Monday, June 27, 2011

June has treated me well

Vacation. Time away… that was what I needed. This may seem a little counterintuitive, because, after all I had just spent the better part of 5 months, mid January through the end of May, on the road. I think I accumulated something near 70,000 frequent flyer miles, across 2 hemispheres, 4 continents, and 6 countries. I raced 11 of 13 weekends, 9 of them straight through, compiling something like 24 days of racing over the course of my spring campaign.
But once I got home, it felt like I couldn’t get out of Bozeman fast enough! I arrived with a house to empty and clean, as my lease was up 24hrs after my arrival home. I proceeded to clean and move, with little sleep, and ran as many quick errands as possible in the short time I was around.

Then I packed back up, my Subaru this time, and headed for Northern Idaho (or North Idaho if your from them backwoods parts). Sandpoint. Back in the day we used to race the Schweitzer Mt. NORBA, but for me this visit was all about getting away from racing. I essentially took a week off the bike… I hung out with Karina and her family on the beach, read books, napped and slept in. I tuned out. I didn’t check my email, facebook or text messages. I didn’t answer (too many) phone calls. It was splendid. I drank beer, ate cheese, and delicious rhubarb and huckleberry pies for breakfast, lunch and dessert.

That town is sweet. It’s pretty little, everything around it is crazy conservative and weird, but just about any night of the week you can find good music, local beer flowing and young, open-minded people doing cool stuff. There’s a really active group building sweet, flow-y trails right in town too. Karina showed me around some of the local bests… Saringa trails, and Gold Hill, just some really stellar riding. It was the anti-training, and it felt sooo damn good!

But Monday rolled around quickly and although I was still pretty checked out, it was time to start training again after a well earned week off. I kept the vacation feel to it all

though… there wasn’t anything too intense, and a couple long road rides were really good for the soul, it gave me some time to think about this next block of big races and do a little motivation searching.

Karina and I blasted back to Washington too… it was good to be home, but it was a nut house. My sister decided she did indeed want to finish high school in what proved to be the 11th hour, but it all come together. I am really proud of her, and I hope it proves to be a milestone in her life. This is the first time I can remember than she actively chose to better her life. It seems like she’s always fighting against that current. Anyways, graduation means grandparents, aunts and uncles, family friends and the such. This is all on top of the time I needed to spend training and the places and things I wanted to go and do with Karina. We managed to fit in a good week though. Got to ride the Gultch with Karina, talk politics with my grandpa, did some incredibly good training and testing with Jason and I even remembered to get the Quincy asparagus for my Mom on our way into town and order a new BMC FourStroke 01 for my dad (he loves it by the way… said it felt like a big Cadillac on the bumpy sections, just keeping the ride smooth, but rips uphill and accelerates like a jet!). It was like drinking from a fire hose, in the best kind of way. I think Karina had more time on her hands than I did while we were in Cashmere, and got through a few good books.

But as soon as we were finally able to breath, it was time to deliver Karina back to Sandpoint, and for my return to Bozeman in preparation for 5 weeks of big races. But not before a breathtaking road ride along the Lake Cour’de Lane shoreline. North Idaho really left an impression on me, I’m pretty excited to get back.

All this left only 3 days of my 3 week vacation left, but by the time I got back to Bozeman I was recharged and back on the Blackberry. I had errands to run, laundry, and packing and training to accomplish. It was grand. I caught up with Zach before he left for Colorado, we climbed a big grain silo and spent part of an evening just hanging out, watching the sunset and chatting about everything. Man Date. But seriously I was glad to see him before he took off to finish his Masters thesis in the solitude of his parents home. We also got out for a ride with Tisza, and Nick one evening, up Leverich. Probably the one time this year I will ride that trail.

4:30 came pretty early on Thursday, and 11pm came pretty late that night, but I made it to Wisconsin for the Subaru Cup Pro XCT safely. And what a sweet weekend it was. I finished 5th in the XC… it was essentially the same course as last year, but a totally different race. I battled missed the front group of Wells, Plaxton and Kabush, because JHK’s big 29” wheels didn’t seem to corner and accelerate as well as my 26” BMC teamelite. So although I missed that, I caught and passed Taberlay, and essentially rode in 4th just ahead of those two for most of the race (I still can’t believe this is happening), until Adam came ripping past going into the final lap. Remarkably, it wasn’t the descents that caused a problem for me… I absolutely couldn’t hold his wheel on the climbs!

The guy has some fitness. And that’s good, he had a tough first half of the season. Looks like he’s doing something right! But man did he pay for it! It took him 45 min to get from the finish line to the team trailer, as his back seized up, and after 2 hrs he was still struggling to walk under his own power. I wont give him too much shit about missing my first ever Pro XC podium. Haha!

