by Dennis Pham
Leading up to the race there was a small chance I’d be racing in the rain. Regardless of the weather, I took a chance and mounted an S-Works Fast Trak (29 x 2.0) in the rear. In the back of my mind, I knew even if it rained I’d be better off on the Fast Trak than the Small Block 8 I rode the previous race. Nevertheless, the weather the day of the race was perfect. The Fast Traks stuck like glue and displayed very low rolling resistance.
Overall, I made five major errors during the course of the day.
#1 — I didn’t pre-ride the entire course.
#2 — I was in the wrong gear on the lead out sprint to the singletrack.
#3 — Took the incorrectly line on a left hairpin turn after a long
high speed descent multiple times.
#4 — Lost track of the lap count during the course of the race
(autopilot) and let a rider pass me on the last section of the last
#5 — Lost track of the first group/leader.
At the start of the race I wanted to be in the first group heading into the singletrack. That didn’t happen due to the fact that I was in the completely wrong gear at the start. Got dropped to last (once again) but I managed to fight back into the middle of the pack before the start of the singletrack. I was two riders behind fellow team rider Ryan Stoup, I knew that if I kept up with him I would be in good shape.
Up the first time climb the group divides into two and of course I’m in the group that is falling behind. The two riders ahead of me decided it was nice time for a rest. I sat there pleading that they do some work knowing in the back of the my mind we were all losing precious time (probably a minute or so). I passed the two riders as soon as the trail opened up. After that I started passing when possible and riding as efficiently and smart as possible.
Near the middle of lap 2 I hear a familiar voice and it turns out to be a fellow team rider Paul. I know he is having a good race (he actually finished 2nd in his race) being that he is started a minute after my group. I step aside and let him pull on the downhill section. Turns out he is on a mission and just leaves me behind. Paul’s a very fast descender. I tried to stay on his wheel but decided it was a better idea to ride at my own pace.
The rest of laps 2/3 I mostly rode by myself, however at the beginning of the 4th lap I caught a rider in my group. I asked him how far the others were and he said about 30 seconds. I told him to move over so I could pull. I pulled as hard as I could catching 4-5 riders, however none of them were in our group. At that point I was pretty burnt, discouraged and tired. I need a quick break so on the last climb I let the rider I pulled along pass thinking we had one more lap. Big mistake! It turned out we were on the last lap!
At the end of the day, I finished 7, ~ 30 seconds off a top 5 finish and about a minute twenty off the podium. Looking at my lap times on Strava it seemed like I got faster as the race progressed and even after the race I felt like I still had a lot left in the tank. So at least I have some positive points to take away from the race.