June 21, 2010

H2O Overdrive Triple Crown Finals - Massanutten Hoo Ha!

H2O Overdrive Triple Crown Finals - Massanutten Hoo Ha!

Date: June 19-20, 2010
Location: Massanutten Resort, Keezletown, VA
Conditions: Hot!

In attendance: John, Aaron, Jay, Cam, Jeff

This past weekend the Scott RC Mountain Bike Team traveled to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia to race in the the H2O Overdrive Triple Crown Finals consisting of a three races: a Super-D, Short-Track and Cross-Country. Massanutten Resort, who hosted the event, is a classic mountain bike destination and has been holding races at the resort (on pretty much some of the same terrain) since 1989, including a UCI World Cup downhill event. The trails are typical Virginia - lots of rocks, climbing and included typically hot and humid Virginia weather.

Not only was this race the H2O Overdrive Triple Cup Finals, but it was also round two of the USA Cycling's Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, and the Mid-Atlantic Kenda Cup Invitational qualifier. A lot on the line!

The major cycling news organizations came out to cover the race: http://www.cyclingnews.com/, http://www.velonews.com/ and http://www.cyclingdirt.org/.

Additionally, the Triple Crown format pitted all racers in the Triple Crown, whether pro, Cat 1, or in the open category, in the same running for prize money and started all of the categories together. So, an amateur could potentially win the top prize of the weekend if he won all the events.

On Saturday morning, the super-downhill event kicked off the weekend. The team met up before the 1:00 start and rode up the downhill course as a team to get a close look at what we'd be flying down. The trail was full of sweeping singletrack turns that followed the natural terrain, a few short climbs in rock gardens, large berms in fast corners, and some sections of 35+mph. It started out on a rocky ridgeline and finished in the main expo area. Unlike other super-D races, this one was a time trial format as the course was nearly 100% singletrack. We lined up by number and had a 1 minute gap between riders.

The team had a great result, with Aaron and me both top-10 in the pro field and Cam and John both finishing near the top in the open category. Jay had a brief mechanical, but managed to untangle himself and was able to finish with a fast time.
It felt like a 15 minute wind-sprint down the mountain. My heart-rate was maxed out for nearly the entire course!

Former World Championship medalist Sid Taberlay of Sho-Air won the event, with local multi-US national champion Jeremiah Bishop in second.

Saturday afternoon was the short-track, on a bermed course in the expo area, that featured switchbacks, some singletrack, a little jump and was very spectator friendly.

All 60 guys in the Triple Crown event lined up at the same time and went for the holeshot into the singletrack. John had an awesome start, but was taken down by another rider just before hitting the singletrack.

I made it 6th into the singletrack and rode on the wheel of Bishop, Taberlay, Andy Schultz and one other for the first half of the race. The venue was soon covered in massive amounts of dust from the riders and it was nearly impossible to see or breathe clearly.

I fell back from the lead group and Aaron caught up to me - I waved him through into the singletrack ahead of me so I wouldn't get in his way and he continued on to chase the leaders. I could see Cam in a group 30 seconds or so behind me, but couldn't see Jay or John through all the dust.
I eventually recovered from blowing up, but couldn't catch Aaron to help him chase the leaders. Aaron placed 7th and I was 8th. Cam was the first amateur to finish in 13th place overall (besting several pros).

The next morning was extremely hot - nearly 95 degrees - for the the cross country. Riders were tasked with completing two 12 mile loops that climbed to the summit of Massanutten mountain. The course was nearly all singletrack and riders encountered a long switchbacking ascent with several technical rock sections, a rocky-ridgeline, a long singletrack descent from the top of the mountain, lots of baby-head rocks and a few extremely steep, but short climbs. The race was a mass start and a number of riders showed up for just the cross-country portion of the weekend. So, fresh legs to push the rest of us...

The race started with a bang and headed uphill for the first 10 minutes. Aaron got a great start and caught onto the lead pack. I fell back a bit, lungs burning in the heat, and had to recover for the first major climb. I could see Aaron ahead of me in a large group of riders for almost the first 30 minutes, but I couldn't match his pace. Luckily, the promoters had a number of water stations and cooled us off on the switchback uphills.

The trails to the summit were incredible cut singletrack. The thousands of hours of labor that had gone to make them over the past several years were clearly evident. Aaron rode a very strong race to finish 6th in the strong pro-field. Cam was second in the men's open category, just missing out on first by 11 seconds; I picked up 12th in the pro field. John was 3d in the Cat 1 30-39 race and Jay won the Cat 1 50+ master's race by over 9 minutes.

In the combined overall for the weekend, Aaron was 6th, I was 9th, Cam was 13th and John was 21st. A great result for the team!

Results are here: http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/massanutten-hoo-ha-ne

- Jeff

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