Sunday was tough, I has some pretty saucy legs warming up and although I had a good start, I was just hanging on the back of our lead group in the STXC until 10 min in. The legs came around and I tried to break away with Traboo-hoo, but the chase group brought us back. So I then just hung toward the back and let everyone else do the work. I am getting to understand how this stuff works now… and I can sit in pretty comfortably now. I had a good view when Trebon faceplanted in a sandy corner and then in the next Kabush went down too. That left 6 of us at the front with 3 laps to go… and me questioning my tactics afterward. I decided to sit on Todd’s wheel, believing he would be the one to make a move in the final laps, but instead it was Sid who went, with JHK and Plaxton… I tried to respond, got blocked out by Todd as Sam got shelled off the back. I kept giving it a try as Todd and I ripped around the final lap, but didn’t have another good opportunity until the sprint where Todd drifted and thus forced me toward the barriers. He got me by only a few inches though! I tried. But still, 2 podiums in 2 races this weekend. I know a couple of Olympians who can’t even say that! It means the form I had earlier has hung around. I’m as good or better now, and so excited for the Mont-Ste-Anne World Cup this weekend and then Windham, Nats and Missoula Pro XCT. But first its back to Bozeman for 72hrs to get some mountain air, and a little rest. Pretty stoked going into these next couple of world cups… Ill let you know how it goes. Hoping for an opportunity to win here in North America!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

World Cupping

Everyone was waiting for me once the elite men’s race was over on Sunday… with all the staff and junior men and women there were probably 20 people loitering around the vans while I went to talk to Larissa at BMC about some tires. After my quick errand there, I said goodbye to David, the manager and the riders of the Euro Team. Things seemed to go well for that crew, Moritz spent the day in the chase group, and although Patrick was going backwards all day, everyone else seemed to moving up. On the way back to the vans though I popped my head into the Rothaus-Poison tent to say goodbye to Felix. He and I first were introduced 3 years ago now, when I first came to Europe. At that time I wasn’t even remotely competitive with him… last year he won the German U23 National Championships, a super talented guy. After 3 years we’ve gotten to know one another better, he’s genuinely a good person, a lot of fun to hang out with… we actually spent all day together watching the elite race with one of the German National Team coaches (who actually used to race against Marc). I regress, anyways while I dropped in I got some shoulder pats, and high fives I realized what an international family I have now in this sport. No only do I have genuine and talented friends around the globe, but people know who I am… I’m becoming a recognizable figure in this sport, and it feels incredible. Especially because I have come from such obscurity, growing up racing in central Washington, my dad and I traveling every year to Sea Otter and Nationals, racing under the banner of a Arlberg Sports, a local bike shop that would give me a deal on products. I never really conceived that I would actually make a name for myself, or be vying for a podium spot in a World Cup… I was hoping for a free frame and jersey! But its so much more than that… regardless of whether I ever have a poster made of my face, I am getting to travel the world, meet people I would never otherwise know, ride in the most incredible places and although I have always know what a treat that is, I am still learning how unique and brilliant this is.

As I have kind of eluted to, the race on Saturday was beyond words. I had a good start this time around, maybe 10th going into the first lap. I spent the rest of the race between the chase group and the lead… I would bounce between the two. The lead would surge, then slow, it was a sizable group maybe 8 guys, so I was in about the same position I finished Dalby in for the majority of those 5 laps… Just riding at my own pace. I could have forced in and gotten in the lead group, but all those surges would have wrecked my legs. It was better to be between 5-10 seconds off and just riding my own race. But dudes started popping with about two laps to go, and I again got back on the back end of the group. This time I stuck and we widdled it down to just 5 of us, with Fabian Canal about 10 sec back. On the last lap, up the twisting backside climb, zee Austrian surged and it left four of us. He only put in about 10 sec, but none of us could bring that back. I put in a big effort with about 2 km to go… I dropped everyone, but the remaining 3 worked to get me back, and then as we cruised through the final technical sections, Canal came back, and the Focus-MIT kid put in about 5 seconds on us. It wasn’t much, maybe 20 meters, but it was enough to stick on the final short, and punchy climb. I got to the front of our quartet again, fighting now for 3rd, but Canal threw some elbows, I got knocked off my line, fell back and lost Markus’ wheel with 500m to go. I just couldn’t hold the effort over the top into the stadium. The 2 meters grew to 5 and then to 10 and I sat up and rolled across the finish line! Sixth though! Damn!

I got picked for Anti-doping… it was my first time, and I absolutely didn’t drink enough during the race so although everything went fine, it took for ever. I think I put down 5 liters of Gatorade. Also, they don’t let the Chaperones go home until EVERYBODY has peed, so they were all sitting around trying to pep talk me and the Austrian while we rehydrated. It took both of us almost 2 hrs. There was some cheering on their behalf once we were done! I think they were getting tired of sitting there playing with their cell phones while all the other volunteers were out partying post race…

Unfortunately the real world doesn’t care how you finish in a world cup… my flight from Chicago to Bozeman was delayed 3 hrs… so I arrived at 130am, and didn’t get into bed until 230. Jet lag was kind enough to wake me up four hrs later, and I spent 15 hrs yesterday moving and cleaning. Got to bed at 11pm, and again jetlag woke me up with the birds at 4:30… and a bloody noise. Probably too many cleaning product fumes yesterday.

So right now its 6:20 I have already made coffee and written a blog post. Time to go scrub some kitchen floors I guess.

Heres a photo of Chloe getting gnar on the Wolf Drop. Notice the front wheel off the ground.