When there's a jersey on the line everyone brings their a-game, follows their superstitions, quadruple-checks their equipment and hopes their stars align. It's not a race you can fake and hope for a miraculous performance. With that sentence I am frustrated with myself for being frustrated with myself. This year's National Championship mountain bike course was physically the hardest race I have ever done. It started at the Sun Valley ski resort with an elevation of 6,000ft and climbed straight up an access road. Straight. Up. Steep. Indeed, many riders found themselves having to walk their bikes through loose sections of this climb. Once having reached the summit of this 'death-march' we turned left and descended all the way back into the venue, a long, wooded and enclosed switch-backing descent on a loose soil trail whose turns grew more & more rutted as more riders rode it. The switchbacks brought us out of the woods and to a rock-face funnel into the expo area where we looped around the village, hit a flyover, and danced with a man made rock garden before the feed-zone to begin our ascent again. To be honest, the course was anything but enjoyable. It kicked my arse and clawed my eyes out and strangled my lungs.
Simon and I flew to Boise Wednesday to spend a day with our friends Tim, Chellie, and their whipper snapper Henry and furry friend Ruby. They took right good care of me with the Point 6 wool sock company sprinter van and the K-Edge E-Z up tent; I had a cool place to hang out, the support of my friends and a cleanly running bike.
My race, however was grim. I suffered from the same thing every other person was dealing with: the heat, restricted breathing from the cottonwoods blooming and the never-ending climb. It's a result I am not proud of; my legs just weren't where they needed to be for a National Championship race. I know the adequate time and miles were not logged onto my mountain bike this season, but crashes and health are uncontrollable (to an extent). I had the network of support from the crankbrothers race club, friends, family, stress-free travel; I believe every extraneous box was checked but without the proper training I couldn't perform with or beside my peaking competition. There's a period of time to reflect on the race, to observe where things went well or wrong, to learn from mistakes and to notice positive aspects . The positive is I am healthy now, I didn't give up on the race and it was an honest effort. I can now work twice as hard for the upcoming cross season. Who knows, maybe being off-form in July will pay dividends this fall & winter for the demanding cyclocross season I have planned!