Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2013 Sea Otter Classic Racing Report

The Sea Otter Classic, a "must" for any cyclist.  Even if you don't race, there's a ton going on and it's a blast of a weekend.  Outside of the Prairie City Race Series this was my first race back in 2006 where I raced in the "Sport Clydesdale" category for the XC race.
Yep, that's me.  It took me 2 hours to finish the old 20 mile course which was faster/easier than the new course.  I finished 13th in Sport Clydes... and was wiped!

Seven years later...

On Friday I lined up for the Pro Short Track race in a world class field 75 riders strong.  The course was different than previous years, starting on the Laguna Seca track and winding around in the expo area.  I liked it better than the old course on the hillside and it was a lot better for spectating.  I snaked my way up towards the front as riders were being called to the line and anticipated the mad rush rollup to find myself in about row 2 1/2 behind Ryan Trebon.  Sweet!  I would be on the inside for the first 180 degree corner.  When the gun went off, I had a bit of trouble clipping in but didn't loose much ground... I stayed on the inside and skidded into the cluster, tangling bars and barely making it clear of the barrier before sprinting to the next corner.  This was the "cattle chute" choke point corner for the course right at the base of the only climb on the course.  I tried to funnel in on the right side but as I went through the gap another rider turned into me and I was pinched between him and the barrier.  I had to unclip and awkwardly scoot through before remounting and heading up the climb.
Right in front of tons of photog's and heckling spectators.  It was a mess and I lost a bunch of spots.  But I finally pulled back in on the upper plateau as we hammered over in front of some grandstands before looping back down and across the worst part of the course, the gravel pit.  Yeah, they routed us through the gravel trap designed to stop race cars... by sinking.  Turns out bikes sink pretty easily too and trying to ride through there was energy sapping!  Your only chance was to follow an existing groove and hope it didn't abruptly end in a deep pile.  On the first lap I made it about 1/2 way and had to run.  But running was just about as fast and used less energy.  So as soon as I remounted I was able to pass by a few of the riders who rode it.  The field was strung out and mostly single file as the course wound its way through the venue with about six more 180 degree turns, some 'S' turns, a few rolling mounds of dirt and about an 8 foot rock garden.  I just set my sights on the next guy, whoever that was, and always tried to out accelerate him coming out of a corner or out brake him going into one.  I was moving forward and after a few laps was settled in with a group of about five or six and we seemed to see-saw a bit and mainly try not to wash out in the loose corners.
This short track was longer than the others I've done this year at 20 minutes plus three laps.  I was happy to have survived past the 15 minute mark as I could see a lot of riders had already been pulled.  I could see that the leaders were way ahead, but nowhere near close to catching us before our time was up so when I started a lap about 18 minutes in I sat up a bit more on the straights to recover and didn't pass everywhere I could.  I was planning on really hammering the last three laps and trying to bridge up to the next chase group on the next lap.  I should have just kept the power down because when I came around the final turn of that lap the USAC official was waving us to the side.  What?!?!  I was pissed!  They were pulling WAY too early!  I was in the last group to get pulled and finished 46th.  So then I loaded up with water, food, and set off for a pre-ride of the XC course.  It was a beautiful, warm day and it felt good to cruise for a couple hours.
Saturday's weather forecast called for a high of 64 degrees.  They were wrong!  It was pretty darn toasty by 11am when I started to warm up for the 12pm race.  I made sure to get in a nice long warmup in the hopes that maybe I'd feel decent in the first hour of the race, since we'd only be doing one lap and there wouldn't be much time.  I seemed to feel ok and recovered from Friday but you never really know until the gun goes off.  As I waited in the staging area listening to the callups, I think they named off about 20 riders before they stopped saying former or current world champion or national champion of some discipline!  This was an incredibly stacked field of well over 100!!  Once we rolled up I was on the right side again and about mid pack.  But start line position isn't as critical here since we roll around the asphalt raceway for about a mile before hitting the dirt.  Riding in a group of 100+ knobby tire bikes spinning around the track is one of the coolest sounds... but being IN that group also one of the scariest things I do all year!
Riding in a huge MTB peloton with guys who are all nervous, twitchy, and not used to being smooth and predictable in close proximity at high speed is nerve wracking at least to me.  And sure enough there was a pile up less than 100 yards into the race, thankfully on the left side.  I heard it and looked over to see the Specialized rider with his face on the pavement.
I think that spooked me a little because I just wanted to stay out of trouble and not be caught up in something stupid before we even really start the race!  I hung towards the back but got trapped in the middle.  Someone hit a cone in one corner which was flipping up in the middle of the group and right in front of me, I checked up and thankfully didn't loose contact with the draft.  As we started the climb up the hill towards the dirt, I could see that my teammate Ryan had made his way around the right side towards the front and was right where I wanted to be.  But I just couldn't get there before the exit of the track, which was yet another "cattle chute" cluster where those of us in the back had to dismount to get through and hope someone's pedal doesn't break a spoke, bend a rotor, or rip off a derailleur!  Jason Moeschler came leaping over the concrete wall and tires, passing probably 15 guys in the process... nice line Jason!

