Monday, August 17, 2009

Windham PRO XCT Race Report/ Rambling

What to say about Windham… Mediocre? Eh, Successful? Eh, Disappointing, Eh… Nothing seems to quite sum it up. I arrive Saturday to the typical Weather Channel lies of 79 degrees and low humidity. Well it was 90 and humid. Alright whatever it’s August and I should be used to riding in Swamp weather. Onward. I warmed up with Tim, a familiar face from the MASS series. Tim convinced USA Cycling to give him a much deserved PRO License, so he too would be racing the PRO XCT race. The lap at Windham was a bit shorter than last year to make way for the 2010 World Cup. It basically climbed up the mountain, then shot directly back down. The descent had a few scary sections, but nothing was unridable, everything was easy to go way too fast on however. I think each short lap had almost 900 ft of climbing packed in it. Waiting on the line I got a decent call up, 45th. I was not PRO enough to get a soigneur to hold an umbrella over me, even with my wife, sister and mom present.

I think my HR sat in the 130’s before the start. I was admittedly pretty nervous. The 2 minute countdown was eerie. I have never heard a group of 75 dudes stand so silent before. The race starts on this ¼ mile fire road loop then hits the first bottleneck, er section of singletrack. Within the first 15 seconds somebody almost crashed, I had an elbow in my bars, and was almost pushed into the tape. I pushed back and held a decent position and line up the first climb. Here is a video of the start I found while scouring the intewebs. The dust was unreal. I looked down and couldn’t see my wheels. When the group on riders hit the first singletrack section, we could no longer ride 5 wide and were forced to dismount and stand next to our bikes as we wait to continue. We remounted and started climbing, I was holding ok ground and riding just above my normal limit. I felt ok, and if I remember descended reasonably back down the hill. Lap 2 got a little tough. The heat started to hit, I was drinking a bottle every 20 minutes. I couldn’t get into a rhythm on the climbs. I maintained my position and was able to escape a few of the riders I was with, I was really surprised by the number of riders with flats I saw. The rock sections had Mike Festa Signature Sidewall Tears written all over them. By lap 3 I pushing but knew I was going to be lapped by Geoff Kabush et al. After he (they) lapped me I would surely be pulled and continued to use that a motivation to keep pushing. Upon review of the results, Only 24 riders finished on the lead lap, 20 minutes down. 1st to 10th was over a 7 minute spread. I thought I could have done a bit better result wise, I just didn’t have the gas in the legs.
After the race was pretty fun. I immediate took the beer out of my sisters hand and got a head start on recovery. Here's a nice shot of me contemplating what the hell just happened.

New to the PRO Tour scene I was slightly overwhelmed by the media/ press blitz I experienced post race. Seriously I mean how many interviews can a guy give? You can tell by this photo my personal space is being clearly violated.

Here is a shot of me and my relatively short mom staring at the course map/profile.

I could go into how paying 10 dollars to park my car in a dirt lot with ample amounts of parking aggravated me, how the entry fee was almost the highest of any race I have done this year, and the payout the lowest... but I'll let that all be. USA Cycling better figure out some of their quirks or else I cannot see the East/ West Kenda cups fairing any better than the NMBS it replaced. Having said that I am glad we at least have a national series and glad that Sho-Air/ Kenda/ USAC/ UCI put this whole thing on.
One final note has some great coverage of this race and the rest of the Pro XCT series, keep up the good work over there Colt. You can see a glimpse of me at 1:40

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Colin R said...

Pretty sure you were riding right next to my teammate when I informed him that he lost over 5 minutes on the first lap.

A ton of "local fast" people got pulled after 3 and 4 laps. Turns out "nationally fast" is a whole 'nother level. I did not envy you guys.

Mike said...

I thought you looked familiar from the interwebs, I was slightly delusional at that point though... It was Harry I was riding with right? I have raced (lost to) him when we raced Expert. The short course and fast Kabush didnt help the riders being pulled. I couldnt believe only ~24 guys finished on the lead lap.

Colin R said...

Yup, Harry, aka "guy on a rigid singlespeed at a Pro XCT." He gave me 3 bottles to hand up and I was like, dude, you'll be lucky to last long enough to need one of these.