Barry Wicks takes on Xterras

The following was a from Barry from two weekends ago:

Today marked my first foray into the world of off road triathlon at the Xterra Del Valle outside Livermore California. The idea of doing an Xterra began forming in my head during the cold winter months in Chicago as I ran and swam my way into some form of fitness while the blizzards raged outside. I have limited experiance in triathlons, competing in a few road sprint triathlons in high school, and also a decsent swimming background as I was the district champion in the 200 meter freestyle race my senior year. Even with this I had no idea of what to really expect going into this event. Dusty had dialed in my Hei Hei 29 during Seaotter so I pulled it out of the quiver and headed for California. Doing a race solo without support reminded me of the early days of my mtb career but nostalgia aside I definatly appreciate having someone around at events to help out.

I arrived mid day on Friday and set about assembling my bike and getting things ready for a preride. I did a nice loop on the multilap mtb course and after a quick snack headed out on the bike to check out the run course. It was totally fucked up. I had been doing some cross training leading up to the event and was confidant in my swim, but not so much for the run. After seeing what was in store for me during this final leg of the race I really began to worry. I’m not sure if you know this or not, but Illinois is totaaly flat. Flat like the only hill is in a parking garage or highway overpass. This run was not flat. I was worried after the first km, but then things got really nasty. We made a right hand turn off a trail next to a river a basically ran straight up the side if a mountain. Not sweet. I decided that instead of doing a short run to get my legs moving I needed to go straight to the hotel and go to bed.

I awoke early the next morning to the fog lifting off the surrounding hillsides revealing massive wind farm project on the hill sides all around me. I arrived early to the race, hit all my gear positioned in the tradition zone took 3 shits and about 15 piss stops then struggled into my wetsuit and lined up with 150 other eager dorks.

Xterras are mass start, and I suggest looking one up on youtube so you can witness for yourself the mad chaos involved with 150 crazed triathlete all gunning for the same bouy floating 250 away. Luckily I had checked those videos out so I lined up at the front and pinned it. I kept with the front runners for the first third of the race, but then backed it off a tiny bit so my head wouldn’t explode. I came out if the water in 7th position, with the first few guys exiting the transition as I entered it. I strapped on my helmet shoes and gloves and was off like a prom dress.

My race plan was to get as much of a lead as possible on the bike, so that when the run came I could struggle through and have a nice cushion for massive failure. I quickly bought the guys who had been better fish than me and put my head down and went for it. At the end of lap one I was 8 min clear of second place. I kept it rolling, but at a critical junture a combination of bad planning on my part and bad marshalling and the marshals part send me out on a 7 mile detour that I didn’t have to do. I did not realize that I had made an error until I was in the transition zone and saw a couple of other guts in there as well. Shit! I soldered on though, having no idea where I was in placings but determined to at least put in a solid run effort. My legs felt surprisingly good, and I quickly pulled away from the guys I had started the run with. I even managed to get up the retardedly steep hill without passing out, but made the error of trying to freewheel the ensuing massive descent in order to make up some time, but my right hamstring was having none of it and cramped massivley about half way down. I pulled over to stretch it and two or three guys got past me while took a piss and tried to get rolling again. Luckily I did and was able to regain one of those list spits and had the others in site by the finish.

I ended up placing 6th overall just over 4 minutes off the winning time. After riding 6 more miles than the winner though I am fairly certain had I not gone wrong on the race course my margin if victory would have been substantial. Turns out the hiccups were fixed and Barry came first.

As I type this out on my iPhone I am laying on the bed in my hotel room in my underwear afraid to get up lest my legs cramp up so badly I am stuck in the floor all night and miss my flight home in the morning.

So, a successful and fun go at Xterra racing, somhingt thing to think about for the future. The Xterra world championships are in October in Hawaii, and the winner gets $25,000… I might have to think about that pretty hard!

Until next time, thanks to everyone who supports me in the endevors and next up, a MTB at Lance’s ranch. Hope he shows up so we can show how real mountain bikes do it!

Barry
Thanks to Lisa Krauss and Dan Higashi for the photos.