May 04, 2011

Rude Awakenings....

Alright, lets see, the last time I posted on the site it was the middle of a winter I couldn't forget about fast enough. Now it's the beginning of May and the harsh reality of what I thought was "intensity" training over the winter is starting to show it true side. There is no training like racing. This adage has been said to me over the years more than I can recall. How true it is. So now with three races into 2011 I am starting to see how the guys in the rest of the Elite field spent their winter.

The first race of the season was the M.A.S.S opener at Fairhill. It's a race that has become an early season institution. The start is a who's who of East Coast's finest racers. Pro road riders show up as well as the course itself isn't super technical or hilly. This year we had Aaron Snyder, Brandon Draugelis, Weston Schemp, Nick Waite, Chris Beck and Jeff Shalk towing the line with the rest of us. As you can probably surmise by now that was your front group of the race. I was not so lucky to make that group or the chase group, but followed up in the third group chasing them down. I can thank that to an absolutely horrible start where I could not get into my pedal. Once in though it was a chasing game for the 3 lap race. I moved into the top 20 and just tried to steadly make my way foward. After all was said and done I finished with a 19th place. Not bad considering the start and my goal was to finish in the top 20. I felt strong the whole race and when it was over I felt I could go another lap or two. Objective one down. Objective two practice my starts.

Race two saw me skip the Tour De Tykes due to scheduling conflict with a duathalon I had promised a friend I would do with him. The duathalon was a run-bike-run affair with the run being a 2 mile trail run followed by a 10 mile mountain bike race followed up by another 2 mile run. After showing up late and by late I mean the run had already started when we pulled into the parking log my teamate came through in about 12 position. I made my way through the transition zone and it was game on. Not knowing who I was racing and already being in 12th place on the bike I just tried to pass as many people as I could. When I came through the first lap I was with two other riders. I heard the announcer say "here is your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place riders." Thinking I was in one of the top 3 positions I knew I had to try and catch the first place rider. Just out of the start/finish area I saw a rider twisting through the singletrack. I put in a massive effort and pulled him in in no time. After passing him I kept the gas on. When I finished and my runner started his second lap I knew we were in good position to maybe win this thing. With less than half a mile to go in the run my friend was passed by the guy I had beat in the bike leg. Damn. We lost the overall by 25 seconds, but did win the team classification by about 3 minutes. Not bad for my first duathalon.

Race number 3 was just this past weekend and it was the third race in the M.A.S.S series. Escape from Gragonue is definately a classic. The race itself is going on 10 years old (if not older). There is a Cyclocross race at the same location in December that attracts a huge crowd as well. The course is on private land owned by one of the Dupont's. It's completely closed off to riding throughout the year except for the 2 days they allow the races to run. The course is best described as a mix of classic East Coast riding conditions. A mix of mud, roots, rocks and everything else you can imagine in a 7 mile lap. We did 3 laps and couldn't ask for better weather. Adding to the fun of this course was having Jeff and Mike from the team come up from Virginia and Maryland to take part.

The start for me this time was much better that the Fairhill race. I won't lie, I practiced. The start was fast and I got into the top 10 into the single track. Then the dicing began. I had a guy chopping my lines and diving to the inside corners on all turns and I was on the inside already. I figured, after I put a wheel wrong and fell, I had to pass this guy in order to make up some time on the leaders. We came out to a freshly plowed false flat type of field section where I made my move and took care of the line chopper for the rest of the race. I passed 2 more guys and eventually finished up for the day in 7th. Gunnar on our team finished up 8th. Jeff pulled a top 5 finishing in 4th and Mike finished in 15th. A good day all around.

Next up on my agenda will be the Greenbrier Classic in Hagerstown, Md. It's a race I look foward to not just for the great course, but seeing the friends I don't get to see on a regular weekend basis. It's also a qualifer for the National Championships. So hopefully it will be a win-win weekend. So, until that post with stories from the trenches keep the rubber side down and be safe....Scottie

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