Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March 2012 Top Four

In somewhat chronological order, and not necessarily in order of significance, here is a rundown of the top-4 events in March which have made for a great start to the 2012 race season:

1. The Olympic Campaign officially kicks off! - A Top-10 at the US Season Opener in Texas! 
Photo Credit: Jake Orness -

2. Coming from dead last to finish on the lead lap and 5th American in the World Cup opener in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa 

Photo Credit Colin Meagher
This doesn't usually happen while racing in the US...but it's normal for the back end of a World Cup
3. ...oh yeah...getting to travel to South Africa!!!
With a stopover in Dubai! - Flight Itinerary - Seattle to Dubai (14hrs); Dubai to Durban (9hrs)
This is actually all I saw of the real Dubai...from the terminal...
The Dubai International Hotel in Terminal 3 - rest between flights
And finally to Pietermaritzburg, where the town welcomed the World Cup with a big banner downtown
Signs posted throughout town

Met up with Kona DH teammates Mitch Delfs and Connor Fearon

And super-mechanic Mathieu Dupelle

The Midlands! -The green hills of the KwaZulu-Natal province 

Gate to a private game preserve...they had some 18 spots available
4. Some great training back home in the PNW! - just as most plants grow best in their native environments, home is the best place to recharge and train between big events

Sarah and I ventured out for a weekend on the Olympic Peninsula

Checking out the trails at Dry Hill for some gravity practice

self-powered shuttle...the Entourage actually climbs pretty backcountry touring on a power day
Who says XC guys only ever wear spandex?

snow and muddd
post 10,000'+ vert day - Thanks to Lars Sternberg and the Transition DH crew for letting us tag along for some runs!

Kona bikes look best when well-loved

and back to the skinny tires for the rest of the weekend

Awesome ride from Port Angeles to Cape Flattery on Hwy 112

...the end of the road to Cape Flattery

...up next...the Olympic campaign continues with World Cup #2 in Houffalize, Belgium - April 9-16...then the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, CA - April 19-22

thanks for reading

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mellow Johnny's Classic 2012

The first test of the 2012 season - the Mellow Johnny's Classic down in Texas!  

The first big race of the season is always exiting, but this year, an Olympic year, made the vibe much more palpable.  All of North America’s big hitters in cross country mountain biking showed up in Texas for the first round of the Pro XCT.  It was great to reunite with so many members of the traveling MTB circus. 

Teammate Kris Sneddon and I were proudly representing for Kona amongst the 70+ elite racers who lined up on Saturday’s XC event – 5 laps on a frenetic, rocky course at the Flat Creek Ranch in Texas hill country.  I lined up front row and soaked in a bit of the moment before the gun went off…poised next to the best racers in North America…Adam Craig, Geoff Kabush, Todd Wells, Sam Schultz, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Max Plaxton, Derek Zandstra, Jeremiah Bishop…all of us on a quest for the Summer Olympics in August.  Everyone had brought their A-Game.  This season would start faster and harder than any I had ever done.     

Enough thinking though!  
Down to business!   


And it did...!

(me far left) 

We blasted off down the dusty start-loop.  I was a bit wide on the start stretch and missed the wholeshot, but blitzed into a spot in the top-10 and stuck on the lead group into the first singletrack.  The engine felt powerful on all of the climbs, though I felt a bit inefficient carrying speed through the jagged rock sections, losing seconds here and there.  For the majority of the race I was in the mix with a small group riding for 7th, with 5th and 6th bobbing and weaving through the brush not far ahead.  Going into the last lap, sitting 8th behind JHK, Adam Craig (who had flatted on the first lap) surged through (with probably the ride of the day, having come from 37th place!).  I stuck to his wheel on the climbs, which was motivating for me…until I heard a hiss coming from my back tire…and willed the Stans sealant to fill it up…still hissin…quick stop to put in some air before a hard-charging chase group caught me…and cranked into the finish in a respectable 9th

By my historical standards, this the BEST start to any season I have had – I've never finished this high up in the first race of the season, not to mention placing this well against the top North American racers, all of whom are faster this year on account of their Olympic prep.  So, overall, I'm PUMPED!

By my upgraded standards, however, I was hoping for a bit better...a top 7, or at least the 3rd or 4th American.  Still, I feel confident that my preparations have been excellent, and that I demonstrated my form by keeping in the mix for the entire (albeit SHORT) race.   

One more week of fine-tuning at home before leaving for the first World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Stay tuned!  Thanks for reading.