September 08, 2010

Windham Worlds Weekend

Well the Windham World Cup weekend has come and gone. I've waited to write something about this weekend because I wanted to see how Mount St. Anne played out. Well as of this writing Nino Shurter and the Swiss Power Mountain Bike Team have sealed the 2010 race season. I mention this because being a Regional powerhouse team I can't help but feel inspired and motivated by the international guys.

I arrived at Windham on Friday the 27th swung by the house we had rented and since no one was there yet figured I would stop by the race sight, pick up the packet, stop by the Scott tent and just wander around to see what was going down. After getting the packet I swung over to the Scott tent and ran into teammates Jay Dodge, Cam Dodge, Nathaniel Williams, Ginny (Jay's wife). Also to my surprise, just coming in from a ride, was Nino Shurter, Florian Vogel, Patrik Galleti and Thomas Frischknecht.

I quickly caught up with everyone to find out what the course was all about. Very Euro in layout. Short laps with a bit of climbing and some quick descending. Keeping with the theme of the 2010 World Cup venues anyone spectating had some pretty good vantage points. After the quick introductions to the Swiss Power team I made my way out on to the course for a couple of pre-rides. The course overall wasn't bad.

Windham had, from what I was told, about 7 inches of rain over Monday, Tues and Wed, but was pretty dried out on Fri. I found the dirt to be Superman dirt where you can really lean the bike and not slide the tires. As for climbing the rear wheel sticks like velcro with every pedal stroke just throwing you forward. It's the kind of soil, course where you want to ride at race pace because you never feel this good in an actual race. After a couple of laps I headed back to the Scott tent and wound down from the euphoric feeling that is a World Cup. After all we are riding the same course and tenting with the number one team in the world.

When dusk started to roll in we headed back to the house showered up and headed into Windham to check out the Block Party they had going on. Everyone was in attendance including Aaron Snyder and his girlfriend Jen, who made it up for the two days and a couple of the Scott reps who happened to drop by for the festivities. The block party was pretty chill with what is basically a sleepy town until winter trying their best to pull off the winter skiing vibe in August. It was fun to watch, but the Roller Derby was by far the coolest thing I've seen in a while. The girls wanted to throw down on each other, but were behaving themselves. After a couple of beers at the local brewery it was back home and to bed.

Saturday was a fun, cool, low key day. Everything spectating was going on. I hooked up with Aaron, Jen and all around good guy Bart Passanante (team mgr, northeast sales manager for Scott and legendary drinker) and headed up to watch the Pro Womens XC and Mens XC. We had rockstar parking on one of the technical descents and dug our feet in. It's very telling watching the Elite racers. As for the climbs and flat sections there isn't a whole lot of hierarchy. If you have a good day you're up there, but on the descents it's a whole different story. You can definitely tell the Elites from the Continental and Regional Pros. They seem to go down as flawlessly as water. It's almost magical to watch. The Mens race the same thing, but at a faster pace and for the first couple of laps it seems they were all together. Ants marching, but at a Neil Pert pace. Super fast. Leading out the procession was local hero and motorcycle mad man Jay De Jesus (sp?). He looked good and at one point I thought he was losing to the Elite men. After 4 hours of being perched on the hillside Catherine Pendrel and Jaroslav Kulhavy took the win with Nino Shurter securing the World Cup overall. Mission one accomplished..

Nino Schurter flying into the spectator friendly woods
Ripping through the rock garden
Frischy's "loaner" Scale 899 - Florian Vogel's super fast and light bike
Frischy out taking photos of his riders
Mission two....Sunday 8am. This is the Race the World for the category racers and one which I was training specifically for. The Cat 1 30-39 race started at 8am. Teammates John Arias, Ross Anderson and myself were on the start sitting in the first two rows. John and Ross had a better start then I did.

Ross dropping into Kabush Falls

With about 50 starters in the field things got hectic quick. I flubbed getting into the pedal and with that many guys aiming for the same thing I got pushed to the back quick. After finding the pedal and the holeshots I started to find my rhythm and pull back the field that got away. I moved up rather quickly and found myself sitting in what I thought was 10th through the first single track section. I felt good on the second set of climbs and found myself moving up even more. At this point I started to pick off the classes that started before me.

John focused on the descent

John heading into the sunlight and toward the finish line after a technical descent

Cam taking the direct line through Kabush Falls

 Not sure of where I was and who was actually in my field I got into a good flow on the descents and the climbs.

Scottie heading into Kabush Falls

 On lap 2 of 4 I found myself battling with the same 4 guys. I would drop them on the climbs and they would pass me on the descents. It went on like this for the next 2 laps.

John heading through Kabush Falls

Cam exiting Kabush Falls and toward the win

 When everything shook out I would finish in 6th being bested by the 4 guys that I had gone back and forth with. Ross took 9th and John took 19th.

Scottie, John and Ross post-race
Ross and Scottie
Teamates Jay Dodge and his son Cam rocked in their categories. Cam won his field and Jay finished 3rd.

Jay heading to 3d place

 Jeff Dickey raced the Pro (non-UCI) field and finished 5th. It was a good race and weekend for the team. The highlight of the weekend would have to be getting to tent and hangout with the Swiss Power Team. Watching the race set up, the way the mechanic works on and cleans the bikes, and just the overall level of professionalism is overwhelming. Keeping in mind that they are on the other side of the ocean of what they are used to is surreal. Everyone was super cool. Nino, Patrik, Florian and Thomas were overly helpful, friendly and approachable. Great guys in a great sport.

The team before the start

As someone who started riding/ racing in the mid 90's I have always followed Thomas Frischknecht his career and his races. It was very cool to have him sign my Ritchey jersey and ask me if my jersey turned purple on the sleeves (which it did). We discussed the old Ritchey days the bikes the man and tubed tires. His English is great and my Laden (Swiss/ German combination) is horrible, but we seem to understand each other in only the way one cyclist to another can.

One last point in mentioning. I want to send a heart felt thanks to everyone on the Scott RC Mountain Bike Team and especially Bart Passanante for making this whole trip and year as successful and fun as it has been. With the Mountain Bike season coming to a close and Cyclocross ramping up I couldn't think of a better group of guys to suffer with on multiple Sundays. I have one more race in my series and a few of the guys have two or three more. There will be more posts and judging by the way 2010 is playing out more fun and successes to write about.

Stay Healthy and keep the rubber side down, Scottie

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