Friday morning Seamus, an old friend from New York who is staying out in Colorado with me for the next couple of weeks, and I got up packed the car and hauled off to Vail to pre-ride the course and hand out some Action Wipes. We made a B-line for registration and found the best swag bags we've ever seen at any event. A sweet T-Shirt, nalgene bottle, dog food, powdered drink mix, and various other goodies in a sweet reusable bag. Definitely all good things.
Next move was to get dressed hit up what was going to be a sweet course. To say the least this was the perfect ski resort course. The race never made you head all the way to the netherlands of Vail mountain, where I am sure there is some amazing singletrack to be had, but for racing, not the best idea if people want to watch the race. Because of that the climbs were fairly short and allowed you to experience a few short and super hard but super fun technical descents.
During the pre-ride I cased it pretty hard here trying to be fancy and ride the left line instead of the right line:
Heading up the second of two long climbs. This was the more brutal of the two, steep, rocky, with slick mud sections:
One of the corners on the descent. Leads into an awesome root drop off:
A view of the start line. This is facing the opposite direction the course goes, but it is an epic photo:
2nd of the two climbs up some singletrack:
Preride done, now time to get food and hand out action wipes.
Saturday came along and Seamus and I once again woke up early to drive back to Vail, race day was here! Showed up at Vail with plenty of time to spare. Got ready and started heading around to warm up and find a possible feed. After about 15 minutes of searching we were starting to get a little worried as prospects were looking kind of sketchy and then Dave Griebling from Rooly popped out in front of me. Dave is awesome and I can't thank him enough for not only supporting us with the best shades I have ever worn but for feeding us at Sea Otter and now Teva.
Then it was race time. Without call ups actually taking place but with a field stacked like it was a US Pro XCT event I made sure to get to the start line early enough to not be stuck at the back. Mission # 1 was accomplished with a 3rd of about 10 row start position. Unfortunatley Mission 2, get a good start, didn't quite go to plan. As I went to go the person in the row behind me decided it was a good idea to get his wheel caught on my derailleur and then cause a crash. Luckily I wasn't involved in the crash but I was not able to get going for an extra 3 or 4 seconds after the gun went off. Within a few minutes though I was off to a flying pace and feeling super good, too good in fact.
Lap 1 was 32 minutes, man was I feeling smoking. Lap 2 was 33 minutes, consistent still feeling strong and then my legs decided they were a little upset with me for forgetting my recoverite, endurolytes, and endurance aminos the day before and were going to start hurting. This made Lap 3 36 minutes and then Lap 4 37 minutes.
All in all it was not a horrible day. I finished 41st out of 43 finishers but well over 60 starters (huge field) and was only 30 minutes down on the winning time. I'll take that for my first year as a pro against guys who have been doing this for over 10 years and regularly race on the world cup circuit.
Next on tap is the US Pro XCT at Colorado Springs this weekend, should be a good weekend, look for pics of the course as I will be heading down there once or twice this week to get some training days in on the course at Cheyenne Mountain Park.