Finally I was on the dirt and the race could start!  I had lost a ton of track position.  Pissed and motivated... I sprinted up the first dirt road climb and got my passing underway.  The first downhill is a wide open stretch called "40mph DH" and the only clean line is to the far left.  The rest is full of ditches and cross ruts.  I had planned for this in advance though and put my water bottle in my jersey pocket so I wouldn't risk loosing it if I needed to slam through some of those ruts... which I did... passing another handful before rocketing the Highball up the next climb and passing some more!  This was the best I've felt all year in the first hour of a race and I was making the most of it!  I started to think I was finally gain some ground when I passed Adam Craig, Carl Decker, and some others I recognized.  After a few more rollers on the ridge line I caught up with my teammate Ryan in a group of about 4 guys.  He was coasting around a corner and a downhill so I yelled at him, "PEDAL!! We have to go now!!"  I went around and took off giving it max effort and drifting the gravel corners before coming to "the wall."  This steep but short climb was really loose this year, I made it about half way up before slipping and running the rest which wasn't any slower.  One more descent after that where I passed a couple more before hitting the flowy singletrack.  I fell in line behind Macky Franklin and Ryan Trebon and the pace was decent but not pushing it.  It was nice to be in a group that could actually ride and not feel like I was actually being too held up.  I recovered a bit here before we started up the next climb.  About half way up, Trebon pulled over for us and we motored by.  Then we passed another Kenda/Felt rider off to the side.  I guess they redlined a bit too early?  Or the maybe heat was getting to them.

Up on top of the next ridge Decker went by and I stuck on his wheel.  We see-sawed a bit and on one downhill corner I took the inside line to pass and smacked a rock, rim strike to both wheels!  I held my breath as I drifted to the outside, making the pass.  "That didn't sound good!" I said to Carl... and thankfully no damage was done to the tires.  I didn't even worry about the ENVE rims... they were fine.  We caught up to a good sized group as we entered some of the rutted and techy sections.  The dust was very bad and I couldn't see much, but it was nice to be able to trust the riders around me to pick good lines.  We made it through everything clean and eventually we were dumped back down to flat fire road for a transfer over to the next singletrack climb.

Just before that turn, Decker passed most of that group and I should have followed.  I figured we'd been going at a decent pace and these guys would motor up this climb too.  They didn't.  It's one of the longer steep climbs on the course and they just settled in to spin up.  It was tight and not much room to pass.  It could be done but would take a lot of effort.  Jason Sager (Team Jamis) went by really huffing but I elected to stay where I was and not blow up trying to make a few passes that might not stick.  I knew there were plenty of opportunities later.  Once we got to the ridge I made my way to the front of this pack but over the next few ridge line climbs we see-sawed.  I was giving it everything I had though and we were still catching and passing riders here and there.  I refueled with a Clif Shot and took down some more water before heading down the new trail for this years' course.  It was a smooth trail, but full of abrupt and tight turns which really broke the flow.  And unfortunately I was stuck behind a rider who was on the brakes a bit more than I wanted and he wasn't bursting out of the corners.  Nowhere to pass though and I was stuck to watch a couple riders pull away.

