The XTerra season kicked off last Sunday, April 28th at the XTerra Jersey Devil. The race was at the right time of the year and close enough for me to drive up the day before and still get a pre-ride in. I’m always a bit off in the first race it seems, which is all the more reason to race and work out the bugs before the races that count. Despite some minor mechanical issues (I have to question Breezer’s choice of brake cable run), I had a solid pre-ride and turned in some solid lab times without moving out of impulse power. My lines were pretty good and the course was clearly a power course, with some deep sandy single track, a bit of mud and lots of fire road.
I wrapped up my ride and offered some tire advice and my Stan’s Tire Sealant to a rider who flatted, but was turned down in lieu of a tube?! Huh man? Seriously, a tube? Well, I did my song in dance to another rider, but started to feel like a drug pusher, so I cleaned up and ate dinner; week old pizza was more like pizza jerky but filling. Despite numerous weather checks, showing lows in the 50’s, I was ill prepared for camping in low 30’s and got little sleep. I used to really fret about sleep the night before but then I realized there really is no correlation to good/bad sleep. Nonetheless, I didn’t feel overtly tired and I knew I had a good taper.
The morning started frigid, but warmed up quickly, once in my wetsuit I hit the lake for a short warm-up. Water temp was maybe low 60’s, but the swim, while ok, never really happened, which meant I had a a lot of time make up on the bike. I have to say, once on the bike I don’t waste any time moving up. Despite some heavy legs, I made very quick work of the first 40 riders before getting caught in some traffic in the trenches – fire breaks the serve as some nice single track. I hit the first lap through 4 minutes faster than my pre-ride and continued to make progress but not enough for my liking. Going into the run, however, I was sitting in 13th.
From the start of the run I was not feeling particularly good, so I tried to settle in, but with constant changes in direction and terrain, the course was hard to find a rhythm and a few misplaced signs, not to mention ripping open the toe of my shoes (FYI: NB makes crap shoes) saw a large group behind catch up. Shedding all but one, I continued to move up, but in the end came up 8 sec short of top 10 but still had enough for 3rd in the 35-39. Oh, and 2nd fastest bike by just 10 sec; lesson to learn here is that every sec on the bike counts and waiting in the single track really counts!
Special thanks to my great sponsors: Stan’s No Tubes for keeping the wheels turning, Rudy Project for protecting my head and eyes, and Honey Stinger and Gu Brew for keeping the legs turning! Oh, and BTW, the new Rudy Windmax helmet is eye popping.