Luck finally turns around

Posted on 9:36 PM by Schottler

Headed down to Birmingham Alabama with Green Beans this past weekend for the US Cup Kenda Qualifier, Bump N' Grind... 2nd year in a row. Last year I had a ton of mechanicals and excuses, and finished 4th in XC. Trails were amazing then, it was pretty easy to talk Nate into joining me this year... I think he was happy he came.

Saturday was STXC, the flier said amateurs only, but I found myself to be up against all the pro's, as well as the Cat 1, 2, 3's and women. It was called Turn N' Burn... I didn't think anything about the name, but I battled for the 2nd row and as the gun went off they yelled "TURN AROUND, THIS IS TURN N' BURN," uhhhhh what!? Super duper, I was one of the last to turn around, here's what I had to battle through.

There were about 60 people or so in the race, and I had to battle through all of them. By the time I got into an okay position, a group of pro's were way off the front. According to Nate, who was my wonderful cheerleader and photographer during this event, I got through the traffic and began my chase about 30 seconds back. I didn't make up any time and I didn't really lose any time either, so I finished 7th overall. Not too bad really. I was running in the red the whole time, not used to putting out that kind of effort that quickly into a race this time of the year. They encouraged people to do the STXC race with big prizes, an average of $45 prize per $45 entry fee... pretty easy to do when there's a $500 bike frame up for grabs. But somehow, out of all of the people, I won the Niner frame. Stood on the podium with the frame in my Cannondale sponsored kit.

The XC race was on Sunday, with about 18 people in my Cat 1 19-29 field. I remembered last year how I nearly missed the start last year and ended up last into the single track, so this time I was stressing out about getting on the front line and getting into the trail top 5. I managed to get on the front line, but quickly realized the people I was racing were willing to take everyone out just so they could get in the trail first. There was a lot of riding through grass and down a street before we hit the trail, but everyone was just running into each other, cussing at each other, and being SUPER sketchy. I nearly got taken out a few times and didn't want anything to do with this, so I was 16/18 into the single track, awesome.

After 3 miles of single track, a double track gravel section popped up and I accelerated around most of the field. I got back into the trail in 5th position and we picked up the pace, dropping the rest of the field. This paceline through the single track lasted until we got to the 660 foot elevation double track climb. The group broke up, and a Kenda rider, ex-pro Andrew Johnston, took off. I sat on a wheel half way up and then pulled the rest of the climb, brining back another rider, putting me in 3rd position. There was a technical descent after this and he flatted, so I was in 2nd position and was in chase mode. After this I began passing some Pro riders who started 4 minutes before me as well as all of the Pro women who started 2 minutes before.

The rest of the race I rode as smooth as possible to keep myself from flatting... and I would have to say it was the smoothest I have ever raced. I kept seeing the Kenda rider up ahead, with time gaps coming down to maybe 15 seconds, but then he disappeared again, not sure where I was losing time. After a little more then 28 miles of racing in 2:05.44 I was done, finishing 2nd. I finished 3rd overall in the Cat 1 field with all age groups, which is getting me closer to being able to upgrade. My time would have put me in 8th/15 in the Pro field, about 9 minutes behind the 1st place Pro, not too bad. But I took home $210... plus a bike frame, totally worth it.

But anyway, I thought I rode very well, very happy to get a convincing result without a mechanical. Up next is the MO State MTB race, then another Kenda Qualifier race in Indiana. Also a HUGE thanks to Green Beans for cooking every meal... and putting up with the awesome German techno in the car... and pace lining for about an hour at 80-100 mph on the way back.


Dan said...

If you had spiffy recovery tights, maybe you'd be standing on top?

g-wiz said...

Or if you had been racing for 20 more years you would? Kinda crazy how a ex-pro 40 year old can come and cherry pick the youngins. So can any race be considered for upgrades or only AMBC races and USAC National Calendar events? Apparently they've changed the rules the last few years. Good race though, impressive...

Schottler said...

Yeah it is pretty crazy he can do that, very fast rider either way. According to USAC, only the national calendar events qualify... two top 3's out of all the cat 1 times, or 3 top 5's. It says AMBC races may be good enough but it depends... on who knows what.

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