I'm at the midway point of my season here and the State Championship race on Saturday has me questioning what direction I should head in. The main goal of my training this season was to have good form for the D.IN.O AMBC race on July 5th. Other then a few bumps in the road I was feeling really good going into.
I woke up to pouring rain Saturday at Lake Sara and as the day progressed I started to ask myself if I really wanted to pass up the good time with Casey and her family that was going down, go do openers in the pouring rain only to have to clean my bike again, wake up at 5 am to drive 3.5 hrs to IN (4.5 with the time change) and all the while wonder if I was going to miss out only to wake up and hear that the race was cancelled. Ironically, the conditions were shaping up to be just about perfect for me, the course was my kind of course and I knew I was faster than last year when I won the Expert overall. I also knew that Andy Messer was faster and wanted to go to battle with him again, as he is a great competitor and we're tied at 1-1, but for some reason this year my desire to train is as strong as it ever has been but I don't feel the need to prove as much to myself. Plus, I'm saving all the fire I can for CX as I do have some things to prove. Even after all that, the decision was quite simple and Casey and I made some drinks, she piloted us out in the boat and she taught me to water ski. After watching her make shredding on one ski look so easy I decided that was what I should do. After 5 attempts and massive amounts of water blasted through my face into my brain she pleasantly recommended (with a little smirk) that I should try two skis and after my second attempt I was flossing.
July 5th was pretty much a perfect day and I didn't regret my decision one bit. After 6 hours or so of fishing I finally managed to trick a 12" bass and the beers tasted so much better after a couple hour ride in the cornfields, on the dock, as the sun finally came out.
I was pretty confident going into the USAC State Championship race the next Saturday but was definitely aware that CP was going to have a serious spark after two weeks of dirt crits, which he did. Looking back at some lap times, I didn't have a bad race, but Chris was just really good at the mega power output on the flats and his 29" wheels and suspension were clearly a better choice for this course.
I had a good start, was going well and leading Chris and Bob as the three of us distanced ourselves from the small field. We came around a blind corner and came up on the guy and son (who I had told while pre-riding to be careful as a race was coming in their direction) and I had nothing to do but hit the brakes or hit them. CP saw it coming but Bob didn't and crashed into Chris. We slowed up and turned around to make sure Bob was up and Chris gave me the go ahead to resume my punishment.
Chris started opening up a gap on the first descent but I was overly confident that I had the juice and would bring him back in. On the second lap he was about 30 seconds ahead of me on the second climb and I thought it was about time to reel him in and start racing so I punched the big ring up the second part of the climb and kept him in sight. Once again, he gaped me on the descent. I came through the tunnel and when I went over the concrete my chain fell off and slipped between the chain pin and crank arm. This has been a persistent problem for me running a 42/29 and a regular 44/32/22 triple mountain derailleur. I can't wait until the Sram XX double front comes out. I lost a considerable amount of time that first time but only a little more the next two times it happened. I would guess I lost about two minutes to mechanical that day, which totally sucked, but wasn't the difference between winning and losing as Chris was the clear champ that day. Oh well, winning the MWFTS State Championship in a mega stacked field was pretty nice, not to hide or downplay the fact that I really wanted the USAC Jersey and Chris clearly earned it.
I have to commend James Nelson for putting on a great race and the incredible work he did (or was able to have done) to get the course ready even if I was really disappointed with the turnout and thought it was a really weak excuse (the turnout and timing, not James effort) for a State Championship race. While the allure of a State Championship Jersey will always motivate me to be there, the turnout for Sundays OMBA Carumba race was much better and it would have been nice to go head to head with the a field like that, but once again, Case and I were just having a little too much fun and driving 7 hours to race with wasted legs wasn't sounding so good.
So, after about 4 weeks of peak intensity workouts and race week hours (without enough racing stimulus) I'm not feeling as motivated as usual and the legs aren't recovering as fast as they should be. Although I want to be competitive at Rock Bridge and Castlewood, I'm not sure what I have left in the tank but am going to try to take it easy for a couple days, see if the legs come around, put in a big weak before Rock Bridge and see if I can jam at Castlewood. August is pretty much a transition month for me and I plan on putting in some big fun time on the mountain bike without too much high intensity. Spanish Lake is a CX course and CX season is still a little ways off so I think I'll be skipping that one. Back to working on the wattage cottage.
Here are some frickin' sweet photos from my friend Chris Bunn.