We popped out of the trees and down the road to the feed zone where I took down some more water before heading up the next ridge for some more good climbing.  I felt good on the steep stuff and caught up to team Giant rider Josh Carlson before hitting the gradual road descent.  I took the pull down to the bottom and as I turned to climb up the "goat trail" singletrack Josh complimented my strong pull.  I wanted to be in front for the goat trail climb.  I don't know what it is but I really like climbing this trail and always feel strong here.  It's mostly a steady climb with a few steep pitches, so you're alternating between standing and sitting, and it just has flow.
We caught and passed Macky and another rider before the trail widened up a little on some steeper climbs.  I needed a little break and Josh went by.  We passed Russ Finsterwald (Treck Factory Racing) who looked like he'd cracked... jersey open and sitting up.  I was maxed out too but could keep going.  With only the Skyline ridge climbs to go, I popped an Espresso Clif Shot hoping for one final jolt to the finish.

Josh, Macky and myself set out to try and catch a few more before all the climbing was done.  We worked together a little but we were all pretty gassed.
We still managed to pass a few and Macky got away from us both with two climbs to go.  And I had dropped back from Josh just a bit before hitting the last singletrack downhill as we got back to Laguna Seca where I caught back up to him and a Scott / 3 Rox rider Cameron Jette.

We powered up the last sandy climb to the track and hammered down the last 1/4 mile of pavement to the finish.  I locked out the CTD lever on my fork and gave it everything I had left.  I passed Cameron but couldn't get by Josh before we crossed the line.
I finished 36th, about seven minutes back from the winner Miguel Martinez (ITA) who was the Sydney Olympic gold medalist and former world Champion.  I'm really happy with my race and it was really cool to be up there with some "big names" in racing... and beating some.  And I'm always happy to come racing back to my awesome wife cheering me on at the finish line!
But as I was spinning around to cool down, a couple other racers asked me, "What happened on that downhill?!"  "Uhhh... what downhill? I didn't crash."  Turns out they didn't know there was another rider that same green helmet and kit out there.  So they thought it was me who'd crashed hard on the first blind rutted downhill.  After about ten minutes we were getting a little worried and riders started to trickle in slower and slower.  I went over and checked with the medical guys but they didn't have any reports of Ryan needing assistance.  Finally about 20 minutes after I finished, Ryan came rolling in, just a wee bit dirty!
Turns out he'd crashed so hard it cracked his helmet and he was knocked out!!  He didn't think he was out for long, and got going again but still felt out of it and stopped at a course medic station.  They checked him out and determined he was ok to continue so he went on to finish!  We made him go get checked out again, because he seemed a little excited about having knocked himself out :-).  But he was all good, at least physically.

Another cool thing about Sea Otter is that there is racing of all different types and it brings everyone together who loves bikes.  And for our team it meant we were finally all in one spot!
Marshall was there to watch us finish and we'd be there to cheer him on for his DH race on Sunday... in the one-of-a-kind white team skin suit!

Quite the different experience from my first 'Otter back in '06 eh?  It's amazing how much mountain biking has changed my life.

Monday, April 15, 2013

US Cup Triple Crown Finals / Santa Ynez Valley Classic

Last week three new carbon 29ers were brought into the world... just in time for the final round of the US Cup Triple Crown at Santa Ynez (actually... Los Olivos, CA) where each would get their very own race!  Teammate Ryan Chandler also made it down for each of the three races... aiming to get more black and green on the podium.

