Saturday, 18 July 2009

9th Xterra US Mountain Champs

With a swim start at 7500ft, the bike climbing up to 9000ft, transition 2 at 8500ft and the run climbing up from there, I knew I was going to suffer here. Just walking up the stairs in the week before left me out of breath. 3 days in Boulder and 2 days here wasn't nearly enough. The swim felt awful, any slight effort, or a mouthful of water (which happened a couple of times), leaves you out of breath for the next minute. However I exited the water only 3 minutes behind the leaders which was a lot better than last week so i can't have been that bad. Onto the bike and I just tried to keep it steady, knowing that is all you can do at this height. I caught up to 6th place and felt pretty good considering. It was a great course, using a very exclusive ski resort 'Beaver Creek', with amazing summer mountain bike trails. You should have seen the posh apartments where the pro's got housed, loving the spa jacuzzi bath. I know I've been running well, with 2nd quickest run last weekend and 4th quickest in Czech, so I was hoping to gain places and get a top 5. However, it wasn't going to be! The local guys living at this height were soon snapping at my heals as I weazed my way slowly to the top of the climbs. Place by place they came past me, in the end I was hanging on to the final cash spot (8th), but this too slipped away with a couple of Km's to go. All in all it was a lot of hard effort for no reward, but a fantastic place with great scenery, and it'll be cheap to get drunk at the altitude tonight! Returning to the UK tomorrow for 3 days, before leaving for France and Alpe d'Huez road triathlon. Hopefully this week at altitude should help me for that race which will be considerably lower.

Monday, 13 July 2009

4th Xterra Vermont US Points race

This weekend was the first of 2 races stateside.

With 5 weeks of heavy rains it was extremely muddy, however it had been warm enough to make the swim non wetsuit for the pro's, and i hadn't packed my super speedy blue seventy zero point 3 suit, because of baggage restrictions. So on the start line I was the only pro without a swim skin of some variety. How much advantage they give and how much was psychological I don't know, but I lost far more time than usual. In the end this was to deny me 2nd place.

Onto the bike and I was in my element in the 'British' conditions and I had the 2nd fastest bike split, ahead of guys such a three times world champion Conrad Stoltz, renown as the best biker in Xterra in the US. I used my Cannondale Scalpel, with Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres which proved to be superb in the gloop, with Sundog eyewear keeping it out of my eyes.

Conrad and 2006 World Champion Nico LeBrun entered T2 together in the lead, with Seth Whealing and Dan Hugo together in 3rd and 4th, I was in 5th and had them in my sights and was closing fast.

Onto the 2 lap run I was inspired by my 4th quickest run split in Czech 2 weeks ago and started fast. I could soon see Dan Hugo and knew I was closing on him, I caught him nearing the end of lap 1 and could then see Seth Whealing just ahead of me, and heard that Conrad was in 2nd and fading fast.

On the final descent of lap 2 Seth managed to catch Conrad and nip past in an exciting sprint finish, I couldn't quite bridge the gap in time and ended up in 4th, but with the 2nd fastest run split of the day. If only I had that swim skin.

Sitting in Burlington Airport now at 6 am East Coast time on my Panasonic laptop, about to fly to Colorado for the US Xterra Mountain Championships. Looking forward to catching up with Julie Dibens for her first Xterra of the year, after her very successful weekend this weekend. Next weekend should be very different, starting at 8000ft elevation and getting lots higher, in an epicly hilly course. It's going to hurt!

Thank you very much for Joe and Maggie (and Kelsey the labrador) for putting myself and Renata up in their house for the last few days. It was great fun.