Going into the XC nationals I thought I had a pretty good chance of winning. Only to find out on my way to the race there were some ringers showing up so I decides to just go for a top 10 finish. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t going to give up on winning I was just trying to be a little more realistic. The course was pretty fun with some good technical sections and good climbs. There were a couple parts of the course that could have been better, the first was the start, about an 18% grade with no time to get momentum (this is also where the feed zone was). Second was the final descent, at least 2 miles of trail that was “built” in the week(s) leading up to the race by riders following flags through the woods. Needless to say every time you rode the “trail” it was different, and the holes and moon dust were deeper.
The race started off slower than I had expected, except for Jake and Dejay going off the front. I was able to get in the lead group and cruse with the four others all the way to the top of the first lap. From there things got spread out and I stayed in fourth or fifth place the rest of the day, finishing in 5th. I missed out on the win by about 5 minutes but at least 3 of the 4 in front of me were Pros. So I feel pretty good with A 5TH place finish.
After the race I turn my lack of focus to the short track race that will happen on Sunday(if they have a course ready). Nobody knew what the course would be when I asked around on Saturday. It turns out they had a 200 yard trail they were using then they taped off the rest of the course through the sage brush and a grassy ski slope.
I showed up at the start line 10 minutes before the 10:45 start time only to find out that my age group had been pushed back to 11:30. SO MUCH FOR WARMING UP… thanks USA Cycling. I sat around for a while and talked to some folks and watched a couple other races, then decided to head over to the course to try and do another lap before the race started only to hear over the loud speaker: “the course is closed until we say it is open!”. So I waited, watching the starting line. Then all of the sudden with no announcement that the “course was open” the start line was three deep and I was the only one not there. Well the plan for the day was to get a great fast workout, and I had my work cut out for me. Instead of trying to work my way into the group I decided to line up 15 feet behind the group and wait for a hole to open up.
The gun went off and I was already rolling, it took less than 50 meters for the hole to open. I had a clear shot up the grass next to the single track as all the people on 26” wheels were scared move off the groomed path. At the top of the climb I had moved from off the back to about 8th position, and was feeling good. Each of the next three laps I picked off a couple people on the climb then recovered on the descent. Once I caught the leader I sat on his wheel for about a lap then made my move with two laps togo. He couldn’t respond to my pace up the hill and I never saw him again rolling across the finish line for and easy win and my third national title. So I have now won the 100 national series, the marathon and Short track. Kind of a weird combo, I always though it would be tough to win a XC championship. I never even thought I would be anywhere near the front of a short track race.