August 25, 2007
The final race on the "Amurican" MTB circuit is over, the NMBS Finals in Aspen, and the summer seems to be flying by. However, right now I am trying to train in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for three weeks, and I wouldn't mind seeing some fall temperatures. My only escape from the heat, usually around 95°F, is to ride up to around eight, nine, ten thousand plus feet ( 2700m)where it cools off a bit. Right now, I am way too lazy to get up and ride at 6AM like most desert dwellers.
Way back in July, I got to spend a nice chunk of time in the homeland and attended a couple of Canadian Championships. First was a trip back to Quebec for some road racing with my buddies on the Symmetrics, now presented by FarmPure team. It was sure nice to be on Symmetrics because racing for anyone else at Road Nationals would have sucked; we had a whole lot of heavy hitters in our arsenal. The team didn't sit back and race negative, however; it was full court press right from the gun. I had fun attacking about ten times in the first ten minutes. I didn't end up making the big move at about eleven minutes but we stacked the move and the boys took care of business. Cam took the jersey, Randers took the silver, and Svein rolled in for fourth; I and the rest of the boys got a good workout trying to race the thunderstorms and lighting bolts of the beautiful Beauce region.
After that it was back to BC (British Columbia) and up the island to my hometown of Courtenay for MTB Nationals. My sister was back home too so it was good to see her as she is getting big, round, and ready to have a baby in September. She will be back on the Xterra circuit next year and is still managing to fit in some riding despite the extra luggage. It seems like I am getting to the age where all my friends are either have a kid or have a bun in the oven. I think Keri and I are going to try to avoid growing up for a while longer.
The big bike race was up on Mt. Washington and it certainly felt like ski season. Toulouse and I were warming up with about three or four layers on....thermal, rain shells, toques, and it was so cold, rainy, and windy that we went and rode circles in a parking garage to try to get some heat in the legs. I bought a tub of Vaseline at the last moment to lather up my legs and arms and I think it was the winning move. It was a tight race, and a real mountain bike test between Plankton and me. Being thirty, I can be considered a veteran now, and I used my experience to hold off the young punk to take the maple leaf jersey for another year.
After the stretch in Canada it was back to the U.S. of A. for the last couple of NMBS races in Sugar Mt, North Carolina and Snowmass, Colorado. My in-laws, Mr. and Mrs. Pink, came out to see me ride around in spandex for the first time in North Carolina. I wasn't able to win another nasty race, but I had a good battle with Mr. Bishop, took second place in the XC, and was able to lock up the overall which was a pretty nice consolation prize. In the STXC I lost the last lap showdown and finished fourth; this was going set up an exciting finale in Snowmass. JHK, Todd, and I were virtually tied in the series now and it was going to be winner take all.
Back to Albuquerque and after feeling like a sack of hammers for the first week at altitude I climbed in the car and headed up to Snowmass for the final showdown at 9000 feet (2700m). Seeing as I had nothing to lose in the XC I decided I might as well go with my "crazy" setup and run the Maxxlite 310 tyres; the lightest production tyre goes uphill unbelievably fast and I figured if I made it through the rock gardens and downhill single track I would have a chance to take another win. The gamble paid off barely; after a see-saw battle with Mr. Bishop I ended up getting just enough time on the last uphill to squeak out the win. Jeremiah caught up to me with about seven to eight minutes to go and after a hair razing descent and some drifting through the last gravel corner I hung on by about a second.
I figured I might as well go with the same setup for the STXC and the grassy climbing course was perfect for it. Trebon tried to throw a long bomb, got 20 seconds, and then dropped anchor halfway. I managed my throttle, whittled it down, and eventually ended up alone off the front for the win and another STXC Series Title; sweet as Keri and our dogs, Casey and Tallulah, were there to watch and I got a couple of nice sloppy kisses at the finish. Casey went a little champagne crazy at the awards; he charged the podium when I popped the cork and got a little bubbly bath. It is not like the glory days when I watched Tinker win a Jeep, or watched Travis get a big $10,000 check, but I did get another couple sweet plaques and jerseys to add to the collection... oh yeah, and the glory, oh the glory. I do love to ride my bike though and avoid growing up for as long as I can.
It has been a great year so far and thanks go out to my team, Maxxis, all our great sponsors, the staff, everyone at HQ, my teammates, family, wife, dogs, cats, and everyone out there supporting me this year. Pan-American - check, Canada - check, USA - check, next stop Worlds Championships in Fort Bill, Scotland. Do I have a chance? We will see.