First up was short track on the brand new Highball.  The course is fast and flat, starting off with some long singletrack into a headwind.
We'd soon make a u-turn and head up a short climb to a plateau and make our way back on some more singletrack, bust through a couple 'S' turns and head down into a banked turn before looping back around to do it all over again.
The group all stayed together because of that headwind and I sat 3rd or 4th wheel most of the time until the later half where Ryan and I would be 1-2.  At this point I really started thinking... how can we work together?  I guess we should have discussed this before hand but we've never had this happen before!  And we've never raced road so we had no idea about tactics.  Mountain bike races rarely have situations where you can work together.  So I sat in behind Ryan... thinking... when should I go? I feel good... but is it worth expending the effort just to get caught again after we turn into the wind?  The laps ticked by and I did nothing, and neither did anyone else.  With two laps to go I thought there were three, so I was waiting to try something on the next lap.  But then we came around with the one to go signal... oops!  Ok, well I figured I'd attack on the climb.  The pace picked up right before the corner at the climb and Cody Kaiser went with one other guy as we got there.  Just as we entered the corner I was getting ready to go when another rider cut in front of me and then slowed down as we climbed right when the front three attacked.  AHHH!!!  A gap opened and I tried to sprint around this guy, there wasn't much room but I pushed by and tried to bridge back up.  They were haulin' and I gave it all I had and caught back up by the time we hit the turns and the final drop down to the corner.  But that effort left me with nothing for the final sprint and I came in 4th.  Ryan ended up getting edged out by Cody in a final sprint to the line... but Ryan did awesome for his first short track race!
Next up... Super D just a few hours later and it was the maiden voyage for my new Tallboy LTc.  In my preriding I dialed in the Fox Float 140 CTD fork, Float CTD Boost Valve rear shock and D.O.S.S. dropper post to my liking.  So much adjust-ability and fine tuning options!  I'll probably be fiddling with it all for a while but I seemed to get it pretty dialed in by my start time.  The Super D course was SUPER climb-y... and my Tallboy c would probably have been a better choice since I didn't need much travel.  I just wanted to ride the LTc because it's so fun!  And it pedals pretty darn well anyways!  The course started off on the top of the ridge, with a small drop about 20 feet from the start line.  My first goal was to get clipped in before that!  Check mark!  Next were two more log drops I got to pedal into with some good speed and just soar... WEEE!!!  That fun ended way too quickly and after only about 10 seconds into the run the first climb up the next ridge started and it was time to feel the burn and try to chase down Cody who started 30 seconds prior.  Once I finally got to descend again, I railed the first banked turn into a hip jump... sweet!  I couple more banked turns and then a loose off camber led into a traverse over to I high speed trail along a creek bed where I could really open it up to about 30mph even though it was barely downhill.  It was smooth and had banked corners and rollers to pump off of before it eventually flattened out and turned uphill again.  The gap to Cody seemed to be stagnant so I kept pushing.  The next climb was a doosey and would take about two minutes to complete before finally getting to turn down again.  I caught a female racer in a bad spot, going around a knoll where the trail fell away.  She pulled to the inside slightly and I went outside on the loose edge of the trail.  I fell off the side a bit and had to unclip for balance but made it back on to the trail fairly quickly.  Right after that I hit one of the small doubles with speed, trying to make up the time I felt I lost and the crosswind just about took my wheels out from under me but thankfully I hit the dirt again before I got too sideways!  I absorbed the next big jump on the course to keep the pedals turning (and because I'm a penguin) and hammered home the last couple sections to the finish.
I felt pretty good about my run but the gap to Cody didn't really seem to close, so I wasn't sure about my placing.  Ryan would come down a few minutes later... also feeling good with his run on his Tallboy but also unsure of his placing.  While waiting for results I posed with some adoring fans... MORE COWBELL!!!
 But they were unimpressed by my wheelie skills... Moo...
After a while results were finally posted... Ryan 1st, me 2nd!  YEAH!!! Team Santa Cruz / Fox 1-2!!!  We were separated by just 1.5 seconds over the 10 minute course.  Was that the difference between the Tallboy c and the Tallboy LTc for all those climbs?  Hard to say... but pretty cool!
After the podium celebration Jen and I headed down to the town of Buellton for some dinner with my parents as well.  The first place we went was super busy so we went to our next choice.  Once we finally got seated I was starving and thankfully food came quick... ahhh much better!  After eating all I could we checked into our motel to relax.  I'd say fitting XL 29ers into a small motel room, such that you don't impale yourself on a handlebar or chainring in the middle of the night is a skill...
Sunday morning was the final race of the weekend and I'd be on my Tallboy c... ready to rock!  Or was I?
Multi-time Aussie National Champ Sid Taberlay, probably in the country for Sea Otter (next weekend) rolled up to the line late and he suddenly became the guy everyone would be watching.  We set off at 11am under beautiful weather for two laps of the 12.5 mile course, and Ryan jumped out front right at the start.
The first part of the XC course was the same as the Short Track, so I fell in line, about 8th place, until Sid went by just after the climb so I followed.

