Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mountain Bike Racing version 2013 Is Underway!

The 2013 mountain bike season began with the WVMBA series opener at Mountwood S.P. in Waverly, WV.  Without many training miles and fewer mountain bike miles under the belt, I headed out Rt. 50 to gain some early race season fitness and try out my new mountain bike, a Cannondale Scalpel 29er from Pathfinder bike shop.  What better way to do this than a 20 mile trail ride at race pace. 

Everyone in the expert field was amped up to begin their race season as well.  Once the race started a near pile-up occurred in the first turn...still on the asphalt.  The first few miles saw a lot of elbows-out racing, despite being on gravel double-track.  After that the pack of racers stretched out and the race became more against the narrow, off-camber, tight switch-backed course than it was against the other racers.

Fellow Dynamic Physical Therapy p/b Pathfinder teammate, Derek Clarke, was pulled up along a singletrack section five miles into the race holding his new Cannondale Flash with a taco'd front wheel after a spill.  This was obviously not the return to mountain bike racing that he had expected.

My race was relatively uneventful, but no less fun.  My finish was not a podium spot.  In fact, it was the same finish (12th) in the Expert-Vet class as in 2012, with less pre-race fitness, and less fatigue and soreness thanks to the full-suspension 29er rig.  

Mountwood finish...finally!

One week later, the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team p/b Pathfinder would be represented by myself and Derek at the Big Bear Classic in Hazelton, WV.   Once again, all of the excitement of the race would happen in the first mile.  A pile-up racers due to a bottle-neck from double-track to a rocky uphill singletrack section would force me and Derek, as well as a few others, off of the trail for a little mountain bike bushwhacking to avoid the congestion and gain a few spots on the Expert field. 

Coursing through some of the most amazing and technical singletrack in this region, the race took us through the root-covered Beaver Trail, the rocky Crack Trail, Pine Forest Trail, and the newly cut trail with more 3-4ft drops than you can count, Gene Vance Trail, to honor the memory of a local mountain biker and fallen Special Forces Guardsman.  This race had it all!

I completed the race with a satisfying 11th place finish, much better than expected after spending the day prior trying to sleep off a week-long cold--and with much less fatigue and soreness than I would have on my old hard-tail 29er.   Derek would suffer another unfortunate fate by losing a pedal in the first half of the race.  However, he would get it fixed and finish.

Two races in the books...the Scalpel is
looking forward to some ProGold lovin'

The month of May looks to be the busiest month of racing yet, with three consecutive weeks of multi-lap relay mountain bike races (12hrs of Lodi/6hrs of Brady Run, 6hrs of Arrowhead, and the 9hrs of Cranky Monkey), the much anticipated opening of the ABRA mountain bike series (The Wisp XC Challenge) on May 11th, and the grueling Tour of Tucker County Road Race, another fine ABRA event, on May 26th. 

A big  to thank all of the sponsors that are making the 2013 season happen for us: