Updates from Bard

Cross of the North (races 2 and 3)

All four times I've raced the COTN courses at The Ranch, they always manage to have a feature or two that scares me to death the first time I come up to it.  During pre-ride, I'm lucky to get through some of these drops rubber side down.  But every time I've survived the race having conquered something new, and feeling much more confident in my riding and racing.

Bard rocking the runup!

Photo by Pedal Dancer

This year's installment featured a lot of the deep, wet peanut butter mud that I got baptized with last year.  While most of the course was nice and tacky, the north end in the bowl was super thick, and not really rideable on Saturday.  That meant I was finally able to really put this running advantage I keep telling myself that I have to some good use!  The few guys that tried riding the deep stuff had little success, and with the exception of a very graceful slide through the tape on the first lap, I was able to pick up a spot or two in the run on most laps.  Unfortunately I started cracking on the last lap, and dropped a couple spots on the long climb out of the bowl, ending up just inside the top twenty for the first time this season.

Sunday was drier, but with all the power washing going on in the pit, the north side was still pretty wet and deep.  I was able to ride it three times, but stalled and had to run it a couple laps.  The legs felt better today, and I kept up the effort though all five laps.  One bobble on the final lap set me down in one of the tight turns, costing me one spot, but I managed another top twenty finish.  Tons of fun on great courses this weekend...thanks to the COTN crew!  Hopefully I can make it out and race all three days next year.

Looking calm following the off camber drop

Photo by Bo Bickerstaff

Cyclo-X Interlocken

Our unseasonably warm CX season continued this weekend for the fourth race in the Cyclo-X series.  Travel had forced me to miss the first three races, so I was glad to finally get my chance to line up, as Without Limits always puts on great events.  I ended up in the fifth row of the starting grid, by far the furthest back I'd been all season, making me think every 35+4 ranked higher than me must have shown up.  The start was re-routed away from the first bottleneck along the sidewalk, instead going up along the off-camber hillside.  While this kept the first couple hundred meters wide, the hill it went up sloped down the right, and got steeper the further left you went.  I made sure to line up as far right as I could, in case things got messy...which they did.

My streak of good starts continued, and the field parted right in front of me, giving me room to move up into the top twenty.  As we hit the first off camber running six or seven wide, somebody high up on the slope lost traction, and started a pileup that moved quickly downhill towards me. I snuck through unscathed on the back of a big lead group.  Coming up to the one tricky part of the course, I was faced with a run or ride decision into a short, but very deep mud/bog.  Given I was in traffic, I hopped off and ran, picking up a couple more spots with a good remount at the top of the bump.

I rode well and steady for the first two laps, hanging on to the top twenty.  Unfortunately, my streak of blowing up early and going backwards also continued.  I'm definitely not at my best in the heat, and I was cooked by the fourth lap.  With my legs cramping, I slipped into 35th place, a bit disappointed given how good things started.

Blue Sky Cup

I love the courses at Xilinx.  This is the first place I ever raced CX, and the site of a couple of my best results ever, so I was looking forward to lining up Sunday morning.  Some cloud cover and gusty winds kept the temps down, which made me happy after yesterday's broiler.

I didn't get my greatest start, trapped behind a bit of crowd, but I managed to move up several spots during the first lap, well into the top twenty.  The cloud cover burned off and it started getting hotter the rest of the way; despite that my legs felt great.  This wasn't a very technical course, with only a couple of moderately tricky features, which allowed me to ride about as mistake-free a race as I've ever had.  I felt strong every lap, jockeying for spots the whole race, and notching one more top twenty finish.

So lots of good things coming out of this past weekend.  Our team had a great showing, especially the ladies (as usual)!  Every weekend I've doubled up and raced both days I've had a better performance on Sunday, and I feel like I'm moving the right direction as far as my fitness and skills go.  For the first time I'm consistently competing from start to finish, racing for position with other riders, as opposed to time-trialing by myself in the back half of the pack

Frisco CX Weekend

This weekend was one that is always fun for us. The Frisco course is at the Nordic Center and generally fairly twisty with a lot of singletrack and short, punchy climbs. We always seem to forget that there is a long, paved climb at the start that kills us! It's also at a beautiful time of year in the Rockies, with the aspen trees covering the hills with gold. The one downside is that the ACA Junior Cross Camp was this weekend, so they didn't offer any Junior racing. Nick was stoic about this, since they have both a skate park and bike park in which he could spend his time. Saturday was also the first Cross Cup race of the year, which is the season long series, so we knew there would be a good turnout.

Carl's Report

Day 1--I was looking for some redemption this weekend, since the past two years I've gotten injured at this race in crashes. As expected, the field was on the large side for this year at over 40 riders (they've added a 35+/Cat 3 race this year which has reduced our field size by about a third). All the fast guys were in attendance, and the long start climb loomed. Callups were based on last year's

points, so I ended up in the 4th row. I got a pretty good start anyway, but faded toward the top of the climb to somewhere in the high 30's. I was feeling really good, though, railing the loose corners and even passing riders on the climb during the race. I probably worked my way up to about mid-20's, but unfortunately I was cooked with about a lap and a half to go. Through tired riding and concentration lapses, I lost about 7 or 8 spots, rolling across the line in 33rd. Overall, I felt great about how I had ridden for the most part, but definitely need to finish stronger.

