Sunday, April 11, 2010

And so it begins...

Well, the 2010 racing season officially started for me last weekend and I have a packed season of racing ahead of me. Last weekend I did the first race of the Appalachian Bicycle Racing Association Series, the Morgantown Road Race, on 04/03/2010. I followed up that race this weekend by doing the Michaux Mash Endurance MTB Race on Saturday and The Allegheny Cycling Association’s Mingo RR on Sunday. Overall, I am happy with my early season fitness and how the races turned out for me.

The Morgantown RR was around 43 miles long on some very hilly terrain in southwestern Pennsylvania. In addition to the tough terrain, the temperature on race day was above 80 degrees. Yeah, I know 80 is not super hot, but when you’re used to riding in 50-60 degree weather it does make a difference. Anyway, when I race on the road, I always prefer to ride on a course that is hilly and causes the pack to naturally break up a bit. The Morgantown Course was just such a course. After the first few climbs, a group of about 7 riders, including me, split away from the rest of the pack. I did what I could in this pack to keep the pace high on the climbs, to hopefully thin out things a little more. But, by the end, my race hard tactics and the fact that I was stuck in a break with riders from the same team left me feeling pretty zapped for the last few important miles. I did finish fourth on the day, but felt like I put all I had into the event, even without the win that I wanted. BTW, JR Pesko and the rest of the Backyard Cycling Team did an outstanding job with putting on this race and certainly should be commended for a job well done.

This weekend was a different story for me at the Michaux Mash, since it was on the dirt instead of on the road. One thing I will always like better about mountain bike racing over road racing is that things separate quickly and hard riding is almost always positively rewarded. The Mash had a pretty interesting race concept, which was similar in format to a 24 hour race, with the racer doing the most laps during a set period of time being declared the winner. The Mash was set-up to be a four hour race, with each lap taking about an hour to complete on average. The first part of the race course was on a pretty long climb that lead to some really sweet technical single track, then back onto a brief stint of fire road and then back into the woods for a long technical descent back to the start/finish area. I really could not have asked for a better race on Saturday. Almost immediately, I was able to get a pretty large gap from the other racers on the first long climb. After that, I just got into a sweet groove and kept it going. The next thing I knew I had four laps done, but still had around 20 minutes of race time left. So, with a large amount of time remaining, I had no other choice but to go back out for a fifth lap to ensure victory. My last lap went as good if not better for me than the first four and I rode to the finishing line aboard my Salsa Mamasita with the overall win in hand. I can’t describe how good it felt to have a very solid early season ride and also how nice it was to ride a bike that absolutely worked flawlessly. Thanks to Zack Adams and Fast Forward Cycling for promoting one heck of a cool race.

After such a hard effort on Saturday, I knew my legs would not feel too fast in a road race on Sunday, but I decided to do the ACA Mingo RR anyway. If nothing else, I figured it would be some good training and an opportunity to see some friends. I was definitely correct with the forecast of how my legs would feel at the race. I mostly hung in the pack, but I did get the opportunity to put down a few hard efforts during the race. By the end, I finished with the pack and was convinced once again that mountain bike racing is so much more enjoyable for me to do than road racing. Since I got a ride to the race from Brain W. in his truck, I was able to do a nice long ride home to flush the legs of their past two days of hard efforts and it certainly felt good to do.

So, now that the season has started I will try to write my blog updates a little more frequently. It just seems that with all there is to do in life sometimes my blog entries take the back seat to other things, like riding for instance. I am kind of up in the air about which race I am going to do next weekend, but at the moment I am leaning towards doing an XC race at Big Bear, WV in preparation for the first NUE Series Race, the Cohutta 100, the following weekend. Wow, I can’t believe racing is in full swing now when I was skiing on some really deep snow here only about a month and a half ago.

Well, that is about it for now…Enjoy your racing season my friends whether it be on the road or mountain bike. Happy Trails!

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