Since my father passed away four months ago, I have kept him with me by incorporating mountain bike training into my program, as he was an avid mountain biker and rode daily. With my father on my mind, I needed to test the waters, so I joined forces with my good friend and training partner Flyin’ Brian Lopes. I have been helping Brian get ready for his World Cup Eliminator races, and got the itch to line up in the dirt. I come from a mountain bike background, but having a larger body frame made it very difficult to compete at the National NORBA level with all the lightweights at altitude. So, I got a rode bike and have been racing it ever since.
I have raced my road bike all over the country, and a little bit in Europe; lining up for Tuesdays Over The Hump was as intense as it gets for me. What a well organized and professional venue! I knew who the big guns were, Gritters, OShow, and a few others. I decided to keep my eye on them and see how the race played out. I was curious to see if I could run at that pace with all the other variables I am not used to anymore.
Bam!! We started off full speed, racing for the first climb. It was intense, just like a criterium, so I knew keeping good position was key. Mistake one, not running enough pressure in my tires. I almost crashed about five times on the first lap. This was going to be a tough fight as my tires were rolling on the rims every time I pushed hard in the turns. I learned what burping the tire finally meant! I did all I could to keep the lead pack of about 5 riders in sight in the tight sections of single track. Once we got on to the dirt road sections I could open it up and catch back on, but, I knew this would not last long as the heart rate can only stay so high for so long. The group played cat and mouse a bit on the straight fast sections, and I recovered from making it back to them. Game on. We hit the dusty single track on the backside and it was full gas all the way back to the start/finish line. It was an intense feeling flying through the start finish line after lap one. We were moving.
Lap two got even more intense for me as we started hitting the lappers; another variable I had forgotten about. With all of the passing on the right, passing on the left, I kept up the speed, watched my lines, did not roll the tires; I was starting to feel the pain of mountain biking again. That’s what I love, feeling the burn and pushing through the pain.
Going into the third lap, I was still with the lead group of about five or six riders. I knew it wouldn’t last long, as I had to back down my efforts to avoid crashing, and save anything I had left for the fourth lap. My third lap was a lonely one, just trying to hammer out a descent pace and avoid getting caught by the first chase group.
Lap four was half over, and when you are by yourself you tend to slow sometimes. Well, I was slow, and there were three charging riders. Two Blackstar riders, and a Sho-Air rider caught me. They came by me on the last climb on the backside, and I had to dig deep to stay with them. I told myself I had to beat one of the three, as I was still in third place before they caught me. I did all I could through the sandy single track that was littered with lapped riders either on the ground, pushing their bike or just taking a rest, and all were having there own battles within their respected class. This is what I forgot about mountain bike racing that is so great, everyone racing against him or herself or somebody else at all times.
I followed the fourth place rider and earned the fifth spot in Expert men. It was a hard seventy minutes, and I had a blast. My wife, daughter and mom came to watch; it was a great event to hang out and see. I’ll be back, that’s for sure!