This weekend was AWESOME!! Two days, Three races and 4 medals! I headed south to the Santa Ynez US Cup race on Saturday where I decided to race the Triple Crown event which consists of three races; a short track, super d, and of course the Cross Country. Your finishing points in the cross country and your best finish in either the short track or super d are tallied up, which then designates the winners. I had no Idea how I would do, but I went out there to give it my best shot.

I have never raced a Short Track before. It consists of racing your head off for about 20 minutes as you make loops around the .8 mile relatively flat course. I learned that drafting and positioning are key, as well as a strong sprint to the finish.

Bang! We were off, and I quickly moved to one of the top three positions. After a couple laps I was shoved to the front of the pack by the guys who knew what they were doing. Let this dude pull us all around and tire him out. So I did… I led the group around a couple laps and tired myself out a bit. But I realized what was happening and soon let someone else take the lead by slowing my pace a bit. I hung on to second position until the final lap. I then made my move on the only climb of the course. Hammering up it, the guy in front couldn’t hang and dropped back to I think third position. Cody Kaiser, who I later learned is a champion Cyclocross Racer was now on my heels. Man, we were going all out at this point and were winding down to the last corner. The finish line was in sight! Sprint!! Sprint!!! OH IT HURTS!! I was going as hard as I could, but still, Cody pulled ahead of me in the last hundred yards of the race! Darn, second place!

Good Short Track

Actually I was really impressed by my finishing position, as I went into it not know what in the heck would happen. ALSO I was riding my full suspension Tallboy out there. So maybe I do have a good shot at the Triple Crown this weekend…

The next race was the Super D. I have done one of these before, so I sort of knew the drill. A Super D is basically a long downhill race with a few climbing sections. This particular race has A LOT of climbing! It’s a 2.8 mile course with about 375 feet of in your face uphill. And it is actually more of an Enduro length race (about 10 minutes). The talk was going around about how much the climbs were going to hurt, and I knew that even though it will only take about 10 minutes, it will feel like forever.

We all made our way to the top of the mountain, noodling along trying to get our legs warmed up. Clint and I rode up together and were both wondering what would come out of this race. I mentioned to him that it would be awesome if we came in as the top two, but humble as he is said there are probably some other ringers out here today. I guess I was just dreaming. So Clint’s run started a couple minutes before mine and I shouted his name in confidence that he would do great. He disappeared down the mountain and I was left up there to fend for myself. I rolled up to the line and tried to focus on the buzzer system that let us start our run on the sixth BEEP!!! I was off! There were two big drops at the start of the course, both of which I plummeted over in full commitment. Pedal, Pedal, Pedal… I was focused! Raising and lowering my dropper post as required I hammered as hard as I could!! The first climb was in front of me so I just kept turning the crank as fast as possible! Oh gosh my legs burned! Finally, another descent! This section consisted of a long flowy singltack that weaved through a stream bed and under a couple big oak trees. I was flying!! My 2.5” WTB tires were holding their line perfectly! A couple minutes later I arrived at the long climbing section. I stood up and crushed the pedals with all my ability. Oh man the burn couldn’t be any worse! I crested the hill and took a few deep breaths to try and recover for the final descent. This section was filled with a few good double jumps and a really fun table top jump that sent you floating for a few seconds. Coming up to the last single track that had a steep drop-off on the right side, I almost screwed up my run by skidding a bit, almost going off the trail. I was worried about that spot because the trail was a bit off camber, really narrow and there was nothing but a steep drop on your right side. But I managed to keep it upright, and my momentum was still flowing in the forward direction. PEDAL!!! I came through the last creek section as fast as I could and hammered around the last two corners. ANOTHER SPRINT FINISH!! So I sprinted!!

Good Super D

10 minutes 9.3 seconds… The Winning time was mine!!! And Clint was litterally right behind me with a finishing time of 10 minutes 10.8 seconds! Way to go Team Santa Cruz/FOX!

So I came back the next day to give my final shot at the Triple Crown that was beginning to look more and more feasible to podium. I guess the Cross Country course at Santa Ynez was changed from last year. This year it consisted of two laps of the 12.2 mile course with a new section of loose and powdery freshly cut trail. I knew it was going to be painful.

Sitting at the start line I could see some fast guys were here. Sid Taberlay (for those who don’t know him, he is a five time National Champion and World Championship medalist). Jason Siegle, Cody Kaiser and Clint Claassen along with a few others were all lined up side by side. Could I hang? Suddenly we were off! I ended up in the front of the line and realized that I was in the same predicament of pulling everyone around. I figured I would pedal fairly easy until we reached the first climb. There, I began to hammer and the front four guys began to create a gap. Sid and Jason crept by on the ascent, as I was thinking how much nicer it would have been climbing on a hardtail like both of them. Cody held my wheel as we crested the hill and began our first descent, trying to catch back up to the two rabbits out front. Continuing down the course Cody snuck by me on the next ascent… Hold his wheel, hold his wheel! This process of switching positions between Cody and I continued throughout the race and I tried to get as much of a free ride as possible, recovering on the downhills and trying to sit in on the flats right behind. I managed to get out front on most of the descents, where I could really let the Tallboy rip!

I could just feel that the race was going to end on a sprint finish! Cody and I rolled around the last corner and the finish line was straight ahead. I made a wider turn than expected and lost a little bit of my momentum in doing so. SPRINTING, SPRINTING!! Cody held his position and the race was complete! I finished in a solid fourth place! Clint was right behind taking 6th. Even though he felt a bit flat today, he did awesome out there! Nice job Clint! We celebrated with a couple beers that were given to us for our efforts. Thanks for the tasty Firestone!

Celebration

Results XC

Next year I think I will try this course on a hardtail. I realized that the top three guys were all sporting them, and it did not seem to slow them down on the somewhat bumpy trails. I could tell that I didn’t have the extra needed punch on the ascents. Since I am so new to racing I try and take something from every race, other than a medal. This weekend I learned that I need to work on my sprinting ability. Also, I believe I should have attacked with maybe a mile to go in the race. Then, just possibly I could have created a small enough gap to outrun Cody’s mad dash to the finish line. All in all it was a great weekend with 3 medals, a Triple Crown laser cut trophy and 200 bucks in my pocket! I also met a ton of new people and had a great time hanging out with my teammate and Clint’s Family. Nice to meet you all!

medals

A long weekend of racing called for a refuel so on my way home I made a pit stop at In-N-Out burger. I chowed down two burgers and fries. YUM!!

In n out

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