Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Roll With The Changes

On May 20th, I competed in my first ever mountain bike race, the Wisp XC Challenge, it made me rethink all my preconceived notions that XC mountain biking was riding on smooth flowing dirt paths, it was very technical riding, and it sure was a challenge.  I ended up doing pretty well, winning the Juniors category by default, but also recording the best time in the entire beginner class.

I went into the race expecting an easy flowing course, it was an XC race after all, but after ‘warming up’  (by crashing twice) on the prologue section, I was pretty sure I’d gotten in above my head.  The trails were so rocky and uneven, and given my limited scope of MTB experience, I don’t even have anything to compare them to.   As we lined up at the beginning, I was glad I was the only junior, ‘this way’, I thought, ‘I wont be able to embarrass myself too badly.’
Shortly before finishing my first mountain bike race.

I surprised myself though.  I managed to hold on to Marco’s wheel through the prologue, and thankfully, the trails got much less technical after we rode deeper into the forest.  My confidence started to grow, and I then passed Marco, and soon after another; Mike, but not long afterwards, I crashed on a creek crossing, and both Marco and Mike regained their positions in front of me.   Around this point, I realized that JR didn’t actually design the course with the sole intention of killing me, and I began to enjoy the race.

We descended on some nice flowing fire roads, and then road on some less technical single track, my confidence was beginning to build again, and when we hit the first big climb, I took off. I passed everyone who had passed me in the beginning of the race, and then I passed some of the people who left with the sport class.  My road fitness was really starting to pay off, and I was having fun.  Right before the finish, I caught up to Sean Hilty, we were both pretty exhausted, “You racing juniors, or beginners?”  he asked me, I replied that I was racing juniors, he seemed relieved that he didn’t have to chase me.

After the race, I crashed once more while trying to show off, bringing my total number of crashes to four.

Meanwhile on the road side of things...

Taking the new CAAD 10 for a spin up my driveway.
For as long as I’ve been riding, I’ve had the same road bike, a heavy, battleship gray behemoth from a major online vendor.  I’ve had kind of a love-hate relationship with this bike since I’ve been racing it, I liked certain things about it, namely the durability that comes with having a ~25 pound road bike, but I hated other things about it, namely the huge amount of weight I had to pedal up every climb.

The solution, a new bike, from our wonderful sponsor, Pathfinder of West Virginia! I am absolutely ecstatic about my new Cannondale CAAD 10.  I cannot find a single fault with this bike, I think the two biggest improvements over my old bike are the weight; a scant 17.4lbs in size 58, and the brakes have stopping power rivaling the disks on my Raleigh Furly (also available from Pathfinder).

Prior to this bike, I’d always disliked riding 700x23 tires, they simply rode too harsh, but the CAAD 10, with stock 700x23 tires rides much smoother than my old bike with 700x25‘s!  I can’t wait until I get my new Kountach tires from our wonderful sponsor Kenda, with those it will ride smoother still.

This Sunday, I’ll compete in my first road race with my new Cannondale, The Fort Classic.

 Until next time,
 Jonathan