So here's the thing about mountain bike racing in a place you've never been. It's nerve wracking. But just like anything in life there's pressure put on you and pressure you put on yourself. I tend to put pressure on myself and probably always will until I'm just too old to have a chance at winning. And on top of that I choose really fast team mates who put additional pressure on me. What am I thinking!
|Race#1 Heritage Park in February 2011|
All year long we've been chasing the "Gutbusters" Bill Lanzilotta and Alex Hagiano, and Team "Engine" Matt Hammond and Dave Chen. We've never beaten them. They are faster than we are and it's a fact. When they showed up we knew we were in for a long hard day. We might be ahead one hour and behind the next. The key to winning the overall as it turns out has a lot to do with showing up. Dave and Matt missed a race earlier in the year and the Gutbuster's didn't come to the last race in Alabama (a double points race). This becomes important later on in the story.
The rules. Let me see if I can sum it up for you. The key sentence in the rules is: At the end of the series if you have raced a minimum of 5 out of 6 races to qualify for the series we will then drop your worst scored race. The key point here is that the dropping of the worst score is mandatory. A team cannot decide to keep that lowest score. So I'll just let you do the math and look at the results. I say all this not because I think we shouldn't have won the overall. We earned it. We worked our tails off all year. But I have to recognize the fact that those guys ride like lightning. And it paid off with 1st place finishes in several races including Matt and Dave taking the top spot in our final race. However, they didn't show up at Tribble Mill and then had to drop their lowest finish. Hence we win by being the most consistent for 6 races. And the Gutbuster's? They just flat blew it by not showing up at the last "double points" race. So, the reality is that we are not the fastest riders...just the most consistent. Which according to Chainbuster Racing is exactly what the points system is designed to do. Reward the most consistent team or solo riders.
Oak Mountain State Park, Pelham Alabama
I was prepared for bitter cold that did not happen. When David and I arrived at the park we thought it would be much colder than it was. No wind. No frost. The sun was coming up bright in the sky. It was 39 degrees but warming up quickly. Soon after we set up camp there came the arrival or our friends Dustin Mealor, Trent Smith, and Todd Fisher (Team Spare Parts) and family. These guys were ready to have some fun. Having them there was a great relief. We were in enemy territory and needed some friends.
|Team Spare Parts encampment.|
You can see in the 2nd video that I went out way too hard. I pulled the lead group up the road and then promptly found a place to crash! This gave me an idea. Slow down a little bit since you don't know the course. Duh!
I tried to chill out and ramp back up slowly. During that process Dustin caught me. He drilled it to catch up with the lead group and soon went on by me. I stayed with him until the time came to not stay with him. That time would be when the trail became something more like a moon crater. Or maybe the "lake" side of a dam. You know the rocks they use to keep the waves from eroding. That's what we rode across for half a mile.
|One of many. But not my knee.|
|Rollers are fun.|
The first lap was over and now I had to deal with the fact that the race wasn't. The course was in a word "brutal". My mind was swirling with doubt. My legs hurt. I kept drinking and eating. By the time David made it back I was ready to take on Oak Mountain without incident. I wanted to disappoint the NASCAR fans. I wanted some revenge.
|Oak Mt. Podium|
Team Spare Parts fought valiantly and settled for 4th Place by a mere 50 seconds. They were not happy but had a great time none the less. Great job guys!
|Todd, Trent, Me|
Another good thing about being in Alabama this weekend was the look on all the Auburn fans faces as the afternoon wore on. We had a radio and listened to the Georgia Bulldogs whoop up on the War Eagles...I meant Tigers. Sorry. It was great to be a Georgia Bulldog!
This coming Saturday I'll be racing the Currahee Adventure Duathlon with David and Craig Tinsley. That should be a great story. Last year I competed with Craig and a team mate at the last minute, David Park. We raced for 5 hours and it came down to the last 3 miles. That's a story for another day but if you ask Craig to tell you about the finish make sure you have some time to kill. It was epic!
|Craig Tinsley, Me, David Park at 2010 Currahee Duathlon|