While I’ve been busy not updating this page, there have in fact been things happening, and they have been awesome things!
First, these hooligans went on a road trip to Canada in this van:
The impetus for this trip was the Wasa Lake Triathlon in British Columbia, one of my favorite races ever. This was my third year competing at Wasa, and after getting a flat at about the halfway point of the bike last year and losing a good chunk of time trying to change it with cold, wet hands, I was hoping for some better fortunes this year. I had been a little sick the week leading up to the race, so I wasn’t necessarily expecting anything spectacular, but I always hope for the best. Here’s the race report:
I took out the swim hard, quickly moving comfortably into 3rd place, well behind Alex Martinek of Spokane and Dylan Gillespie of Bozeman. The Polson legend Matt Seeley was content to swim on my feet for the first couple hundred yards before whipping around me. I completed the rest of the swim in 4th, sticking with Matt for a little while but losing his feet at the first turn bouy. While I was a little bummed with my inability to match Matt’s pace in the water, my swim was much better than it has been in the past, and improvement is always good.
Which brings me to the bike…
After cruising through T1 (I chose to forego the wetsuit strippers and stick with my well-practiced methods) I gave it my best effort to try and settle into a strong pace on the bike. When I tried to find the gear for my standard Olympic distance pace, though, the power just wasn’t there. I finished the bike in 1:02:32, over three minutes slower than my split from two years ago on the same course. By the end of the bike, I had moved into 8th place overall. I am hoping the lack of power was a consequence of being a little under the weather, but time will tell.
After busting through T2, I was hoping for a second wind on the run. I was able to tick off the first two miles smoothly at 5:55 each, just the pace I was hoping to be able to hold through the 10k. I had passed one person to move into 7th place, but there was a huge gap to 6th, and an even bigger gap behind me, so it was looking like 7th was right where I would end up. Without much motivation to keep it going, my pace slowed. I held on through the rest of the run, keeping my 7th place spot but recording my slowest run split on the course.
Final time: 2:06:42. Not stellar, but I’ll take it. Dylan opened up a big gap on the bike to secure the win, and Matt pulled through for 2nd. Ian biked and ran his way into 4th place after a bit of a deficit from the swim.
In the women’s race, Montanans had a great showing as well. Amanda Hunter from Billings took 4th, Erin Spitler from Whitefish (our other camping buddy) was 5th, and Erika pulled off a 7th place finish.
As always, the trip was 100% worth it. Racers get to hear commentary from the legendary Steve King all day during the race, the post-race food is the best in the business, and the scenery on the course is hard to beat.
This weekend I changed proverbial and literal gears to attact the Missoula XC mountain bike race. The race is part of the US Pro XCT series and it is awesome to have such a high level of competition come to town every year.
I recently procured a new dirt racing steed, an Orbea Oiz M30. Excited to put it to the test, I lined up on Saturday morning among the Cat 2 field for the first mountain bike race of my life. We would be racing three laps, consisting essentially of a big climb followed by a technical (at least for me) descent.
The field took off fast, and I immediately found myself in the middle of the mix, somewhere around 10th place or so. There is a bit of (relatively) gradual climbing before the first steep section, and I knew I had a fair number of passing opportunities before we would hit a long singletrack section, so I sat in somewhat patiently for the first part of the climb.
By the time we hit the first section of singletrack, I had moved my way into third place behind Bill Knudsen and Kory Burgess. I plugged away through the rest of the climb, holding my position and trying to put a little time into the main part of the field before we began the main descent.
Right when the trail effectively turned downhill, by the famous “A-Line” (a jump that the pro racers have the choice of going over to save some time, but not open for our race), Kory slid out on a loose corner and went down. I was following close on his wheel, but managed to get around without suffering any collateral damage. He was able to get back on his bike pretty quickly and stay within striking distance.
I rode the rest of the descent in second place, with Ben Haggett, complete with button-up shirt in true Montana style, hot on my heels after he passed Kory. Ben crushed the climb on the second lap and got by me about halfway up. Kory and another rider were in hot pursuit, and the four of us crested the top of the climb in essentially a pack.
On the second descent, Ben started to open it up. I made it a goal to keep him in striking distance in case I found the gear to close the gap on the third lap climb. By concentrating my energy ahead instead of behind, I opened up a small gap on the two riders behind me. Going into the third lap, I was solidly in third, and could tell Ben was hurting. I was gaining very slowly as we started to head uphill, but I knew it wasn’t going to be enough. I tried to stand on the pedals and push the pace, and my legs weren’t too excited about the idea. Since I knew Ben could out-descend me, I then began to concentrate my energy behind me, trying to open up as much of a gap as I could to hold my podium spot. I did what I felt I could, and made it to the top very solidly established in my position. All I needed was a clean descent, so I made my way down as smoothly as I could, concentrating on form and fluidity. By the time I got to the bottom I was about a minute behind the leader and about 15-20 seconds out of second place. It was a gap that couldn’t be made up in a sprint finish, but I gave it what I could to get across the line as quickly as possible.
The next time I will race dirt will be July 25th at the Lake Como Triathlon. While I am looking forward to a somewhat less technical course, I am feeling much more confident these days with my skills on dirt. It’s going to be exciting to see how it goes!
Yikes! Look at the time! Well, it’s about time to sign off for now, but stay tuned for a Pacific Crest Long Course Tri race report after next weekend, and maybe some pictures from Ironman Coeur d’Alene!