With cross-country nationals coming up in Sol Vista, CO, racers are scrambling to get used to riding at 9,000 feet. Fortunately for me, Boulder, CO is pretty high already and also has easy access to the super high riding and racing that we’ll have to deal with at nationals. My past two races—a cross-country race in Winter Park and the Marathon National Championships in Breckenridge, CO last weekend—were perfect preparation.
My first mountain bike races ever were at Winter Park, and the series is still one of my favorites. It’s an easy day-trip from home, and I’m almost guaranteed that my Small Block Eight tires will be the ticket on Winter Park’s fast and dry trails. These races attract strong fields from the Front Range, but they also have a super laid back feel. This time, I felt great and was content with a second place finish to Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski.
With a marathon stars and stripes jersey at stake and a cross-country nationals at altitude looming, this year’s Firecracker 50 attracted a strong field including teammates Amanda Carey, Heather Holmes, and Andy Schultz. In the men’s race, Andy immediately jumped into the front group with JHK and Garmin roadie Pete Stetina on the first long road climb. This was justification for me to let Jeremiah Bishop and Dave Wiens do the bulk of the pace making, though there isn’t much “sitting in” to be had on a climb at altitude. Towards the top, I recognized that familiar tingly arm-sensation and taste of iron that one gets when going hard in the high country, and I tried to settle in to a more sustainable pace.
I’m not whether I didn’t feel great or whether the demands of that race are just so great, but it took everything I had to stay in it mentally. Ultimately, I crossed the line in 5th, which was my first podium at an elite nationals and great day of HARD training for nationals. Heather took 5th in the women’s race, Andy was 6th, and Amanda took a solid 7th despite a flat tire. Despite Breck’s bumpy trails, we all rode Tomac hardtails, which I think contributed to a good day for Kenda/Tomac/Hayes for the simple fact that they’re so light.
Now it’s a matter of staying healthy and fit in the final lead-up to nationals. After that, it’s back to sea level for the Canadian World Cups and the Mt. Snow, VT and Windham, NY US Cups.
Thanks for reading!