Monday, June 16, 2008
Discovery Mountain Bike Race - Who said road biking isn't good for mountain biking?
We had a great weekend at the Discovery Mountain Bike Race. The photos don't do the race justice. It was true mountain biking. Too often in cross and mountain, Montana races are flat, dry, and fast. Sunday's course rewarded technical riding. There was lot's of mud, water, and snow. Then, to really throw off the technical riders, there was a 3 mile forest road climb. I usually try not to throw a ton of photos of myself up, but my fiance was the photographer so I didn't have much to choose from.
More importantly, the winner on the day was Frank G. I love Frank's riding style. Just when you start to forget about him, he surprises you and takes a win. He did that during cross too. He kept placing high and not winning. I didn't mention him a lot and then all the sudden he took Helena and the State Championship. This road season he's been placing ok, but hasn't been a big winner. So, just when you think his form might be a little off, he comes back and steals the win from a solid field. Ever consistent John Curry took second, and Butterfield (who was killing it on the road sections) took third. I guess Frank the Tank road away on one of the descents and wasn't seen again. Doug Dale performed his usual Discovery tactics. Just like last year he went for broke on the first technical descent and had a solid gap going into the road climb. And just like last year his equipment/gear choice/partying failed him (Dale, your a good sport for coming out after Saturday night).
Downtown Joel Brown continued his rookie of the year campaign with a 2nd in sport. He couldn't overtake the always strong Thomas from GAS. In the ladies, crosser Michelle Richardson looked strong in the beginner. Soph SAK Kircos rode hard in sport to claim the only spot as did L Curry who came in with a great time of 1.58 for the course.
Cronicles from the back (long rant, sorry):
It was decided amongst the Missoula possie (Downtown JB, Horangatang, Dale, SAK, Mary, Connelly) that the key was to run the first part of opening climb. Some folks tried to ride it, but others like myself ran it. I ran behind Alex L for 50 meters. I decided that he knew what he was doing so once he hopped on I would too. This strategy worked great, but I was so afraid of blowing up so I rode easy for the first climb and tried to keep a couple folks in sight. Scotty passed me on the climb pretty fast, and I didn't think I could sustain his pace. So, more or less in the opening 2 miles I was with Alex L, Connelly, Herzig, and Sten (Muleterro). Down the first descent I saw Connelly, and immediately knew he had crashed. The kid is a wild man, and he was either going to be first on the descent by a huge margin or crash hard and be back with me. Our little group re-conveinced on the descent, but once we hit the rolly section Scotty was gone and that was the last I saw of him. Alex L. was pacing himself, and I thought I could pass him but I knew his strength and hesitated. I kind of wanted to follow figuring he'd pick it up and take me past people. Connelly flew past both of us and I thought to myself that maybe all those early morning workouts he'd been doing were paying off (I haven't ridden with C-man this year and didn't know his fitness). Alex, slowly climbed away from me and once we got to the road, I said good bye. So, alone again in a mountain bike race I had memories of last year riding two circuits and never seeing anyone, finishing dead last. I thought to myself at least the weather is nice and the mountain views are in full force. In mountain bike racing I always come up with little plans in my head. True mountain bikers just go hard from the gun and never stop. I'm not like that, I need action and tactics. So, once off the back I formulated my plan for the day. Unlike last year I knew this year had lots of technical riding on the back stretch. I am not as technically sound as Toby or Frank the Tank, but I knew for the back end of the field I was pretty good. So, once we hit the snow and mud I would go 100%. Maybe then on the second lap I could catch Connelly, Alex, or Herzig. The road climb was not a single speed's strengths, so I would go hard on the road climbs but even at my max rpm's I was still not close to my max power output, and therefore was getting sort of a rest on the climbs. With my plan in full effect I go motivated again and railed the first technical descent. On the road climb Sten from Muleterro came flying by me. This was not a slow pass, I mean flying by me, like twice as fast. It was a huge heartbreaker for me, considering I was spinning as fast as I could. I put my head down and stuck to the plan of going 110% on the technical section. My plan worked and I got Sten in the snow, and then passed him on the first snow hill past the finish. Talking to folks afterwards it sounded like the 29er tires had a bit of advantage. I kept thinking about Dave Hartman. He's a magician with his single speed 29er, and his secrets are balance, center of gravity, no fear and small stature. I knew I was small, and had ok balance, so all I was missing was the no fear. Through the snow sections I would repeat in my head "pedal, pedal, pedal." It was all about momentum. The last lap of the race I spun harder on all the road climbs, and took more risks on the descent. I had knew confidence from passing Sten and seeing Cass and Max at the start/finish area. Up every little rise I saw Connelly just about to crest. I knew the technical descent was coming, so I figured if I could keep him in my sight I'd beat him up the remaining climbs. Connelly is a great descender and I crashed hard trying to follow him. I was shooken up and took a pee break to try and relax. I said good bye to my chances of catching Chris, and kept looking back for Sten to catch up. He never did, and it made me feel better about the work I had put in on the technical sections to distance him. I got back on the bike with new confidence and spun hard up the road climb. I caught Connelly at the top and told him I'd let him lead on the descent. He led me through the all the technical puddles and ruts. I figured Chris would normally beat me through the snow section, but I knew he was tired or else I wouldn't have caught him on the climb. So, I powered away on the one of the tracks and tried not to look back. I repeated my chant again "pedal, pedal, pedal." I came across the line and felt great. I finished 7th, but that didn't really matter. The race reminded me of being in the sport category and really racing against folks. It was great doing battle with Sten and Chris. It made me remember why I like mountain bike races.
Good job to Frank, John, and Matt. See ya'll up in the fish!