Saturday, April 26, 2008
Despite not knowing any German, the location of the train station, or where the hotel was, I arrived with little trouble. It have been laughing a little bit about that and am still kinda amazed that I made it here. The course here is pretty sketchy. There are these drops that I can only compare to dropping cliffs on skis. It is really scary looking down these 45 foot death drops and knowing that you have to go down them, especially when you have not ridden off road at all this year with the exception of the NMBS races and Sea Otter. It isn't that they are particularly hard to ride. You basically just hang on and hope that the bike is under you at the bottom, however they are more frightening than a deranged ex-girlfriend. Having ridden them all 5 times now they are getting better, but I still am relieved every time I make it down alive. Here is a sick ride, the car is pretty cool too. I got lost for an hour and rode around the streets and this cool path. Race is tomorrow and I am called to the line #182. Fantastic.
Monday, April 21, 2008
As a general rule I try to avoid talking solely about how my race went and how it played out etc. However in this case, due to great demand, I am leaving the rule. I present The Sea Otter Classic, Pro Men XC 2008 through my eyes.
I rolled out the door of my hotel and into my red mustang rental car along with Brian and Sager with about two hours until start time. After shaving some weight off of the rental's tires, we arrived at purple parking #11. After the 15 min walk to our tent, we had about an hour until start time, so I got ready quickly and headed out for my warm up. I warmed up on the Laguna Seca raceway for a little bit and then heard last call to staging. I was standing at the back of the flock of sheep, when I heard my name called. I had been chosen, unfortunately nobody believed that this skinny kid who has a shocking resemblance to Ronald McDonald was being called up. Luckily for me Shep was standing there and told everybody to let me through. Front row call up. Very Nice.
The start of the race went backwards along the raceway for about half a mile. There is very little more frightening than a group of 100 amped mountain bikers all in a big group on the road. I didn't leave the top 5, and even led up the tailwind climb out of the raceway. Unfortunately 6'2 143lbs guys don't go down hill real fast and the leaders gaped me. I spent the middle 3/4 of the race with the Israeli national champion and the Costa Rican champion. On the start of the long dirt road climb with a head wind I took a min pull and could see the lead group of 7 about 45 sec. ahead. I asked for Rotem (Israel) to pull and he did, for 2 seconds. Then I pulled for another minute and he did the same pathetic 2 second pull. I told him to help me some more and for Costa Rica to help. Rotem said that he was doing all the work and told me to work, so I said, "Fine, I'll work" and attacked. I dropped them easily and was now on my own to catch the leaders. Fortunately the wind was a big deterrent for the leaders to work hard because nobody wanted to give the others a free ride. This allowed me to catch them, however it was not without a tremendous effort and lots of pain. It took the majority of the climb to do, but I came through to start my second lap in the lead group, so it was well worth it. Ohran saw me and couldn't believe it. When I grabbed my bottle from him he looked like he was in shock. I was in shock. I looked around and knew that I was most likely going to finish top ten. I was excited, then I realized that I was with the leader and all podium spots. I looked around the group of seven thinking, "OK, who can I beat? Can I get on the box?" My answer in my head was, "Nope, no way. What are you even doing up here in the first place?"
On the first decent Shep let a gap develop and I had to sprint around him and try to get back up to the group. I hit some sand funny and almost went down and Shep caught back up to me. Then we started the single track climb. I could see up the trail a little ways and saw Sid and Decker about 5 sec ahead of me and Trebon, Miguel, and Shultz about 10. Miguel attacked and was gone. I dropped Shep and thought, "wow, I am in sixth. This is huge." At the top of the single track I caught Decker and Sid. Sid attacked and I tried to jump on his wheel. I couldn't quite do it and he stayed about 30 sec in front of me the rest of the race. I did, however, drop Decker in the process. Now I am thinking, "Oh man, I could podium! I need to catch one more person so that I have a little more room to play with." I kept hammering and eventually I saw Trebon in front of me. I thought, I can catch him. I did catch him and passed him before the neutral feed zone on course. He sat on my wheel for a while and I asked him to pull, but all I got back was, "I'm tired Mitchell". Turns out he wasn't kidding. I dropped him when the road went up again and I could see that Sid had caught Sam and they were still about 30 sec. up. I went as hard as I could to try and close the gap, but it remained the same. Half way up the final climb I looked back and saw nobody. This was the best sight I have ever seen. I now knew that I was going to finish fourth and that nobody was going to catch me. I didn't know what to think, so I just kept hammering. I saw Sam attack towards the top of the climb and leave Sid; I kept hammering. I came across the line wanting to have both arms up, but felt it would be out of place since I didn't win, so I through up one arm. (I later heard that the announcer had said that I was Shep just before I did that and they thought that I was flipping them off).
