I didn't set out to try to participate in as many different kind of bicycle contests the last month but I ended up doing a pretty good job. I really enjoy the challenges competing in different kinds of events and it definitely keeps things fresh and interesting.
After the first US Cup race in Bonelli at the start of April I squeezed in a few days of altitude training in Truckee trying to adapt for the thin air at Whiskey Off-Road coming up at the end of the month. I couldn’t stay up long though because I wanted to get back down to the Bay Area for a fun gathering of NorCal folk and great road ride called the Bantam Classic.
Yuri Hauswald, GU Energy's social coordinator and accomplished bike rider, puts on this fun ride at the family farm just outside of Petaluma. A tribute to the Belgian classics with some scenic rough country roads the event also has one of the best prize purses around; an oversize bottle of Arnot-Roberts wine, a cool trophy, and a dozen farm fresh eggs.
These kinds of prizes motivate me and after getting away in a break I set a 20-sec wattage PB, 999 Watts, sprinting for the win. Most of all the Bantam Classic was a great way to get together with some friends and the community before hitting the road for some more serious racing.
Next up on the schedule was the annual bicycle gathering at Sea Otter Classic at Laguna Seca. One of the super nice things about being based in the Bay Area is this big event is just a short drive away. After discovering the Turo App I considered renting a neighbour's Porsche to have a little fun on the drive over but decided it might be a little bit challenging to fit my extra-large bicycle and gear inside. Borrowing my friend's Subaru ended up being almost better though as I could use the convenient VIP sponsored parking area provided for all Subaru drivers. The racing at Sea Otter started with the Short Track and it always tends to be a bit of a tactical affair with much of it on the Laguna Seca raceway. It is also one of the races I get to put on some of the super-fast Maxxis Maxxlites and see if I can manage to take advantage of their speed. I enjoy the tactics which we don't see much in mountain biking and although I wasn't able to repeat my victory from last year I was quite happy to return to the podium with a 3rd.
Fellow SCOTT rider Nino Schurter, whom you may have heard of, and U23 World Champion Sam Gaze slipped away early and after trying to whittle down the chase group I was able to position myself last lap to win the sprint for 3rd. The Cross-Country race didn't go quite as well and I ended up in 12th. The start climb up to the top of Luguna Seca is always brutal and I couldn’t position myself well enough which forced me to try to chase and bridge gaps most of the day.
I started feeling a little queasy after finishing but managed to finish off the day doing a few rounds of the pits. Sea Otter is one of the few opportunities to see so many sponsors, supporters, and friends which one of my favourite parts of the event. I've been going to Sea Otter since 1996 so it is a bit like a annual reunion. By the time I got back to the hotel after the race things had seriously gone sideways in my stomach. Along with half of my half of my former 3Rox team I was absolutely levelled by some food poisoning likely from a dinner we had shared a few nights earlier. Loosing all my food from the day, no dinner, and sipping water wasn't the best recovery after a tough weekend but luckily after a couple days I started to bounce back.
I was definitely concerned about recovering because the next weekend's Whiskey Off-Road was definitely one of the events circled on my calendar. It was the first of the big three race endurance series put on by Epic Rides. After checking out a few new sections on the big course the Fat Tire Crit was up first on Friday night.
It was a good chance to test my legs and see if I had bounced back. After using all my experience and skill to save some energy early on I was happy to have a bit of punch to snag 3rd place. Once again, a couple guys, Todd Wells and Sam Gaze, had slipped away early and I came out on top from the chase group. This year was one of the most competitive fields I've seen for the Whiskey 50 and I could tell right from the start it was going to be a hard day; the pace up the first climb was furious and never let up.
After the first hour I was able to bridge on a big descent to 4th place chase group which included Grotts and 3Rox teammates Keegan and Derek. I was on my limit though and after Grotts danced away on the next climb I regrouped with the 3Rox boys and settled in chasing down to Skull Valley and started the massive climb back up.
I don't think my energy stores were fully recovered though and I had to just hold on and go my own speed. I fought as best I could and had to be satisfied with 8th after an exciting sprint finish with Sonntag who caught me on the run in to the finish. It's always a really cool weekend and great to see so much support from the cycling community at these races.
The weekend was made extra special as I also got to pick up my dog Tallulah and spend a few special days with her around the race.
To complete a stretch of five weekends in a row and compete in one more discipline I jumped back on a plane and headed back out to Moab for the SCOTT Enduro Cup. My bigger travel trail bikes were up in Canada but after hearing people talk about how much pedalling this race had I figured I would just see how my SCOTT Spark 900 bike would hold up. With some slacker modern geometry and 120mm travel the Spark 900 can really cover a lot of bases. I raced my Spark 900 early on this year to 2nd place at the first Canada Cup and after throwing on a FOX Transfer dropper post and some Maxxis Minion SS tires it was ready for action in Moab.
I pushed as hard as I could on the rough Moab terrain but I learned you should always take it with a grain of salt when Enduroers say a course is "super pedally". I'd probably recommend more travel than my Spark next time but I was still happy to squeeze into the top ten with some tight time gaps. It was fun trip to challenge myself, the Spark 900, and see how hard I could push it. If I could only choose one of my wicked SCOTT bikes to have this would probably be the one.
I finally had a weekend off to train again but I'm excited to be off again this weekend to the Grand Junction Off-Road. A new event for me that I'm looking forward to racing. Until next time keep riding until the fun stops!