March 18, 2011

Shootout on Angler's Ridge - Race Report

What: Shootout on Angler's Ridge Cross Country; Wicked Witch Time Trial
Where: Danville, VA
When: March 12/13
Who: Aaron and Jeff
Conditions: Perfect spring weather - dry and sunny and in the mid-60s to mid-70s
Results:  Time trial - Aaron 2nd, Jeff 5th;  Cross-country - Aaron 4th, Jeff 7th

I headed south last weekend to Danville, VA with Laura to the Shootout on Angler's Ridge to meet up with Aaron and Jen (who were driving north from Key West) for a great weekend of racing.  The Southern Virginia Mountain Bike Association was hosting a time trial Saturday afternoon, a movie (Ride the Divide with multi-time Divide Race winner Matt Lee in attendance) and a cross-country on Sunday.  The weather couldn't have been better and the turnout was enormous.  Plus, I haven't seen a prize list like the one offered there in quite a long time (not insignificant cash prizes for the Sport categories, as well as large cash prizes the Expert and Pro categories (male and female))

On Saturday morning the town of Danville held a trail running race on some of the mtb trails (Laura won her age group in the half marathon and was the second woman overall).  Laura reported back that the trails had some very steep, but short climbs and the course had no flat sections at all.

A nice warm-up on the trails showed them to be in top condition - it's evident that the local organization has done a tremendous job in upkeep of their trails.  They showed almost no sign of the torrential rains earlier in the week.  I confirmed Laura's trail info - very short and steep hills.

Time Trial Start
 The time trial was one lap around the shortened cross-country course and featured punchy climbs and just about 100% singletrack that was a blast to ride.  The time trial was open for all and paid $500 for the winner, with cash back to 10th (or 15th) place.  Aaron turned in a fast ride to finish a close second and I came in 5th.  That was my first hard effort of the year and it was a rude awakening for my legs. That hurt!
Heading down the road and into the woods on the TT course
Sprinting for the finish in the TT
Saturday night was a pasta dinner put on by the race organizers, and featured Sierra Nevada beer plus a movie on a large screen in the Danville town community center (a converted train depot).  A very fun way to spend the evening!
Day two was very warm and the races were delayed for nearly an hour becuase of the high numbers of people registering.  The race sold out in full.  I haven't seen that happen in years in a mtb race and it speaks well to how much fun this race was - everyone wanted to join in, especially on such a sunny day.  After the 6 hour endurance race got under way, the pro race started 30 minutes later (they started the pro field plus all of the multiple expert fields at once).
Before the start
On the starting line
Someone went down in the pro category just after the start, taking down a number of other people and bringing Aaron to a dead stop.  A bike flew up and whacked my rear derailleur, throwing it out of alignment.  But, I was able to get through the carnage and followed Nick Waite into the singletrack where a group of 6 formed.
Aaron chasing back to the leaders after the start line carnage
About 1/3 of the way through the first lap, I was about to blow up due to the high pace and finally Aaron caught back onto the main group.  As soon as that happened, I dropped back to try and recover at my own pace.  Boy, was I glad to be riding my Scott Spark RC.  Its 110mm of travel smoothed out all of the roots that crossed the trail and helped me speed up on all the downhills and weighing only 21 pounds helped me up any hill in my way.

The trails were tons of fun and all of the other riders were very polite and accommodating given the tight passing areas.  Lots of "can I pass on your left" and pleases and thank yous went a long way to getting around slower riders very easily.

On lap #2, I grabbed a bottle of Tri-Berry nuun for some electrolytes.  The day was much warmer than I'd anticipated and I was sweating out a lot of salt.  Given the short steep hills, it was a recipe for cramping.  I started to pick up the pace and felt better and better.

By the end of the second lap, I'd made up some time and was ready to go for lap #3.  I grabbed my favorite type of electrolyte drink, nuun's Kona Cola (caffeinated - it tastes somewhat like Coke and gives the energy that Coke gives at the end of a race, but without the carbonation so it's exceptionally easy to drink and doesn't upset my stomach) and roared out for my last lap.  I
passed four riders who had been ahead of me for most of the day and just ran out of time to catch two more who were almost in reach by the time I hit the finish to get 7th.  The result wasn't the best, but it felt like my form was coming around and I felt better at the finish than at the start - that's a good feeling!

Post-race salt deposits on my face - nuun prevented any cramping from dehydration!
Aaron in 4th - rocking his new SOLE Casual Flips
I was very impressed by one rider, Dylan Johnson, a 16 year old who raced in the 19-29 year old Category 2 race.  He rode a singlespeed and beat all of his competitors.  If he'd been in the open singlespeed category, he probably would have won that race too.  I remember seeing Dylan in the Shenandoah 100 last fall where he finished 4th place in the singlespeed category against some top riders.  Watch out for him in the future - this kid is fast!

After a bit of a wait for results - the wait was made much easier by tons of BBQ from Checkered Pig BBQ - we hit the road back to DC to close out on an awesome weekend.  A great sunny race weekend - finally warm enough to wear my SOLE Sport Flips - it could be the reason I felt so good this weekend was becuase my feet were happy!

Results are here.

I'd highly recommend this race to anyone next year.  The course was tons of fun, the event with its two day format, plus a social event, made for a great time and the prize lists were phenomenal.  This was as much fun as I'd had at some great events last summer like the Massanutten Hoo-Ha, the Leadville 100 or Shenandoah 100.

Next up for me are two circuit races in Maryland this weekend, then a crit and the Jefferson Cup road race next weekend in Charlottesville, VA.

- Jeff

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