I couldn't believe it. People were running up to me congratulating me, telling me when the podium was, taking my picture, it was crazy. I was getting texts and calls from people all across the nation. It is amazing how fast news travels. I still get a big grin on my face when I think, "I was 4th at Sea Otter." Now I have to hit the books hard for two more days and then I am off to Germany for WC #2.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Trevor's dad, Blake, was kind enough to drive me from the NMBS venue to my hotel near the airport. (I had to stay at the airport because I had a 4:30 am flight in order to get back home in time for classes) The stupid and I am pretty sure high check in guy told me that there was no food within walking distance and that I was just going to have to starve. This was not an option for me seeing as how I had just finished the cross country race earlier that day and had not eaten anything. Time to bust out the GPS. I found out that there was a Pizza Hut about 1.5 miles away. I figured that would be an easy walk. I didn't realize that it went straight through a pretty sketchy part of Tempe. The way down was fine, and although my legs burned I was feeling pretty good. By the time that I got my pizza the sun had set. This set up a pretty funny situation. A skinny white kid with a large stuffed crust pizza with a TomTom GPS on top in one hand, and replying to text messages with the other, walking past homeless people and sketchy dudes sitting at bus stops asking him for money, booze, tobacco, and weed. I guess that they figured that I must either be high or drunk to walk around at that time of night. I was in constant fear of being stabbed. I made it unscathed back to my hotel room, and I must say that that was the best pizza I have ever had. I highly recommend that people walk 3 miles before enjoying a pizza. It not only helps burn the calories, but it tastes much better too. However for legal reasons I have to say that I would avoid all sketchy areas as much as possible.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Saturday I was tired. My legs felt a little worked and rightly so. I ate breakfast at the hotel, then I heard the luna girls talking about this amazing breakfast place, Flap Jacks, and I figured, eh I could eat. Ohran and I headed over to Flap Jacks to see what the noise was about, and it was amazing. They made this oven-baked pancake that was like a huge pop over(my grandma makes them). It was the best breakfast I have had in a really long time.
My dismal showing in the super gradual downhill with a headwind meant that I had a bad call up for the Short Track. This allowed me to practice moving up in the pack, and since it started on a downhill into a hike a bike, I was going to need all the cross skills I had. Running up a sandy hill in what are essentially full carbon road shoes with toe spikes, was an experience that I recommend to everybody. I had a decent start and was on Trevor's wheel. As we were running up the hill, some big guy who looked kinda like a fat white baboon stiff armed Trevor into a bush causing him to sprawl out onto his face while he was trying to get his bike away from him so that he didn't impale himself on his pedal. Despite the fact that this was quite amusing, I decided that we needed revenge on this out of control monkey. Fortunately baboons have problems with balancing on their bicycles. That combined with the help of the only tree within 500 miles, led to a nice ending to the baboons quest for victory. All in all it was a pretty good short track, top 20 in the pros and 2nd U-23.
I decided to race the Cross Country with a camel back in an attempt to avoid curling up under a tree drinking water for ten minuets after the first lap. This worked pretty well, however I still felt terrible. I felt bad all race and didn't think that I did that well, however I won (U-23) so I guess that I can't complain too much because everybody else had a longer day than me.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
I arrived at the phoenix airport a couple of nights ago with mixed feelings. My 21 overall and 2nd U-23 in Fontana gave my high hopes for a decent result, especially because Sammy J and Colin are in Venezuela for Pan Am games. However being the skinny climber that I am, the flat power no passing course that is Phoenix is just about the worst course you could design for me; and I am sure they know this.
After weaving my way through a group of skanky whores, I f
ound my bag and the exit of the terminal. Trevor picked me up in his dad's truck because his jeep died in Flagstaff on its way to Fontana. (May it rest in pieces.) I couldn't reach the members of my team that I was supposed to be staying with, but Trevor offered me a spot in his camp site. It w
as nice sleeping under the stars, however it was a little bit annoying to have to wake up every hour or so to roll onto a different ridge on the truck's bed liner to avoid serious internal bleeding. I did reach Matt the next day and I must say that I didn't even mind the four pillows trying to suffocate me because the bed was amazing.
Because this race doesn't matter for worlds selection, I am using it as preparation for the Offenburg (Germany) and Madrid world cups. Because of that, and the fact that it is 38 and raining at home, I figured that if would be a good idea to spin over to the course and ride another lap on the XC course before the super D later in the day. Well one lap turned into two and so on and so on until it was time for the race. By the end of the day I had been on my bike from 10 am until 5:30pm. Ok, I did take a hour break for lunch around 3. I may be fried for
Sundays race, but still pretty good training. Check out the new machine: