30 June 2011 | Race Reports
Pro XCT #5: Mt. Morris, WI Race Report
I have to admit, after a few spectacular weeks at home I wasn’t exactly excited about traveling again. It has been so nice to be at home working in my garden, experimenting in my kitchen, hanging out with my chickens (and my husband…) and doing a few local Colorado races. But it was time to go back to work.
Waldek and I arrived at the venue Friday afternoon with just enough time to get out for a few laps of the course (which was in MINT condition- seriously, I don’t think conditions could have been better: they weren’t wet, weren’t dry, just tacky and fast). The course was even more fun than I remembered, and I think I can safely say that the Mt. Morris course is my favorite race course!
Anyway….back to racing. Here’s how the XC went down: Heather got the hole-shot, and I was pretty content to sit on her wheel a bit since the first climb was kind of long and there was plenty of passing. No need to go crazy on the first climb, right? Lea had other ideas though, and I jumped on her wheel as she came barreling by. At the top of the climb, we headed into the singletrack, and Lea bobbled on the first short, technical climb. I was able to slip around her and immediately got a little gap. I was feeling good, so I just rode a good hard pace and tried to grow the gap as much as I could. And that’s sort of how the whole race went. Not too exciting, but I can’t say I’m sad about that.
I do have to mention (and thank) all the racers and spectators who were out there cheering for us- I felt like I was racing in front of a home-town crowd! Wisconsin sure knows how to put on a Mountain Bike race. It was great to see so many kids out racing too (and RACING, not just dilly-dallying- those kids were hammering). Hats off to Don (the organizer) who has managed to put together a race course that is fun to ride AND good for racing- that’s no easy feat. Usually the best trails to ride don’t make for very good racing (not much passing, etc), and the best race courses aren’t exactly the trails you’d want to be riding in your free time. So way to go, Don (and all the volunteers who help with trail building and maintenance)!
Ok, Ok, back to racing. On Sunday I woke up feeling absolutely thrashed. I got in a nice, long warm-up, hoping my legs would come back to life enough to put on a decent show in the short track. The course was different from last year- instead of one big climb and one big descent, there were 4 short, punchy climbs with a few downhills, some off-camber turns and plenty of sand and gravel to keep you on your toes.
Before the race, Waldek told me he wanted me to race the race like it was the first lap of a World Cup. So….I tried to be 15th going into the first corner…(ok, I didn’t “try” it just happened). Not sure what was going on there with my start, but I got to the front as soon as I could and tried to set a fast tempo. (Usually, the faster a short track is, the less sketchy it is because you have fewer people you are riding with and there tends to be less jockeying for position.) I didn’t really have the legs for a big explosive effort, so I just rode hard and hoped that everyone else popped before I did. After a few laps I had whittled the front group down to 5 or 6, but no one seemed interested in going around me, so I just stayed on the front. As the laps counted down, there were still 4 of us off the front and I was getting worried that maybe I wasn’t going to be able to cover an attack. With a few laps to go Heather dropped back, and it was down to three of us. A lap or two later I could tell that Emily was dangling, so I decided to just ramp it up a little bit- better to be sprinting one person at the end than two. With one lap to go I knew it was down to me and Lea, but I couldn’t tell how much she was suffering. With one-to-go I decided the best strategy for me was to just go all-out and hope it didn’t come down to a sprint. Luckily it worked out and I was able to roll through the finish a few seconds ahead.
After the race, we had to pack up and head to the airport to catch a flight back to Denver. We would only get two days at home before heading back east for the next round of World Cups, but at this point in the season sometimes a day or two at home makes all the difference.