NORBA #1, Texas, March 4-6, 2005
Back in big ol' Texas. The winter got a couple weeks shorter this year as the mountain bike season started this last weekend with the NORBA National #1 in Tapatio Springs just outside of San Antonio, TX. Coming off a week at a cold and sometimes snowy road camp in Georgia I was wondering how the body was going to react to that burning feeling again. Luckily it was a mini stage race with a shorter TT and short track to warm up the legs before what was an epic cross-country race. The Texans don't seem to have a lot of big hills but they make it up with some of the sweetest singletrack on the circuit.
Getting the bikes and clothes ready for the start of March is always a bit of a challenge but our new mechanic Gary Wolff and young protege Adam aka "Newt" (back in Boulder until school gets out) got the bikes rolling for myself and new Quebexican teammate Matt Toulouse just in time; we even have a new trailer for Team Maxxis this year which really makes us feel proper Pro in the pits. We are a bit of a full on Commonwealth team this year with 2 Canadians, Gary the Brit, and Kirkcaldie the Aussie; I mean Kiwi.
Texas brings up redneck thoughts when some people think about it but we stayed at a sweet hippy B&B even if it was a bit small. They were living off the land and we got organic fresh eggs from the chickens, sausage from goats, yoghurt, scones, etc every morning. Makes a difference when you are on the road for a while.
Stage one was a fast ten minutes of pain in the TT; by the way it hurts the same no matter how fast you are going. I was sporting the #1 plate, went off last, and came in first which was a pretty sweet way to start the season off. Trent Lowe, fresh from road camp with me in Georgia, finished a very close second so something we did in Athens seemed to be helping even if half the team got sick there. Toulouse also coming from training in Athens had a solid ride for tenth.
Stage two was the short track cross country and the rain was holding off but there was a bit of a bog before the finish; it was a bit sketchy with the super slick Oriflamme's but it was worth it for fast bits. The course had one of the most substantial climbs I have seen in a short track so I wound up the pace from the start to string things out. Trent was once again firing it up so it came down to a two man race even though Adam Craig was charging hard behind us. I didn't think I could drop Trent so I waited patiently and countered on the final climb of day to just edge out the win by a couple of seconds. Toulouse cracked the top ten in seventh place.
Could I do a sweep of the weekend? Not quite but first came the costume crit. It was Saturday night and I read about it in the race flyer late in the afternoon; fortunately my infamous three piece denim suit and mullet costume was still in the trailer from US Cross Nationals. It was pissing down rain and I didn't feel like doing it so I thought it would be funny if my manager Mr. Wallace tried to do an impersonation of myself; he already commonly gets mistakenly identified. The deal was 50 bucks if I got comments from everyone the next day about it. He lost to a monkey in the race but he got the 50 bucks as many prominent journalists, photographers, and NORBA personalities thought I was out there givn'r. I guess he got the FUBAR things down pretty good with a few "wooohooos" and "turn down the suck knob".
After it had been raining for a day straight and causing flash flood warnings we lined up for the cross-country on Sunday; this suited me just fine. Fun singletrack and I was off the front at the start; problem was I kept going blind and even went off course for a bit with mud in the eyes. After figuring out a good technique with the glasses down on my nose I got back in the group with Adam and myself pushing the pace with Trent and JHK trying to keep contact. It was an epic race and unfortunately for me about five minutes too long. I thought I almost had it won when I got a gap on the last lap but my gas tank seems to hit empty really hard these days and my arms fell off on the last descent. Survived for third as Adam and Trent slipped by in the race as well as for the overall. Toulouse survived to finish off the weekend in eleventh for the weekend.
It was a good hard weekend to start things off. It is fun to be back in action even if it is a bit early in the year; the legs seem to be okay with it anyway. Waco E1 is up next before on to Scottsdale for NORBA #2; hopefully we will get some sun soon or I am going to fry.
Over and out,
Popular Canadian mountain bike racer Geoff Kabush races for Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain. He's a regular on the mountain bike World Cup circuit and at Canadian and US national series races. You'll also see him in some occasional mountain bike stage races during the season and on the cyclo-cross circuit in the fall.
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