Pro XCT #4: Mellow Johnny’s Classic Race Report
The last few days have been a whirlwind! Originally I was going to skip Pro XCT #4 because I thought it was going to be too much travel after the trip to South Africa. However, due to my SUCKING at the first World Cup, I decided racing Mellow Johnny’s would give me the opportunity for a do-over. So, three days before the race I changed my plans and decided to make the quick trip down to Austin, TX.
I figured I would just do everything the opposite of what I did before the race in South Africa and see if I felt any better. I think the problem in South Africa was that I didn’t ride enough (after all the travel) to get all the junk out of my legs before the race. This time around I made sure to do plenty of riding: a couple hours on Wednesday, a couple on Thursday and 1.5 hours on Friday. Hopefully that would do it.
Waldek selflessly agreed to accompany me on my last-minute adventure and be my one-man support team. We flew in on Friday night, I built up my bike, we made it to the pre-race shindig at Mellow Johnny’s bike shop and had a quick dinner with my teammate and Austin local Terra Castro and her husband Zane (An Ironman triathlete, Terra somehow managed to fit cheering/pitting for me into her packed training schedule- thanks for being a great teammate, Terra!)
Austin was hot and sticky, but luckily race morning was overcast and breezy. It was hot, but manageable. We got to the course early so I could head out to pre-ride a lap or two. The course was very similar to last year only a little shorter. There was still plenty of tight, twisty singletrack, a few short, punchy climbs, but overall the course was pretty flat and fast with lots of loose corners. (Luckily I was running my new go-to tire: the Maxxis Monorail which I’ve found to be awesome in pretty much any conditions.)
The Pro women’s field was tiny- partly due to a handful of women choosing to race the Whiskey 50 in Prescott Az the same weekend. It was a real shame to see so few women show up, but the spectators came out in droves. It was definitely the most enthusiastic crowd I’ve seen so far at any race this year (including the World Cup)! Austin has a great cycling community, and they were out in full-force. For a race kind of in the middle of nowhere, it was an impressive showing.
Ok, back to the race…The course went almost immediately into singletrack, and I knew it would be important to get out in front early so I could choose my own lines. I got the hole shot and just focused on riding smooth and steady. I was able to open up a small gap in the first section of singletrack, and from there I stretched it out a few seconds every lap. I never let up- Lea wasn’t too far back, and I knew (from recent experience…) how quickly things can change if you get a flat tire or have a mechanical. My legs felt great: WAY better than in the World Cup last weekend, and I was riding better too- I got my Mojo back! Waldek appeared at a bunch of different places on the course to give me splits and take pictures, and yet he still managed to be in the feed zone to give me my bottles. I’m not sure how he does it; I guess that’s why they pay him the big bucks…
After the race, we hung out for a bit and then headed to the airport to catch an evening flight back to Denver. Overall it was a great trip: I managed to figure out the proper pre-race training after long travel, score some UCI points, race on some fun trails, hang out with friendly Texans and be back home in time for dinner!