I did almost the entire mountain season last year for the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Being gone Friday through Sunday was a huge time commitment but it was completely worth it. I had so much fun and stayed in reasonably good shape. I had multiple 2nds and 3nds in the XC and "A" short track races but I never squeezed out a win. Because I skipped a weekend and had a DNF, I ended up 4th overall for the Endurance Omnium and 7th/71 overall. To cap it all off, I headed out to Collegiate Nationals in New Mexico Halloween weekend. This trip meant being gone from school Wednesday afternoon through Monday, but again, it was 100% worth it. Never had I raced at altitude (8600' - 10,000' on the XC course) but I didn't really notice the thin air and I don't think it had a huge impact on my result. After a long (!!!) climb (which became a hike a bike with the snow/mud) there was a SWEET flowing downhill, which was AWESOME to absolutely shred. I was able to bring back many people on that downhill since many were a little unfamiliar with mud. I ended up 25th/81 in the XC and not so hot in the short track.
After collegiate season, riding time went down along with my fitness. We had a very mild winter, conducive to riding, however, due to being in the library all day, I was unable to take advantage of the prime conditions. I did my first road race(s) at West Point Military Academy in the spring with decent results.
This past weekend, I lined up for Domnarski Farm after a full day of rain. DF is known as an old school, true mountain bike course for good reason. Rocks, rocks everywhere! And mud, lots of mud! And 1000' of climbing per lap. I did quite a bit of riding after the Weeping Willow, so I felt more prepared, but come race day, I was feeling sluggish and out of it. For an hour and a half, Rick Nelson returned a favor from last year and towed me around the course at a steady pace, pacing me well and helping me gain some confidence. With half an hour to go (half a lap), I took the lead. I didn't mean to attack, but I guess I picked up the pace and dropped him fairly quickly. I then worked on catching the next elite guy ahead, which was successful. In the end I finished 14th/20 starters. Although the result may look about the same, I shrunk my time back from a few others who also did the Weeping Willow. Yes, it was a shorter race, but there is no denying that a 3.5 minute gap is much better than a nine minute gap. Another great race and thankfully, my bike worked phenomenally on a course where people were double, even triple flatting, destroying wheels and having all sorts of problems. I ran 20 psi front and rear with no troubles at all thanks to my Stan's 355 rims, now in their 3rd season!
Pictures, as always are hard to come by. But, if they surface, I will update this.
credit: J.DomnarskiThanks for reading!