Day 2--As expected, a much smaller field showed up on Sunday, with only about 15 guys on the line, but there was still plenty of depth. As a result, I was first row at the start. Determined to start better, I jumped at the whistle, and was elbow to elbow with the fast guys up the climb. I paid for that effort towards the top, and the field flowed past me like the tide! I jumped into the singletrack, determined to make up places, and immediately starting riding an attacking race. I was able to pick off a number of riders in my category, and finished 11th, without any late race fade this time. I feel like I really put it together for this race, I didn't lose places to any significant mistakes (other than the start climb struggles).  Next weekend is the USGP New Belgium Cup in Ft Collins, which is part of the national points series and has ranking and callup implications for Nationals, so it's coming together at the right time.

Kristal's Report

The girls I race with are so fun. We are friendly and chatty at the start of the race but when it's time to get down to business the gloves come off. Day 1—I was excited about the race. This is generally a course I look forward to. The paved climb at the start and on each lap is always a challenge (especially at 9000'). I got off the line well and fell to about 10th. The legs/lungs were feeling the burn. I felt really confident on the course and nailed all the turns. Eventually I moved my way up to 5th by staying focused and making aggressive passes. I was very happy and completely spent at the end of the race.

Day 2—At breakfast Carl showed me the Summit Daily newspaper and there I was on the front page! Great to see the Women's field in the news. Usually my legs are revved up and ready for day 2. This was not the case at the start. The whistle blew and my start was great but before I knew it I was DFL. ugh. The first half of my race can be summed up as heavy legs and lack of mental focus. I blew corners that I was nailing on Sat. and much further back in the field then I should be. Then I gave myself a stern talking to and my legs started to come around. I stared to focus on girls ahead of me and slowly make my way up. I finished 7th w/a mix of emotions…frustrated, disappointed and happy that I turned my race around.

All in all it was a fun weekend up in the mountains. Thanks for reading.

 

WP XC Super Loop

Photo: Mountain Moon PhotographySo can this count as the SECOND first race of the year?  This race was tough!  That was partly due to the fact that it was announced as an 18 mile course, but actually turned out to be just over 23 miles.  That extra 5 miles, including lots of climbing, translated to an additional 45 minutes in the saddle. From a technical standpoint, I felt like I rode well.  My new Blue FS Carbon really performed.  Having always ridden a hardtail, it was great being able to fly into rock gardens and root sections knowing I wouldn't get bucked all over the trail.  But, since our training at this point is lots of base, sustaining a fairly high intensity effort for over two hours was a challenge.  We were both shattered (and pretty dehydrated) after the race!

I rolled in 28th overall, and am currently sitting in 16th place in the series.  No specific goals for these races, other than getting in some good, hard training, so I'm generally satisfied with the results.  Of course, I'd prefer to be higher up there, but if I was flying right now, I'd be flat and burned out by December and January when it really matters!

Thanks for reading.

Carl

Hill Climb

The Hill Climb, love it or hate it, it has become the signature kick off of the Winter Park series. Starting at the base of Winter Park Ski Resort 9,080', you climb 5.2 miles on a fire road for a total of 2,062' of climbing. Not a long race but a lung/leg burner for sure! We were amazed at how much snow was still at the area. None of the other MTB trails are open yet as the resort is still trying to clear the snow. The base was actually under several feet of snow just a few weeks ago.

Kristal's report:

I knew this was going hurt but that's okay. The start is fast and uphill immediately, I was in top half of the field for the first 1/2 mile or so and then felt myself trickling toward to the back. I told myself not to worry and found a gear I could excel in and set my sights on gaining back spots. I could see a girl about 28 sec ahead of me, I thought she was in 3rd so I really wanted to catch her. Bit by bit I started gaining on her. Eventually I did catch her and then I had to put in enough time to hold her off, oof, push a little more. The next 2 girls were about 30 sec ahead and I set my sights on them. But it wasn't to be, I had nothing left. The final push is the steepest part of the race and I finished tired, a little loopy (I'm blaming the 11,000' altitude!) and happy. I took a few breaths and headed a little bit back down course to cheer on Carl.

 

Carl's report:

I woke up Sat morning not feeling great.  Wasn't sure if it was uncharacteristic pre race nerves or something more.  Got in a decent warm up, then lined up second row.  I got my typical cx racer start--jumping from the field to hold second wheel all the way up the start straight.  Given my fitness and the current stage of our training, I soon paid for the effort as riders came streaming past like the tide.  I recovered by the 1 mile mark and started picking off racers, but felt really flat for the last two miles of the race and lost about 6 spots.

Every year, it seems that I am disappointed in my first race and that humiliation serves to motivate me in training going forward.  Generally, we do some races in May, but this season kicked off with the Winter Park HC, and true to form, I'll be digging a little deeper in the intervals in coming weeks after this one!

Thanks for reading.

 

Photos: Mountain Moon Photography