2018 XCM National Champs Report

2018 XCM National Champs Report

My “early season target” event was indeed early this last weekend in the woods of Arkansas. The 2018 USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike Race was my first race as a 40-year-old Masters athlete. Entering my 40th year of life, I’ve been enjoying putting more and more of my daily efforts into other areas of my life alongside my own training and racing. Running a business, coaching, family, and kids training & racing have been extremely rewarding. Being a competitive person, and one that enjoys the pursuit of health and fitness, I’m not ready to put my own racing down for good, but stepping back to high level age-group racing provides plenty of competition and motivation to keep my standards high.

The long distance course in Arkansas was certainly a challenging one.

One 4 mile “start loop”, followed by two 23 mile laps of tight, twisty, rocky single track required intense focus and nearly nonstop pedaling for the 3+ hours of planned racing. Total elevation gain was moderate, but with all of it coming as short punchy climbs or less obvious shallow twisting grinds, the course kept racing pretty darn challenging. In addition, starting several waves back on the start grid and having to work through traffic on course is something new to add to the challenge of Masters MTB racing.

Race morning was cool and clear. Pre-race routine was set and executed. The race plan was to sit second or third wheel for the first 27+ miles and feel out the competition and pace. Then from there, assessing when and where to try and make a move to get away. With the gun going off, things settled in for the opening three miles on the road before really getting lit up as we entered the single track.

The 40-year-old field may not be as deep the Pro field, but the pointy end is just as sharp!

 

My plan was intact through the first full lap as I sat in second with the leader in sight with 20+ miles to go. Races rarely ever go as planned, and unfortunately my plans began to unravel halfway around the second lap. I begin to feel my hands and elbows getting fatigued, almost like a tendonitis or arthritis type feeling. Then my pace began to drop and as I lost sight of the lead, I also struggled to keep my bike on the rocky trail. I chalked it up to some late-race fatigue and something I would bounce back from, after some calories and hydration, like I’ve experienced in the past.

Unlike previous experiences however, I wasn’t coming back. Rather continuing to fade backwards as riders in my group began to catch and pass me. I was getting frustrated mainly because the first 30+ miles I was riding so well and railing the single track, to now find myself seemingly unable to even stay on the trail! Once back to about 7th or 8th pace and grip strength diminishing, I decided to stop to gather myself. I stretched out my hands and back, squeezed my tires to check pressure, and pushed on my suspension for squish.

No squish was found on my fork.

I took a closer look and saw that my left fork seal had blown off and was at the top of the stanchion. I tried continuing on some more, but my motivation had vanished and I honestly felt like I was in the way, having to let riders go around me until I called it a day at a road crossing at mile 43. Post race I learned that loss of air in one chamber of the fork can create pressure to build and blow off fork seals. Then more air can be lost and the imbalance causes the fork to “lock out” and/or become basically inoperable. On a different course, perhaps not a race ending disaster, but on this nearly entirely rocky single track course, without a fully functioning fork you don’t stand a chance.

It’s never a good feeling to DNF a race. Thankfully I’ve only had to a very few times over my 20+ year racing career. The thoughts going through your head as you make your back to the start area are full of mixed emotions with disappointment being the primary. Mechanicals, crashes, mistakes of all kinds, and disappointment are a big part of racing. I try not to dwell on the negative for too long, but rather just long enough to evaluate and learn from the incident to hopefully not allow it to happen again in the future.

All said and done, overall it was good experience and one that I hope to have another crack at in the future. In the meantime, after a short recovery break, it will be back to an 8 week block of training and racing, building up towards my primary goal of my 2018 season in the Leadville 100 MTB later this summer. More on this to come!

 

Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Sessions:6 Sport Performance. Looking for help with your endurance sport training? Check out S:6’s Training Plans, Team Programs, and  Personal Coaching options created to fit your needs and budget.

 

 

 

 Shop Rudy Project for the best helmets & eyewear for the most demanding athletes. Use code: s6racing at checkout and receive 50-62% discount on all their gear.

 

 

2018 Whiskey 50 Off-Road Report

2018 Whiskey 50 Off-Road Report

Sunday I finally got a chance to race stop #1 of the Epic Rides Off Road Series: Whiskey 50, in Prescott, AZ. This is a race I’ve wanted to do for many years now, and this year was finally the year. I’ve heard great things about the Epic Rides Off Road Series of events and it did not disappoint. Awesome venue, great course, well run and well attended. This is the first MTB race I’ve been to in a long time that felt a little like MTB racing did back in the late-nineties (when I was getting started): the vendors, the teams, and the vibe were all really great. It felt like a big-time event… well I guess because it is a big time event!

I highly recommend this event in Prescott to anyone that love long, hard, climbing mountain biking that puts a demand on both fitness & skill.

This was my first big test of fitness for 2018. See where I’m at coming out of my off-season Base Builder training program and where I need to improve. I also picked this event as a “tune-up” race one week prior to my first A-Race of the year: Masters 40+ Marathon National Championships in Arkansas.

With a big (for MTB) prize purse being offered, the Professional field was not only huge, 90+ men/40+ women, it was stacked!

We’re talking nearly all of the best XC/Marathon racers in North America and a few from overseas as well. Olympians, World Champions, National Champions (past & present), and World Cup level racers. Plus many younger up-and-coming racers wanting a chance at hanging with the top dogs if only on the opening climb. This made the race exciting, gave it great vibe, and made you feel part of something for sure. I’d venture a guess saying that this may well be the most competitively attended event of the entire North American season.

With that said, my main goal was to race a good solid effort and not worry so much about actually “racing” (i.e.. placing). This will likely be my last real professional race of this caliber, so to enjoy the experience and give a good early season effort was the plan. I also had to hold back just a few percent for next weekends higher priority goal event. Holding back just 2-3% makes a big difference in recovery time following the race, and only a small handful of minutes lost within the race.

Read More
2018 Cactus Cup Fat Tire 40 Report

2018 Cactus Cup Fat Tire 40 Report

  • March 13, 2018
  • Blog

It’s officially the “Pre-Season” and time to start thinking about racing!

I decided to start my 2018 race season off a little earlier than the last several with the Cactus Cup Fat Tire 40 XC race outside of Scottsdale this last weekend. I picked this race primarily for its early spot on the calendar, while in need of a couple of races before my first “A-Race” in early May (full race schedule HERE). With the additional appeal of warm weather, and expectedly fierce competition from local Arizona and nearby California racers that are already near top race form, I figured it would be a good challenging race to kick things off with for the new year.

The following is a quick “Race Report” for those interested, and hopefully more informative “Takeaways” or lessons learned (or remembered) from my racing experience that perhaps you can apply to your own upcoming racing endeavors…

THE RACE

The longish, 42 mile race was held on most of the trails within the McDowell Mountain Regional Park outside of Scottsdale. This trail system is made up of super fast, flowy, mostly smooth trails; sprinkled with some surprisingly rocky sections to keep it honest. Not much elevation gain or loss, but rather long “false flats” and roller coaster terrain, with the occasional 1-2 minute long power-climb.

Read More