Pro XCT #1 In the Books! Silver Medal, But Drew First Blood.
The hill country of Texas was the backdrop to an awesome battle that had some of the world’s best mountain bikers torching it full-blast – many for the first time this season. With every bit of ammo they had, the men and women fought it out on the 6-kilometer technical corral strewn marbled course. Rocks were flying, sand and dust swirled, as riders put in maximum efforts in the sweaty dogfight.
As I was warming up, news came over the radio that my teammate Pua was with the medics and had broken something. I cringed at the thought, tuning this out and racing a smooth strong race took all my concentration.
As is the case for the first race of the season, none of us North Americans had a clue how much we really had in the tank – myself included. This however did not stop me from spending every match in the book and putting attacks down in an effort to stretch the field.
Zanstra and Kabush went.
Wells dug deep.
We chopped each other through turns and it got aggressive out there. However, the course’s short punchy climbs and brief straightaways kept the pack together. I did have a good answer to most of the heat put on by Zanstra, Kabush and Wells, but it was Aussie Dan McConnell finishing off his summer who had just a little more kick than I. I lead the KOM and was on the front feeling strong most of the race.
It wasn’t until a harsh attack with two-to-go that had us on full pace. Kabush was railing the turns, McConnell was in tow, and so was Wells. I heard some commotion in the back there. A wreck – I think – may have held him up a little? Now it was just we three: Kabush and me with McConnell on the attack! Full speed, but my lines allowed me to roll up on him.
I did put a surprise few attacks on the technical section but the rock slab line only proved to put me into the lead for the sprint for which I had no practice since last season.
Alas, a perfect approach to the finale except my legs had one-less match than required to best a world-class rider in summer fitness.
A very good race!
About as fit and sharp as I wanted to be with twenty days left of winter! So I’m excited about the coming races. My teammate Alex Grant too was on-point for a snow bird – rocking the top-ten! I think his season will be his best yet, given this first race was a mere sprint.
After the race, we had a little ice cream party with M&M’s cookies and treats to celebrate the weekend and to keep the mojo going post-race. A drink and some quality hanging out, watching bad YouTube videos that Alex found and voila: laughs and good times! It was a memorable weekend that had many highlights like the 1,600-acre ranch with a mountain top castle that was our home for the week. There’s nothing like an endless pool that looks out over an entire county!
There was even a grotto; a blue lagoon a couple miles away on the property that had an outdoor hot tub built next to it. SHO-AIR is all about pimpin’ it out.
All in all, I’m very happy with my strong effort and form for this early and with having a great run to hold the torch for the team. I wish Pua a speedy recovery from her fractured fibula. I think by the time Sea Otter rolls around, we will all be back in full attendance with Max back on his game. Sometimes a little rest does a body good, so take it when you got it, be mellow when you don’t.
Thanks to the SHO-AIR/Cannondale staff Ty, John, Paul, and Jordi for keeping the Scalpel sharp, the logistics smooth, and the weekend fun!
[Recap, video interviews, and links to photo galleries from the event are available here. – Editor]