Sunday, August 03, 2008

Final short track report + Winter Park

Be forewarned, long racer-geek post. Minimal framebuilding content today, I will have something fairly interesting on that front tomorrow, though.

Wednesday was Sarah and I's final short track of the year, as we're headed to Vermont on monday morning and will miss the finals. Temps in Boulder have been running in the mid to high 90s for like 3 weeks now (no joke, it's cooler in Moab!) and I'd just had a cavity filled at the dentist (joy) so my enthusiasm wasn't high. I managed to talk myself into twist-tying on a number and rolling over to the course, thinking I'd probably just watch (a toothache plus race-pace suffering is a bad combo, methinks).

As usual, though, once I was at the race, I couldn't help but get excited about it, despite the dust, sun, and furnace-like air. Sarah raced the women's A race and did quite well, beating everyone but the pros, and doing some sweet jumps that none of the other girls would hit. She definitely had the game face on as well, and I gave her some good cheers from the gallery, since "warming up" seemed painful and redundant.

The guys race had about 30-35 - not a huge field, but a lot of fast folks were there. Because we're all so competitive, we had some fairly hilarious start-line creep (people kept trying to get in front of each other, and pushing forward) until we'd only left ourselves about 50 feet of doubletrack to the first (sharp, loose, horrible) turn. Nice work, everyone. The efforts of Abby the short-track goddess to get us to move back to the _original_ start line were unsuccessful, so the sprint to the corner was a little crazy. I had to lock up both wheels at one point, and I know there was some crashing behind me, though luckily no one went down in front.

I don't know what my story was, but I felt great - picked off rider after rider and moved up to 5th or 6th place by the end of the race. I was making tons of time on the steep downhills and hip jumps - which made me feel good about my bike handling. And I felt like I had power to spare - Brady and Fuentes (the lead group) finished only about 20 seconds ahead of me, whereas in a typical race, they'd have had put 2-3 minutes in by the end. So essentially my best short track race ever.

Eszter ripped it up in the women's A race and took 4th (and she's solidly on track to win the series) and Fuentes looks like a lock to win the men's series, so we're looking at a nice sweep by team Waltworks. Sweet!

I spent Thursday and Friday suffering in the heat in the shop and trying to get things wrapped up before Vermont (Lorne, if you don't email me your address, you're not getting your fork until I get back!) But we did a good job preparing for Saturday's Crankworx (gah, I hate substituting X for ks, don't you?) race - rode hard but not too long on Friday, drank lots of liquids, and stuffed ourselves with homemade lasagna (anyone want me to post a new recipe? Or is everyone glad that I don't do that anymore?) I was feeling confident after the short track success as well, and we even managed to make it to the start with 10 minutes to spare (I'm notorious for missing the starts of races that begin at the Frasier end of the valley)

The field, to be honest, was totally stacked. Jay Henry, Colin Cares, Rad Ross Schnell, and Andy Schultz were among the super-super fast pros that I was pretty sure would absolutely crush me. We had about 50 guys on the start line, and I was gunning to beat my 3 rivals for the final series podium - Brady, Mike, and Micah. The course was pretty brutal - 24 miles and a solid 4+k feet of climbing, including some nice steep technical stuff - WTB, upper Elk Creek, D4, etc. Here's a profile of the course (stolen from the WP race site).

The race started SUPER fast and I could see a lead group off the front immediately - though of course I was way at the back and could do nothing but watch in awe. I knew it was going to be a long race, though, so I kept it a bit below max and tried to really pace myself up the massive 2200 foot opening climb. That strategy paid off, as a big chunk of the field blew up and I rode into about 15th place by the top of the climb, passing both Brady and Micah (both of whom I would end up beating, albeit not by much) by the top. The descent was awesome and I caught a few more people, though they got me back on the flat/rolling descent of some fire road and the Zoom trail.

For most of the middle section of the race, Brady and I swapped places in around 12th position, with me passing him on the climbs and him getting me back on the flatter descents and road sections where I was spun out. At the bottom of Chickadee (the base of the final 1000 foot climb) I knew I had to go harder, so I attacked and quickly got a significant gap. Over the course of the climb, I caught up to another rider just before we turned onto singletrack to descend to the base, and I actually managed to outsprint him to the trail. Then I caught and passed a Tokyo Joes rider on the descent and came within 8 seconds of catching my arch-nemesis Mike. I was really letting it all hang out on the descent and even have a nice bruise on my shoulder from getting friendly with a tree, but it was worth it, as I snuck into the top 10 and finished 9th, probably the result I'm most proud of for the whole season. I only lost 7 minutes to the eventual winner Jay Henry, and I was within striking distance of a number of really fast guys, so I'm super happy. Might have to put some gears on next year... but I doubt I will. The singlespeed is way too fun.

Sarah also had an excellent race and finished 2nd in the expert women, and Eszter rocked it and took 2nd in pro (and I think she got a big fat check, too!) Rusty had a hard race and was 21st in sport, and I think Taryn was 7th or 8th in sport. Great racing all around!

I think they were paying out 10 deep, but I figured I'd only get $50 or something, so we ditched out just as the rain was starting to fall and the slopestyle comp was starting. Crankworx was really a great scene this year, with a HUGE crowd out to drink beer, eat brats, ride their bikes, and watch the pros throw backflips and tailwhips off of huge dirtjumps. Definitely something to check out in 2009 if you're in Colorado.

Tomorrow: belt drive first pictures!


Anonymous said...

Walt, give us another lasagne recipe. Good write up about your races. Do you have Paragon sliders on your race bike?

Eszter said...

No check. Just cold, hard, cash.

And a tax form to fill out, doh!