Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Race Report: Velirium Quebec Cup

Sandi & I made the trip up north of the boarder for the Velirium Bike Festival and UCI World Cup at Mount Saint Anne over the past weekend. Having heard that this is a technical course, my expectations were high. When we arrived, it was just finishing up w/ a good rain, and we were about to find out how wet things were w/ a pre-ride around the course on Thursday. It was greasy right from the start, as we made our way around, but I found my groove right away and was cleaning all of the super technical descents and climbs. The track had no substantial climbs in it, they all were short and steep. A top the 'Marmot Switchbacks' we hit was best equated to soupy-peanutbutter mud, I mean thick and heavy. With the bikes on the shoulders, we ran that section to the next down hill, which started off with some gravel, but quickly detoriated back in to the thick heavy mud through some steep twisting, switchback that dropped out onto a bridge and back to the base area. The next climb was fortunately on a gravel/ rock double-track up, that occasionally had a stream on it. Then it was back into the woods for some more twisting, slick singletrack. All in all, the course was nearly 5km, had lots of roots and rocks, and was right up my alley being very technical.

The next morning as we showed up for my race, we learned it had rained hard the night before, which was music to my ears. I wasn't just looking forward to racing, I was looking forward to riding this sick course. Dusty Labarr was there, but otped out of running his single speed. While this race is listed on the Master World Cup, it is actually part of the Quebec Cup, so the top 10 got call ups, and then the rest of us filed in to the start. I lined up behind the points leader Elvis riding for Xpreso. From the start, the pace was fast, and to thin things out we bypassed the first technical section and went straight up the Marmot climb. I was in the lead briefly before Elvis took over. I saw Dusty a little ways back, but looking good inside the top 10. It near the top we grabbed some frametubes, dashing through the ankle to shin deep mud to the next downhill before remounting. Then we hit the fun stuff. With mud flying everywhere, nearly thirty or so of us Masters went plowing down the descent. It was all you could do to stay up right. Then it was out over the bridge and down around onto the 'longest' climb of the day. By now I was thrid, still in contact with the leader. Back around through the rest of the course, we came through the start finish, and out for our 2nd of 5 laps. This time we hit the other super rocky-technical section, enjoying the course in all of its flavors. Then on the second time up the Marmot climb, Elvis went off the front. Running a 34x18, it was all I could do on the climbs to keep the cranks turning, and eventually opted to run this climb the rest of the race. Now in 5th, I watched Elvis disappear.

The top 5 changed positions all the time, and then on the third lap, I though we had caught and passed Elvis, with three of us going off the front. Two of us lifted the pace through km4 in the tight woods, dropping the other rider, and it was down to 2 Stephan and I. Stephan then pulled away through the start area, and I could not go with, and he stayed out until about midway into the final lap, where I rolled back up to him on the longest climb, and jumped past him. I hammered out the climb, putting some big distance between us. Pushing hard, I came rolling around the final bend into the finish chute, and started to celebrate what I thought was a win. It was awesome, such a great feeling to have endured a great battle with some great riders, on a great course. But as I cooled down and spoke with other riders, I learned we do not catch Elvis, he finished just a minute up from me, it was a teammate of his the we had passed. Still I was estactic with my performance and still enjoyed very much my result.

My IF single speed drew a lot of attention as people hovered around it in the finish area, being that I was the only one on one. Riders asked lots of questions and were checking it out very intensely. It worked awesome in the race, the brakes were always there even in the thick heavy mud, the ride was smooth thanks to my ti frame and FOX 80x fork, and my new Prototype Piranhas were hooking up awesomely.

Big thanks to Sandi for the feed and all of my sponsors for the support!

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