There has been a big race every weekend for the last 4 weeks, and it has the dual effect of stretching and compressing time. The two days at each event feel like a week, and the weeks between fly by faster than weekends. Last weekend's National Championships held in Sun Valley, Idaho was the high point of the domestic season. What a difference a season makes for goals and expectations! Last year I hoped for at least a top 10 result and was elated with a 7th place finish. This year I had my sights set on a podium (top 5!). We were a few 1000' lower compared to last year's course in Granby, CO, but the climb straight up the ski slope bumped up the difficulty factor to somewhere around 11! Barry, Alice and I got in a practice lap on Friday night and laughed at the idea of doing the climb 6 times at race pace.
I came into the weekend with quite a bit of self-imposed pressure to perform well and (at least) do as well as I had done in 2010. With the hard climb and moderate altitude, I knew I had a good chance at riding well, but also, as with any race, a chance for some mishap. Standing on the front row at the start, I hadn't had the jitters that bad since state champ track meets in high school. I put the mental tension to good use by getting the whole shot and leading the field up the first part of the climb! It was a short moment of glory, but good enough for a photo:
Dave Macelwaine, Trailwatch.net
I slipped a bit on the first of six laps, but thereafter rode a strong and steady race to repeat last year's performance, finishing 7th. Barry rode a strong race as well and finished 10th, his second win in two weekends after winning the BC Bike Race with Kris Sneddon. A solid day for Kona, with both of us in the Top-10.
At the moment I'm about to hit the road to Missoula, Montana for the last stop of the Pro XCT and the last of the 5-week race block. I'll put together a good recap of the last month+ worth of racing. In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying their summer... even if you live in Seattle.
Thanks for reading.