After getting lucky and avoiding the rain again in Mt St Anne I headed down to Albuquerque for a couple weeks training before my next WC in nearby Angel Fire, NM. It definitely wasn't anywhere close to raining in Albuquerque, and at 95F every day I set some new records for bottles consumed on my long training rides. Had time to get our apartment in order and we can now finally park the car in the garage...barely.
Toulouse came down a few days early to set up camp in the living room and train in Albuquerque; we waited to head up to Angel Fire until Friday to avoid the 8500ft of altitude.
The only thing nice about 8500ft was that it was only maybe 80F and sunny which still did a pretty good job of burning up everyone's skin; plenty warm enough to brake out my ice vest anyway. Did a few laps Saturday and was quite pleased with the course; there was definitely some good climbing but they used every bit of vertical in the 12-15 minute singletrack descent. Watched the downhill - Kirkcaldie took another solid result in ninth; had some signature team Maxxis gnocchi and sausage dinner; and then went to bed hoping the legs would show up again on race day.
After a brutally hard start loop climb I settled in the top ten, sagged a bit on the steep part of the climb, and found the power in my legs to hit the descent in third. We all started backing up on the descent as the lead moto decided it was cool to ride about 10m in front of us and roost us in a shower of dust out of every corner.
Heading into the second of four laps I started a battle with Erwin Bakker as Sauser decided to just cruise off up ahead. The next three laps all took a similar theme; Sauser up ahead at 30 seconds or so; Erwin passing me on the climbs, and myself taking time back on the descent. Last lap coke kicked in just in time and I was able to hold my advantage over Erwin on the climb, but I tried in vain to shut down the gap to Sauser which ended up around 18 seconds after he hoisted his bike above his head at the line. It is fun to be racing at the front of a World Cup and achieve another best-ever result for myself; it was also great to see a visibly emotional Erwin come across with his best ever result as well another first ever podium rider in JHK.
Angel Fire is a bit out there and a bit high in the elevation department, but obviously I liked it; it is pretty nice to be able to drive to a World Cup in the same area code. Not much around the town but we did find a most excellent post-race gourmet pizza and beer dinner at Big Kahuna Pizza. Well it is back to ABQ for a couple of days and then on to a couple more altitude NORBAs which fit into the schedule nicely; Idaho first and then back up to Snowmass.
Keep on keeping on,