So UW Madison has a pretty kick-ass mountain bike team this year. And I didn't even realize it until the season is almost over...!
Ben Moore walked away with the XC title on Saturday, followed closely by Freshie Steve in 4th, Eric Lau in 6th, Dallas Fowler in 10th, and myself in 15th. The race was 95% singletrack, unlike any other mountain bike race that I have ever done. In fact, it felt less like a "race" and more like a "ride". There were some pretty bomb-diggity drops, off-camber logs, wet rocks, muddy river banks, and fun techy singletrack. Yeah, I really haven't ridden that stuff at all this year. And it showed. I walked several sections of the coruse that I'd have undoubtedly ridden last year. But that's what a season o' road will do to you...
Given the muddy conditions, I swapped tires like 3 times on Saturday trying to figure out what would be the best combo. Turns out my "Jeff Hall special" mud tires were a bit too much, and I suffered on the dry parts of the course pushing those narrow, deep knobbies. But as soon as the mud hit, I was da MAN, I tell you. Da MAN!
Saturday night was wild n' usual at the South Bend, IN Motel 6. Geo was able to demonstrate his whiskey tolerance to the rest of the team. Impressive, but glad I don't touch the suff.
Sunday's short track race was the first one I'd ever done. I figured it was just like a crit? Turns out that collegiate short track races are usually dull, but today's was exciting. The course snaked over, through, and around a BMX race track on grass, gravel, and some downright sticky mud, making for a challenging but rideable course.
Fresh, Ben, and I took the lead for UW after 3 laps of racing. That was sweet seeing the UW train blow the race apart. After a few laps I could tell Ben wasn't feelin' it, so he pulled off and rode his own pace. Then Fresh takes it away and I do all I can to stay on his wheel. After about 15 min he pulls away from me and Derek Lann catches me from behind, and we duke it out for a while. Eventually I take some bad lines through the mud section, and Derek passes me. I focus on keeping Derek in range the rest of the race, while Fresh pulls away and laps practically everyone else in the field...!!!
Going into 2 laps to go 30 min into the race, I notice that there are two guys right on my tail. I've been going hard all race long, and they've slowly made up 2 seconds per lap on me and now pressue me for the last couple minutes of racing. Unfortunately, in the end I cracked in the mud section on the last lap and couldn't keep it up to the finish, putting me in a dissapointing 5th place finish. On the bright side, it was a blast! Short track is a fun racing format, and I'll look forward to racing some more in the future.
Congrats to Ben and Fresh for the wins this weekend! I won't be racing any more collegiate mtb this season, but I know that the team will do amazing things at regionals, and Ben is going to kick some New Mexico ass at Nationals.
On the way home, a Daina had some swashbuckling-luck when his crossmax SL wheel FLEW off the top of Geo's car at 75 mph in the middle of Rockford, IL. We pulled off to the side of the road and watched the wheel, literally, roll in-and-out of traffic on BOTH sides of the highway! Somehow, 5 oncomming cars and one semi missed the wheel and it rolled harmlessly into the median and stopped. No damage. Almost more challenging than watching the wheel almost cause multiple car pileups was retreiving the thing in the middle of the IL freeway! Always there is excitement at UW race weekends. Always.
Some cross racing coming this weekend...?