I felt like I was barely hanging on even though I was working as hard as I could.  It just didn't feel right.  I looked down and my heart rate was only at 160.  What's the deal!?  I had warmed up for about 45 minutes, but since I had my GPS off to save battery and couldn't see my heart rate, did I not warm up hard enough?  Regardless... I just hung on as we climbed up the first set of switchbacks to the top... and the leaders started to pull away.  I had nothing.  It felt like I had already been riding for three hours or so.  The legs were just flat and I had no power for the climbs, or really to push it period.  So I changed my focus just a little and really tried to maximize the speed I could generate on the downhills and flat pedaling sections where the Tallboy is king.  About half way through the first lap I was in 5th with 6th place right on my wheel and I pulled him through the rest of the lap.
I could see Ryan and Cody Kaiser about 30 seconds to a minute ahead but I just couldn't get there and it was so frustrating!  I was passed by my "trailer" going up the first big climb of the second lap and I still had no power to stay on his wheel.  I just hung on and survived the rest of the lap, trying not to get the wheels blown out from under me in the cross wind if I caught air, and trying to make clean passes on the Cat 1/2 traffic we were catching.  As I was cruising into the venue area to finish up the final lap, I heard a spectator yell "GET 'EM CHUCK!!!" to someone behind me... I looked to see a grimacing face sprinting towards me with about 200 yards and one corner to go.  I had to at least try to protect my position so I pulled out whatever power I had left and gave 'er... protecting the inside on the final corner.  He was right there now, we turned, I stayed left to protect the inside on the corner exit.  The finish shoot was on the right and I made my way, sprinting, to the right as he was slowly coming up on my right and slowly gaining.  The finish shoot came and I was able to hold him off for 6th place.  Afterwards I congratulated Ryan on his 4th place finish and we debriefed the race.
Looking back feel like I know what happened and the mistake I made.  And it's as simple as not eating enough, soon enough, after ending the days riding on Saturday.  It left me in a fatigued state (my average heart rate for the race was 147!) and I know better... which is so frustrating.  So then I kicked back with my Mom and had some tacos and a Firestone Double Barrel Ale to help improve my mood :-).

So three races, three bikes, and three podiums!  I know what you're thinking... Short Track, Super D, he didn't podium in XC so what's the third?  It's the top step of the US Cup Triple Crown Series!!!!

Huge congrats to Ryan for his very strong weekend which put him in 2nd for the Triple Crown races on the weekend!  We're both looking forward to Sea Otter coming up fast next weekend and getting the black and green out there to mix it up with the big boys!

Friday, April 5, 2013

US Cup Triple Crown #2 / Fontana Pro XCT

Friday... worst... pre-ride... day... ever.  The bad: 3 crashes, bent spoke on front wheel (wobbly but ok to run), bent crankset, broken big ring, 5 bites from a demon insect, and realized I forgot my 12mm rear hub endcaps.  The good: Confirmed the Tallboy was the best choice for the XC.  And despite a few scrapes and a little knee pain I was still physically good to race.

Moving on...

I was at the venue early in the day to watch my brother take 4th in his Cat 1 race.  After that I started asking around to see if I could wrangle some 12mm end caps so I could run my ENVE wheels on the Tallboy.  HUGE thanks to Jordi, the mechanic for Team Cannondale Sho-Air for pulling them off of his bike for me.  I seriously owe you!!

