The start of the race season!
This past weekend we set out for Bear Creek Resort located in Macungie, PA for my first race of the season. Bear Creek is the host of the USAC Mountain Bike Nationals again this year so this race served as a preview of the courses to be used at the national event.
Upon arriving I noticed that Reading, PA local, Neko Mulally had shown up to race. Neko races for the Trek World Racing downhill team on the world cup circuit. Neko brought along his brother Logan, Brook MacDonald, George Brannigan and Georgia native & University of Vermont student athlete, Max Morgan. All of them accomplished and fast downhill mountain bike riders.
Along with those guys were the usual cast of characters we run into along the east coast so it was great to get out and see everyone.
The Super D course was new this year and took us down the “other side” of the mountain which meant, more rocks! Last year’s course took some criticism for being too “pedaly” and more in line with the XC rider. This new course, which was laid out last year by Harlan Price, didn’t get used for the 2013 USAC Nationals due to the timing of when it was designed prior to the national event. Harlan’s course is definitely appreciated more by the downhill leaning rider. It is more technical and required less long pedaling sections than the previous year’s course.
This would be my first race of the season so I was eager to “get after it”. In my mind I had some things to evaluate, my fitness, the new bike and the new 27.5 wheel size. How would it all effect my race on this course…or would it even matter?
Prior to race day I had only ridden parts of this course twice because it hadn’t been marked yet for the race. So on race day I was eager to get some pre-rides in on the full course to see how it looked. I wound up only doing 2 pre-rides before my race run which was fine for me. What I failed to do was really break the course down and focus on how hard I would have to pedal in some sections. This wound up costing me time during my race run however, as I was nearing the finish I had some energy left in the tank.
The course turned out to be a great test of skill and stamina. It was a combination of technical sections pieced together with short climbs. On the equipment side of things, my new Bandit 27.5 performed great! I couldn’t ask for anything else in a bike, the Bandit can handle it all.
After seeing my time of 5:13 I realized that I should have broken 5 min on that course. I just wasn’t focused and ready as usual. I had a couple of hiccups along the rocky sections and rode a little conservative on the climbs. I’ll chalk it up to a learning experience for the rest of my season.
A big congratulations goes out to my coach Jon Gabor aka JonnyGMTB. Jon won beating Neko by .5sec. Pretty impressive and a testament to the old saying…”age is just a number”. I wound up 14th out of 15 in the Pro div and 29th over all out of around 75 men.
Video of me and some others coming over a small drop and turn close to the finish below. Thanks to Susan for shooting these clips!