CCCX XC MTB #5, May 8, 2011, by JQ

Happy Mother’s Day. I got up early so I could Skype with my mom before my race.

I got to the race sight early, registered, and got the bike prep’d and ready to rock. I also got kitted up in our SWEEEEET new Quadzilla Racing Voler kits. It would be the first time we’ve raced in them and I was kinda looking forward to it. I went out on my warmup lap (with my awesome new Quadzilla Racing jacket!!!) and tried to stay out of the way of the Cat3 riders who were racing. I wasn’t taking the warmup too seriously and I know this because I stopped and helped a kid get his drivetrain working and straighten and tighten his handlebars. Further into the warmup, I happened upon a VeloGirl rider who had taken a bit of spill so I stopped to make sure she was okay and caution traffic as she regained her composure. After repairing her bike for her a bit and making sure she was okay, the “warmup” continued.
The course was gonna be super fast and only really contained one real climb, so I’m not sure that it really favored me, but I was gonna ride it anyway. I could feel before the race started that I didn’t quite have my usual pop, possibly from the training week, but my stomach also didn’t feel great.

As we lined up, I chatted with the usual suspects and got ready to race. As the wave went off, my drivetrain skipped a bit and I found myself at the very back of the field where I found Brian Butler and I joked with him for a bit before I started riding up the field. I knew I would see him again since that’s just his style of riding – I can’t do that… my ego won’t let me.
So I pushed up the field making sure to get position ahead of as many singlespeeders as possible. William Kemper jumped out and started leading a bit of a charge, so I figured I should get on his wheel and together with a few others, we built a fast train which was moving hard through the course. I had no idea how many riders were up the road from me and I didn’t really care. For some reason I was feeling a bit blasé about the race – not 100% sure why either.

As we finished up the first lap, I figured that William had pulled for long enough and I would share the work load with him. I passed him saying “I’ll pull for a while…” and I went to the front of the pack and put my head down. I pulled for a full fast lap and I looked behind me to see Marshall hanging out with no apparent desire to pull, so I just kept on riding, not really wanting to let the pace drop and not really caring even though it was pretty windy. We’re smoking through the field, but since it’s a short fast lap and the Sport riders also got sent off in our field, we start getting into lap traffic really quickly and I’m surprised how fast we’re getting into it.

I pull the train for another couple laps with small intermittent breaks behind Alex Wild and another Cat1 racer until he mechanicals and pulls off. Alex is yo-yoing off the front of our group after an apparent mechanical of some sort. At this point, I’m feeling a bit tired, but I keep the pace as high as practicable. I hear some commotion behind me and I know that something’s up. William passes me and tries to make a bit of a break. I talked to him about joining Quadzilla, so I give him a bit of a gap, but that’s quickly filled by Marshall and Brian – and THAT is how you go from running first one the trail to 4th on the trail in about 10 seconds. I regain my composure and cling to the back of the pack, who was joined with Alex now and is charging like a locomotive through the trails. We’re dealing with a lot of lap traffic now and I realize that it’s probably going to be an issue, but I just haven’t got the pop to do anything about it after having pulled at the front for so long.

At one point, we come up on a bigger Cat2 rider who is taking up the whole trail. Alex, Brian, and Marshall sneak through, but as William makes the pass, the Cat2 rider runs him off his line and they both crash in front of me on the trail, blocking the entire area. William recovers and we get back on the trail fairly quickly but with any momentum we had gone and the group definitely got away right there. I get back on the front and start trying to track down the other guys, but at this point, I’m pretty fried and the other guys have a pretty good gap. In my mind, I know I’m just fighting to salvage some pride and stay on the podium. I crush out the last half lap by myself having dropped William somewhere behind me, but I check over my should quickly on one of the last straights knowing he can’t be too far behind and not wanting to be surprised.

I cross the line in 3rd behind Marshall and Brian. Beaten by the Usual Suspects. Am I disappointed? Maybe a bit, but I knew what I was doing and I didn’t really care, so why should I be disappointed? I see Brian in the medical tent and as Marshall recounts to me how he felt trying to keep my wheel for the 4 laps that I was pulling, I feel better, knowing that I can crush speed out and that if I just ride a bit more strategically, I can accomplish what I want. At least I got the kit onto the podium at its inaugural race.

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