The trails are fun to ride at a casual pace, but lose a lot of the appeal at race speed. They lack significant elevation change, get rougher the faster you go, lack much flow, and are hugely pedal intensive. (that makes the trails sound terrible, but really, they are quite fun to just go and ride) Think short track XC on longer travel bikes and lots of hurt. It feels as though a lot of effort is being laid down to not go fast.
|Rough start to the morning|
|Noah Sears, MRP product/marketing guy. Their stuff works better than the coffee maker|
|Eric Landis leaving the gate|
Stage 1: Upper Bullrun
Super fun trail. Twisty and slow to open and fast. Too bad I was slow to get to pace. This was my worst stage of the race, by far. All the pre-race jitters left on the pedal to the start and I was feeling calm as the clock ticked down, but that calmness stayed with me through the stage. The fire never got enough stoke. Gotta work on getting into the state of relaxed fury! No major mistakes, just didn't go fast.
|Noah Sears, MRP's product/marketing guy starting his season of "testing"|
A nice, short wait that gave enough time to recover but stay warm and I was off on stage 2. Being warmed up helped, as this was my best stage finish. A couple of small mistakes here and there, but nothing to complain about.
Stage 3: Arth's Corner
Enduro with an uphill start from the gate? Yep. The vast majority of the field was dreading this stage, knowing how painful it would be. Rough, pot-holed slick rock that kills any momentum. Lots of flat traversing and more than a few blind, uphill turns to completely bring me to a stop. Really wish I would have pre-ridden this one.
|The uphill start to Stage 3|
Great Escape is the stage I look forwards to riding. It's fun to ride and fun to race. Mostly down, fast, more techy stuff than the other trails, and just tends to have the flow that's lacking on the other trails. Some of the slickrock corners tend to be slick with sand, too. I learned looking right at the sand while you're in the middle of such a corner is a bad idea. On the bright side, I learned my knee pads worked perfectly....
By the race's end, I was 17th of 37 pros. My friend and teammate, Eric Landis, rode a great race earning him 7th and his first top 10 overall result.
While I accomplished my race goals of improving on my times from last year and not getting passed, I still felt a bit let down. Due to work and other responsibilities, I wasn't able to get any practice on the trails. That could have helped on a few of the sneaky turns and my overall mental game, as I just couldn't find that drive this weekend. It's a bit frustrating knowing I can do much better. Time to get to work.
|Sara enjoying the view before an off-trail adventure (literary license in effect)|
|Eric and Porter|
|The 6 year old shredder|