I headed down to Durango Thursday afternoon to squeak in an easy spin and get ready for some pre-riding on Friday. Eric Landis and I had ridden the majority of the courses in a previous trip, but between the singletrack trials riding of stage 3 and the unknown stage 4 we wouldn't be bored. And we would be riding our bikes, which is always fun.
Day 1: Kennebec Pass
|Start line view|
5:15a.m. and the alarm was going off
6:30 we were loading bikes in trailers for the hour long shuttle
8:00 found us starting the 6 mile, 2200ft climb to the start line
Then, with a 5sec countdown, time stopped and started all at once.
Our first half mile was the most puckered of the weekend. High-speed water-bars, off-camber turns, loose dirt, and a scree field (slide rock as the locals call it) were all part of the deal. Even after this, there was no shortage of chances to blow through turns, endo into creeks, hug a tree, or fall down the mountain's side. Leaving the start gate with a rule not to over cook it on stage 1 and to pedal hard when I could gave me a clean run and a 1st place finish.
From the valley bottom finish to the top of stage 2 was another 4 miles and 1200ft of climbing. Stage 2 gave us full throttle, roughed up double track into overgrown snaking single track and loads of opportunity to hammer the pedals. Too bad I met a sudden stop with the ground during a loose right hander! Oh well, a little rest and adrenaline helps the power output…Even without the crash, the Durango local who won the stage would have smoked me. 2nd in the stage would do just fine.
Day 2: Horse Gulch
Racing didn't start until 9. And it was right in town, allowing me to pedal right out the front door. Guess who got to sleep in. Angel.
I was up at 6, going over all the nuts and bolts of my bike and reviewing course video. Stage 3 would be the most difficult of the season and locals had a big advantage knowing the fast "B" lines. Imagine sidewalks seen in war zones. Holes, shattered rock tilted at fun house angles, up ledges, down ledges, cactus to the left and a cliff on the right. All on terrain that wasn't steep enough to carry speed without pedaling. Then give us a couple of steep, punchy climbs to break things up. OUCH! More than a few people throughout all divisions had a plan to carry their bikes through various sections. I was one of them, though it happened more often than I had planned.
Wow, this was hard. I felt redlined down the entire thing, but my HR data didn't reflect how I felt. Not sure what to make of that! Toughen up I suppose.
I was having a great run and feeling pretty happy until the chunky climb/run/hike in the upper section. I cranked too hard, blew up, started making mistakes, cussing, and having an OTB moment off a rock bridge. I knew I was losing a huge amount of time, but kept going as hard as I was able. Really, I just wanted to be done. I wanted the pain and frustration to end. I had a moment or two when I was ready to skip stage 4 and call it a weekend. Somehow, I recovered a little bit of technique and let things fly on the lower fast tech. Still nothing in the gas tank, but gravity was my friend. Down baby head alley through the bushes and across the finish. Looking down feeling beaten and in pain, I saw the front of my shirt was pretty well ripped….I guess that crash was harder than I thought.
As I rode up the trail towards the climbing transition to stage 4, I came across Angel and the Landis clan. Eric hadn't faired so well on 3 either.
|Spend the money on a good helmet|
With all the racing wrapped up for the weekend, we had nothing to do but wait for results and visit my new favorite taco spot.
|Top of the box|