I have been racing the CCCX MTB Series since 2002 when it first started as Sea Otter Prep. I must have done 40 or more races. It as been a core part of my cycling experience. Local and Low Key, but competitive. I has been my practice to race in the Clydesdale category. I actually won a race in 2003 (the other guy was second) and took the Series that year as well (the only guy who raced all of the races was me). Since then it has been a litany of 2nd places. Always some uber-fast Clydesdale showing up. Where do they come from!
The season finale last year was one of my best competitive races ever, after training with the Team for several months. This year I had high hopes and in fact decided to move into the Sport Age Groups for more competition.
I had been progressively looking forward to this race as my training results had been improving over the last few weeks and felt good on race day. One of my problems has been not getting up enough for races, but race morning I had good balance of calm and eagerness.
I finished a strong third and have to say it was a highlight in my racing career in terms of giving my best and having things come together. The course was fast with no real climbing. The slopes we did have could be powered over which suits my style well.
Felt good at the start and was easily able to stay with the leaders and draft up the opening slopes as others blew. I couple of guys pulled away slightly and I let them go not knowing the competition. Turns out they finished one and two with second place being a minute or so ahead of me at the end. I stayed with a couple of guys and was working hard but within limits. No idea if others were behind us as my focus was up the trail.
I must say the training we do has given me great knowledge of what I can do in terms of pushing the pace. I felt I could be tactical versus just going hard. On lap two I passed the dude ahead of me and latched on the other guy. He crashed and I was able to push it right after that and never saw him again. Turns out he finished within a minute of me.
Lessons from the race:
Passing is a big deal in these races as you work through slower riders in groups ahead. You have to be aggressive and go right away versus sitting in for a rest or place to pass. These pictures show yours truly making such a move. The blue guy with the slipshod helmet was the next victim after the shot was taken. Can ya tell he is about fall victim to a pass?
I also worked hard on cresting all climbs and rises strong over the top (thanks Matt). This was HUGE in this race! The gaps I got were amazing. This has been a real revelation for me in training and now in racing. Duh!
Another contribution to success was nutrition. Did some reading on carb intake pre-race and realized I was not eating enough. At 95kg or so I need to take in a substantial amount of carbs pre-race according to racing literature. I ate as much as I could before the race within that guidance (yes I had tested this before on Saturday rides) and I am convinced I had more energy throughout the race. I also ate and drank well during the race. Even though it was 1 30' I am not about to deny this big body every calorie it can take in and that pays off the last lap.
Always great to see the Junior trippers out there. Also ran into Geoff, Tim, and Miles.