours to the Inn we were staying at. We arrived, I went and registered for the race and set out to take a lap. Last years Mt Snow course was pretty scary for me, the downhill, due to the rain from the days proceeding, was ½ running, as was some of the single track climbing… To my surprise I rolled up to the course to see clouds of dust blowing around in the wind. I took a lap and even with my whacked out right knee managed to complete the 5 miles in 39 minutes. I rode the entire downhill with ease, spots were scary and I remember thinking as a thunderstorm boomed in the distance, wow this would suck if it was wet since the trail was littered with roots and steep chutes (enter foreshadowing). The lap although maybe a little hard on my knee was worth the time. I felt confident and strong after the ride. I could really feel my peak coming into play.
I cruised back down to the start finish area and picked up a patient Lauren for dinner. We had dinner at one of the local places and I had to try not to overdo it on the pasta… the plate they brought out was at least a lb.
I woke up Saturday at 5am for my 8am start. I managed to eat a bit and drink some coffee. Pretty standard procedure for a race. As I sipped my coffee I couldn’t help but stress a bit about the rain that had awoken me last night… the parking lot of the inn was filled with puddles and it seemed humid outside… so much for my safe fast descent. I started my warm up and I felt pretty good. Mom and Dad showed up which is always nice. Lauren set up shop in the feed zone, which I am also very grateful for.

I lined up, got my super sweet call up to the line for being 2nd in the country…
and we were off... it went pretty quick. The field was pretty strong, but somehow I managed to get the hole shot. I let a wheel go by then a couple more went by… after the opening climb I was descending the north loop in 4th, behind a dude from CA, Scott from Bethel and Randy from Tufts. Scott and Randy have both beaten me before so I knew I had to keep them in sight. We started the big climb and I settled into my pace, keeping the 10 second rule going trying not to let Scott out of my sight. This was kind of hard because we regained the stagger on the 19-24 age group that started a minute before us. This forced me to have to run up one of the hills and take crap lines up some of the others to get around the wheels. We hit the descent and I tried not to loose the leaders, I did ok on the descent, it was wet, but I had some practice riding the roots at the Visit PA race a few weeks ago. I made it took a feed and hit lap 2. Lap 2 was weird; I tried not to burn too many matches but tried to keep Scott in sight as best I could. I cleaned the steepest ugliest part of the climb which made me very pleased. I felt strong, but definitely flirting with my limit. I took the descent on lap 2 cautiously… I didn’t want to crash and loose what I thought was a very likely podium at this point, I probably lost a few seconds, but my whole plan was to kill it on the climbs the last lap. I took my final feed from Lauren who told me Scott had 45 seconds on me… crap I thought, that’s a lot he only had 30 on the top of the climb by my estimate. I pushed up the north loop climb which stung a bit. As I passed back by the other side of the feed zone Lauren told me I was only 25 seconds down. At the next point I estimated 15, then 12, then on one of the fire road climbs, he was running up it while I remained on the bike, I caught him and urged him to come with me, at this point I didn’t care, we were all going to be on the podium, I figured if I took Scott with me to do some work, maybe we could change the order a bit. Scott couldn’t go so I surged past and tried to make up the 30 seconds Scott had told me Randy had on us. I needed a little more climb than I had left, because before I knew it I was going back down the hill. I certainly was not going to make up 30 seconds descending like I had been, I let it rip a bit more than normal while navigating through some of the traffic on the course. I had to take some pretty creative, read not the easiest, lines to pass. As I hit the fire road that lead into the feed zone, I knew I missed; I was not going to catch the leader. I was still more than happy with 2nd but I got greedy knowing I was so close to a National Championship. Lauren and the family greeted me at the line, I was astonished I had did as well as I had. I told Randy he won, which I don’t know if he had realized yet. Scott came in a few seconds later. We took some pictures and went to cool down. Both guys were pretty cool. We bs’ed about our bikes and joked about getting our asses kicked in semipro. I also thought it was pretty cool to have a Root 66 podium. An Allied Milk rider and the rider from California rounded out the top 5.
One aside regarding Vermont is that they sell beer at the 7/11. Not bud light either, I mean that’s not really beer anyways, but good beer. So after the podium
and a shower Lauren and I grabbed some bottles, some crackers and cheese and yuppied it up on the porch of the inn. Awesome.

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