Over the last week and a halfJune 21, 2012
So over the last week and a half we've been on the road from California. We started our trip on Monday last week and made our way towards Colorado Springs, CO. Johnny Muller, team mate , Cody Phillips and I took full advantage of the fairly early start and drove our way straight into Utah, and stopped at a rest stop on the top of some mountain road. We crashed there for the night, got up SUPER early the next morning and began driving. And driving. And Driving. John then decided do a lunch stop at the traditional, Subway. This then turned into an easy spin around the area, which then lead us to some swim bathing in the Colorado River.
So at this point, the trip had gone as follows. We had made unreal progress the first day, covering close on 800miles. Then the second day, well, that was a different story. Once we had made the lunch stop that was only meant to be around 15minutes, we started up with the other activities and ended up losing a couple of hours in travel time. We drove for barely a few hours after that and pull off at a nice little rest stop in the Colorado Mountains. Cody and I went walking around, bought a horribly cheap fishing rod, which in the end didn't end up working, Cody shaved his legs, which is the most rare occurrence on the planet and we actually got him to eat a salad, which is the second most rare occurrence on the planet. Jokes aside, we had a pretty chilled day, got to hang at the river and enjoy each others company.
Day 3 of the road trip came around, and we made a beeline straight for Colorado Springs. We arrived at the Ute Valley Park in the early afternoon and went straight out to check the course for the weekends Pro XCT race. Cody and I went out in search of the course, and after a few frustrating wrong turns, we eventually figured out the course and were on our way. The course was fantastic. A true XCO course and one of the best I have ridden in the States. It was real technical and had some short punchy climbs, with the longest being around 90 seconds long. Needless to say, I was super stoked on the course, I felt it was pretty much taylor made for me and feeling some really good form coming along, I was super confident heading onto the course.
The more time I spent on the course, the better and smoother I began to feel. I was still stuck between racing the Stumpy or the Epic. The Epic would definitely save some energy and make me faster over the rough slough, but the hard tail would give me some extra snap up the short, punchy climbs. A tough decision, but after some laps on the hard tail, I felt a little beat up from the rough stuff, so I bit the bullet and went with the Epic.
Over the course of the next few days I dialed the course in on the Epic 29 and by the time the race rolled in I was confident in both my ability and equipment. As Im sure you've gathered from the title of this blog post, the race didn't end up going good. I had a call up around 20th, which had me on the third row. I managed to work my way up to sixth on the start loop, and sat nicely tucked in behind Adam Craig, Todd Wells, JHK, Sam Schultz and Finsty. I felt great as we hit the main climb of the day, and held my position through the rough technical single track that made its way to the second climb of the track. We hit the next climb and out of know where it felt as if I were riding in thick, goopy peanut butter. At first I couldn't figure out what was going wrong. At first I thought I had blown my rear shock as the rear end seemed to moving around way more than it should've. I then thought it was all in my head so I just tried riding through the race to try and salvage some points. After pulling back one or two riders on the last lap, I crossed the line in 25th overall. A VERY disappointing result. I couldn't figure out what had gone wrong, was it over training? was it malnutrition? I simply didn't know, and what frustrated me the most, was the fact that I had felt amazing all week leading up to the race. Then, team manager, Ty Kady, noticed something horribly wrong with the rear swing arm of my bike. A massive crack had formed and was flexing a considerably amount, which caused a major loss of power. Unfortunately, it could not change the result of the race, but the race is now in the past. Ive had to put the issue behind me and focus on the final two rounds of the Pro XCT series.
The great thing is, Specialized, being the company it is, replaced it right away and had a swing arm delivered here to Park City. It's really awesome to backed by such an awesome company and I really wanna give a mad shout out to both Specialized and my manager for being so on top of things!!
Sunday was the first ever XCO Eliminator here in the States, and I was excited to make up for the horrible day I had had before. Heat one I was up against the previous days winner and all round powerhouse, Ryan Trebon (Cannondale). I attacked real hard from the gun, but soon was caught by Ryan, who had brought along another rider. I sat up to relax, Ryan attacked, but I knew that there was still one more qualifying spot for the next round. As we approached the "Wall," which so happened to be an 18 percent grade climb for around 35m , I attacked the other rider hard and came in second behind Ryan, and ultimately rolled through into the semifinals.
Semifinals I was somehow up against Ryan again, as well as Rotem Ishay (Jamis Factory) and a rider from the Giant Factory Off-Road team. Off the line it was a major fight for Ryan's wheel. I managed to edge the Giant rider off the third wheel, which was Rotem, who sat right behind Ryan. Ryan attacked again at the exact same spot, but this time we were ready for it. We sat on his wheel as we descended to the foot of the "Wall" which ended onto the finish straight. Ryan kicked really hard, I followed his wheel and managed to get rid of Rotem. Ryan ended up crossing the line with me right behind him. Unfortunately this meant I wasn't in the final, but it did mean I would be fighting it out for the 5th spot.
The "Small" final was the race for 5th overall. It went pretty smooth and planned out perfectly, well almost. I attacked right where I had planned, opened up a gap and held it as we hit the finish straight, but somehow, mud had lodged in my cassette and caused my bottom three gears to jump horribly. I tried standing to sprint for the line, but was forced to sit down and try ride it out as best I could. Unfortunately, I got caught at the line. Although I just missed out and was seriously peeved about what had just happened, I was immensely happy with how good I felt, which definitely made me feel a little different about how the race went the day before.
Monday, lunch time, was spent with my coach, Jim Lehman. It was the first time Ive actually been able to spend some quality, one-on-one time with him. I need to thank him for taking time out of his schedule to go riding with me, and it was really awesome to talk and learn from him, as well as get to know him better. We got talking about the future and what it may hold, and things look promising. Needless to say, Im excited! That afternoon we did a shop ride for an awesome new place called Cafe Velo. Its a totally rad store, and caters for anyone and everyone. As the name suggests, it has some really good coffee, great food and a really cool bike display. If you're in Colorado Springs be sure to check it out.
We're now in Park City, Utah, and as is tradition with the team road trip, it didn't go off entirely smoothly. While driving through Wyoming, the gale force winds caught the awning of the RV and ripped it open. We pulled over to get the awning rolled back up. Cody and I held onto the awning for dear life while Ty tried to roll it back up. Well we're now set up here at the foot of the 2002 Winter Olympic mountain, and after having ridden some of the trails here, my mind has simply been blown. I'll definitely be posting pictures.
Until next time