I've raced Sea Otter for three years now, and it's been tough to put together a good ride to say the least! In 2009, the temperature soared to 97 degrees Fahrenheit, and I ended up with a nice case of heat stroke. In 2010, I just plain suffered, this year was marginally better. Maybe I'm allergic to the place? Maybe it's a curse?
Really it shouldn't come as a surprise for a working stiff endurance guy that I would get waxed in a short sprinty race at sea level, but you always have your hopes.
For some, it's the big kickoff to the summer mountain bike season, for others it's an "A" priority race and the end of a long spring of racing. Either way it's a big event, and the festival side is huge. Each year I've been down, I've been impressed with how many people attend. It's great to see the interaction between end consumers and companies, something you don't see at some industry events.
I went one for two in the races, and somehow managed to stay in throughout the whole short track, eventually finishing 16th. At one point, I was in the 12th or 13th range but that's about when my body said "what the h*%$ are you doing to me?" and I went backward a few spots. I race about two short tracks per year and hadn't done one since nationals in July last year, so this is about as good as I can expect. It was fun racing though, and the course was more of a mountain bike course than the cross country course!
I'm all for spectator-friendly courses, but I have to say that I was disappointed with the amount of pavement in the cross country course this year. My race was nothing special, though it was my best showing out of the past three years down there.
Racing aside, the big focus of the weekend was selling coffee to raise money for the ALCCI Children's Cancer shelter in San Jose, Costa Rica, that we have visited the past two years before La Ruta de los Conquistadores. I'm working with Matt Ohran and Cannondale to sell as many bags of coffee as we can. Each bag costs $10 and all the profit from each bag goes to the shelter. Each bag purchased also enters you in to a drawing to win a 2011 Cannondale Scalpel 3. Second prize is a free entry in to La Ruta for 2011! Here's the link to buy some coffee: http://www.utcx.net/alcci
Bike racing can be a pretty selfish venture, and it feels good to give something back.
After the Otter, I spent a day relaxing in Monterey with my girlfriend Sammi, then it was back to snowy Utah.
The weekend after Sea Otter was the first ever Utah Championship Series (UCS) Race, and it's great to see an addition to the local race scene. This one was a short, dirt circuit cross country on some amazing fun and flowy trails.
After a few laps of racing, I found myself away with Keegan Swenson, but couldn't shake the youngster no matter what I tried. It came down to a sprint, and I hit the finishing straight in the lead but slipped out of my pedal as I started to sprint and that did me in - Keegan got by me and I couldn't recover.
Awesome racing though, that's what its all about. I'm going to need to get used to getting worked over by Keegan, as he's only getting faster and I'm only getting older!
Endurance racing picks back up this weekend with the Whiskey 50 in Prescott, Arizona, check back for details.
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Alex Grant, 31, is one of America's top endurance mountain bike racers. Sponsored by Cannondale Factory Racing in 2012, Grant juggles racing as a pro with managing an outdoor gear consignment business called Gear Rush, which he co-owns with fellow Utah cyclist and racer Bart Gillepsie. This season, look out for Grant on the podiums at major endurance and stage races. For variety, you may also see him on on the start line of some super Ds, cross countries and short tracks.
In 2011, Grant finished third at the Leadville 100 and eighth at the US cross country national championships while also logging top 10s at the super D and marathon nationals. He finished fifth in the Downieville Classic All Mountain Overall and seventh at La Ruta de los Conquistadores. For the third year in a row, he won the Park City Point 2 Point.
In 2010, Grant made headlines with his second place finish at La Ruta de los Conquistadores, the Breck Epic and the Trans-Sylvania Epic.
When not on his mountain bike, Grant enjoys backcountry skiing, snowboarding and hiking.
Grant is from Richmond, Vermont, and he presently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Follow his 2012 season in this blog on Cyclingnews.
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