The first race would be the XC, and at 1:45pm it was pretty toasty in the sun.  Well at least for what we've been used to.  I got a decent call-up and was in the 3rd row... but not quite close enough to catch some shade from Jeremiah Bishop's umbrella.
As usual though when the gun went off I slipped back a bit, but not too far as we went through the first few corners.
I managed to keep a decent position and was feeling pretty good before having to slam on the brakes as we funneled into the first bit of singletrack.  After we got going again I sat down and relaxed in the comfort of rear suspension and recovered, since there was nowhere to pass for a little bit.  At the first opportunity I had, I tried to take a different line over the rough stuff to pass by some hard tail riders.  

It was a short climb though and I passed one but couldn't make the second one stick so I fell back in line again.  The pace was fast and I was feeling it but wasn't quite pegged, then we hit a short climb where slipped down a rut into some sand and missed a shift.  Recovering from the stall out and trying not to let anyone pass put me in the red zone right away, and one guy still got by before we made our way to the pavement climb, which is the one spot I really felt the extra weight and rear suspension.  Plus MTB tires on pavement always feels like it's sucking more energy out of you than it really is.  The heat was radiating and everyone was gassing it... my rev limit was pegged!
I was passed by one rider on the pavement but was still able to keep contact with the front train, which was starting to get strung out even more as we went through the punchy, traversing singletrack along the contour of Southridge.  Here is where the Tallboy started to really pay off.  I couldn't room... but what I could do through the tight little turns, climbs, drops and rocks was relax and recover much easier than I could have on the Highball, and maintain my momentum.  When we finished the first bit of climbing and had a doubletrack traverse to the other side of the hill, I had more pep than the guys I was following so I could power down and pass a few before the last climb to the top.  Here it got a little steeper with some pretty tight switchbacks which are tough for a tall guy.  The right handers would also tweak my sore knee a little bit, but I was still able to make it through just as fast as the other guys.
The lowered rake angle of the Fox TALAS fork in the short setting was great for these climbs, and then when I crested the top I opened it up to 120mm to rail the fun downhill... for a few seconds until I got held up... so I tried to relax and recover again.  The downhill off the top (which is also the first part of the Super D) is legit, with some tight switchbacks, a few drops with good sized granite rocks, and a number of places where you really have to thread the needle or a rock on the uphill side will pull your foot or your derailleur off.  A guy behind me was heckling the rider holding us up, yelling at him to pick it up and close the gap back up.  He picked up the pace a little bit but we had some work to do once the course opened back up and we passed and put our heads down going up the next climb... aaaand back into the red zone!  But then there was another traversing section to rail before a short climb up over the ridge to the flowy backside downhill.  Here I opened up the fork and shock again and let 'er rip.  Thankfully the two riders in front of me were able to keep a good pace and I think we gained some ground back before the flat slog around the north side of the mountain.  There's always a headwind there as you come back so I was hesitant to pass, figuring I'd just end up pulling the other two along with a free ride behind the big guy, but I was able to break away and start making my push towards the front coming in for lap 2.
I really pushed it on the initial flats of the second lap where I knew the Tallboy would excel and made up some ground before hitting the pavement climb again, but I was maxed out and couldn't make any passes before getting into the singletrack again.  After that effort I really had to recover and I was only able to make a couple passes through the remainder of the lap.  I just kind of fell in line for a while and took in some Clif Shot and a bunch of water.  I was feeling the heat for sure, but at least it seemed like everyone else was too. At the start of the third lap the legs were starting to come around again and I was pushing a good pace.  As I wound through the bushes of the flats, I was reeling in a rider that looked to be Team Clif Bar rider Menso de Jong.  I thought to myself, "Nah I can't be that far up, must be someone else."  But before I started up the first sandy climb, it turned out to be Menso.  As I went by I asked if he needed anything.  He said no and that I was looking strong.  That surprised me... I didn't feel strong!  My legs were screaming, my low back was tight and in pain, and my sweat tasted like sea water!  But I kept pushing and as I climbed I still caught people and was feeling better and better!  My third lap felt awesome and as I started my last lap I passed fellow Norcal racer Michael Hosey and my brother said I was in 16th!  What?!?! AWESOME!!!  But he also said the next guys were about a minute ahead... DOH!  Well... power down!
I felt really good on the last lap and rode it all by myself.  I tried to keep from looking over my shoulder and just pushing as hard as I could regardless, so the thought of being satisfied with 16th wouldn't creep into my head.  But I couldn't help but sneak a peak here and there... and there was nobody coming.  There were no rabbits to catch either... they were just too far ahead for me to catch in one lap.  But I was STOKED to roll across the line with my best Pro XCT finish of 16th!!

