Friday, July 18, 2008

Red Jersey Summer Race Series

Stop two in the Red Jersey Summer Race series took place on the Thorne Pond trails at Attitash on Thursday, July 17th.

A field of close to 70 riders showed up for the 6pm start on a course that is about as pancake flat as you can get up in the White Mountains. Each lap maybe had 25 feet of total elevation gain and loss- maybe. A bit different then what many of my Team teammates were getting ready to tackle over at Mount Snow for nationals!

I raced in the expert vets so we had four laps of the two-mile course. To describe the course, it’s very flat, very twisty, full of roots and baby heads and in may places very narrow. Passing in the first half mile is next to impossible, then you have a short window of opportunity before you dunk back into very tight single track, then you pop back out onto a long straight with great passing opportunity before heading back into the darkest section of single track I think you can ride on a day with plenty of sunshine. After that you get onto another wide-open dragway good for passing before hitting another 1/8th of mile stretch of twisty single track followed by fairly open terrain back to the start finish.

It’s a fun course and you can ride as fast as you dare. I always find it’s not my legs but my nerves and shoulders that get beat up as I’m not the best bike handler at times! I raced my Salsa Mamasita with the Mavic C29’s and X9 drive train and a Rock Shock Reba up front. The bike ran great and I was pleased with how the bike as a hard tail dealt with the roots. I do think I’ll kick down for a Moots Ti post (which is what I run on my Salsa El Mariachi SS and I love it!) at some point in the near future to “soften” that back end of the bike even a touch more.

It was pretty warm out and I was enjoying the summer weight Team jersey. Add all the vents in the Lazer helmet and I was pretty comfortable despite the mid July heat.

The race kicked off and I had made a determination to try and hit the first single track at the tail end of the fast group. I managed to do that but then heard my name getting called followed by on your left- which normally is fine- but there wasn’t any room on my left- nor my right for that matter- but Sam bulled his way by and then promptly had to jump on his breaks as I was right on the wheel of the guy in front of me. I eased up a bit to let Sam in, then he dumped it on a hard left hander in the sand- so I passed him again but KNEW he’d be trying to get by me again- which made me a bit nervous. Sam is a great kid and strong as an ox, someday he’ll be a good racer, but right now he’s still a bull in a china shop and I knew I was likely to be the china. I could hear him coming up behind me again passing people and likely putting them into the trees as he did- and when he got up behind I told him to hang on for a second as we were about to hit the first open space and I’d let him by. We came out into the open I pulled to the right to give him a clear shot but he had already made up his mind he was going before I moved meaning that he was farther left then he needed to be- we’ll I wasn’t the china but the small pine tree that he completely ran over (he stayed upright somehow) didn’t fair so well. Needless to say I was glad he was in front of me as now I could relax a bit and just ride my race.

At this point I hooked in with another rider and we had a good rythem going, I was faster in the open and he was faster in the woods so a bit of a gap would open and then I’d close it down. Soon we were joined and then we were hauling around the course.

I was really enjoying the race and my handling started to improve as I got to know all the corners and roots. I actually wouldn’t have minded if the race ran a few more laps as my legs and lungs felt great. As we came into the final lap I put in a bit of an effort and got by a handful of people and rolled in with a place yet to be posted (off the podium, that I do know). The race was won by Austin Orth who also took third this past weekend at Newton’s Revenge- nice ride Austin!

A good time and a good workout to develop a bit of leg speed and handling skills as we get closer and closer to the 24 Hours of Great Glen in less then a month.

Next race in the series will be at Cranmore in August.

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