It has been an eventful summer both on and off the bike! On the bike there has been a lot of exciting riding and racing happening. There were plenty of highs and a few lows. I had some big wins at the Karl’s Kaleidoscope 50 milers and the Iron Mountain 100k. Both of these races attracted riders with much more talent me.
Karl’s is a newer race in the southeast, attracting faster and deeper fields each year. I’ve won this race the past two years and this year I was looking for the hat trick. However it wasn’t going to come easy. With the major climb of the race lasting about twenty minutes and my opponents on ultra light hardtails, I had my work cut out for me. Going into the climb I locked my Hei Hei Deluxe out and started to cover attacks. The goal was to survive the climb and let it rip on the big downhill afterwards.
Both competitors were setting a high tempo in the climb. I was in the red and trying not to show it was not easy. I was able to keep the tempo pretty mild for most of the race by riding up front and controlling the race, but on the double track climb there was nowhere to hide. Lucky I was able to hang on and I was even able to get into the singletrack decent first.
I have my Hei Hei set up on the aggressive side for a pure xc rig and with a 120mm fork leading the way I gave it all I had. I was taking some risk looking for the other guys to make a mistake. By the time I reached the bottom, the other guys were out of sight! There was 15 miles of doubletrack and road left before the finish. I had two choices, wait up and tackle the rest in a pace line and sprint it out or go now and try to time trial it home for the win. The choice was easy, pin it to win it. For the next 15 miles I stared at the front tire trying to keep rhythm while my legs filled lactic acid. Before I knew it I crossed the line with no one in sight. I was stoked!
Moving on, I had high hopes of doing well at the Mohican 100. Leading up I had good form and spirits were high coming off my win at Karl’s. The 7 A.M start went smooth. I was in great position to get the $200 hole shot, but I decided to hold back and focus on the whole race. I should have gone for the hole shot, because by mile thirty I had started to have small cramps. I had made a mistake somewhere in my nutrition causing my body to shut down. I knew I had to back off the pace of the front group if I were to survive the race. For the rest of the race I had to soft pedal and keep positive. It’s hard not to get down on yourself and think about all the money you spent to put yourself in the middle of nowhere, just to suffer for no reason.
So this was the goal for the day, practice staying positive. I got a lot of practice, over 9 hours worth to be exact. Looking back I’m proud for what I was able to do. I had plenty of chances to pull the plug, but stuck it out.
Next up was the Iron Mountain 100k. This was a mountain biker’s course. Its one of the most fun courses I have raced to date. It has long grueling climbs and singletrack that will keep any rider on their toes. Looking at the starting line up I decided I was going to be happy with a top three finish. The field was stacked and confidence was low after the Mohican 100. Starting off up a technical singletrack climb it quickly came down to me and one other rider. We rode for nearly half the race together and then I was able to get some space for the lead on a longer 20-minute climb. I kept the tempo high. The other racer was really strong so I knew I had to keep it on the gas. However not knowing the last half of the course I used up a little too many matches to keep this guy off. I started to crack and cracked hard. I had about 5 miles left when I heard another racer behind me. I was so cracked I thought for sure I was getting second place. However I gave it my all because I knew it was downhill to the finish. With the top in sight I charged hard to hold the guy off and went first into the downhill. Again I let the Hei Hei to its thing and ripped to the finish line in first! I’ll count this as race number two won on the downhill!
Now with the summer half way through I had to settle down and prepare for one of lifes greatest gifts. I was expecting a baby girl in August! I was extremely excited, but with money being tight I have to put racing a hold and put more time into building wheels at Nox Composites and saving up money. This did give more time to have fun on my Hei Hei and worry less about structured training. It was nice to relax and ride for the reason we all ride for, fun! Now it’s October, I’m on diaper duty, I’m also in my last year of school at King University; this means it’s time for collegiate racing. Collegiate racing is always a blast as I get to race downhill and dual slalom as well as put my Super Jake through the paces in cyclocross season.