After the XC I began to convert the Tallboy into a Super D machine... a Fox DOSS dropper post installed and a shorter 70mm stem.  But I discovered the stack height of the shorter stem was different and I needed another spacer!  (First time setting it up this way) Ahhh!! Sooo... when I returned the end caps to Jordi... :-) yeah... I owe him some more beer!  The bike was soon ready to go and I was able to get a few turns in on the lower section of the Super D course.  It felt totally different... better... but different and would take a little time to get used to.  Unfortunately, it was time to head up to the top and get in line to race.  All I wanted to do was lie down and eat everything in sight.  I really wasn't in the mood to push the limits and take risks, but once my run started I just tried to be smooth and as fast as I could.  

I had dumped everything into the XC, physically and emotionally, and I was done.  I wasn't feeling it and was just on the brakes too much.  I'm bummed about it because it is a really fun course.  I just didn't have anything left to give and rolled across in 18th.
Racing was done for Saturday, and even though Super D didn't go that great, I was still VERY happy with the day's results!  I woofed down dinner and went back to work transferring parts back to the Highball for Sunday's Short Track.

Easter Sunday, after a short warmup ride first thing with my brother, we got together with my grandparents and headed off to church.  A good reminder and refresher about what's really important, and celebrate the sacrifice and gift of salvation we enjoy.  After church my bro and sister in law whipped up another awesome brunch... I wanted to eat about 5 times more than I did!  But with only two hours until the short track sufferfest I was able to have better judgement and off to the venue I was again!

I was feeling really flat in my warmup and it was really hard to get going.  I popped some extra Clif Shot Espresso in the hopes of a good caffeine boost but it just didn't seem to be there.  It was going to be tough, but I was going to give it everything and just hope I could avoid being pulled.  The course was very short and flat, avoiding the climb and descent that was included the last time I raced here two years ago.  I lined up 2nd row behind Todd Wells, Ryan Trebon, and Jeremiah Bishop.  I could only hope to keep up with that power!
The gun went off and I fell back slightly, spinning out in the gravel before the first turn, but was able to keep contact with the front group!  Well at least the back of it!  The pain train was goin'... 15 minutes plus two laps!  The first lap was incredibly dusty and as we went through the one tight area of bushes I SMACKED a rock with my rear wheel.  Thankfully the dredded "Hiss" never came and I continued on.
I was feeling a lot better than I expected and kept my head down and pain level up.  I played it smart and drafted where I could and attacked where I knew I could make the bridge to the next guy.  After a few laps we separated into a few groups as the leaders pulled away.  But I stayed in it and was surprising myself as the laps just kept ticking by...
With two laps to go I was in a group of three with Kenda/Felt rider Colin Cares and TJ Woodruff.  Going into one of the last corners TJ got crossed up and endo'd hard!  Thankfully I had a bit of space and was able to get around without getting caught up, but I lost contact with Colin.  I ran the last lap solo but crossed the line in 12th!!!  I couldn't believe it!!!  I think a good part of it was that my niece and nephew were the best cheering section ever... :-)
Can't wait for the final round of the Triple Crown in Santa Ynez...

...and then Sea Otter!