Thursday, July 23, 2009

Colin and Andy report on Nationals

This past weekend brought the Kenda-Tomac-Hayes riders to Sol Vista, CO for one of their most important races of the year, Mountain Bike National Championships. The past two years, National Championships have been held in Mount Snow, VT and East Coast riders who excelled at the muddy, rooty, riding also excelled at the race. Being that all of the Kenda-Tomac-Hayes riders live at altitude in the Rocky Mountains I think that we were all happy to have Nationals return to the dusty, long-climb, high-elevation West.

The first race of the weekend was the Under-23 (U23) National Championship race. It was Colin's last year as a U23 rider and he was racing near where he competed in his first ever mountain bike race so I think he was looking to put his stamp on the race. And he certainly did that. Colin took the lead early in the race and never looked back. I'll let him tell it:

"Having been 2nd and three times 3rd place at Mountain Bike National Championships, I was anxious to get a win. This year, preparation and good fortune were on my side, and I held a small gap over Rob Squire to win the U23 National Championship. As a Colorado native, I love long aerobic climbs and was able to stretch my gap each lap on the course’s long lone climb. Rob would reel me in a little each descent, which kept the race exciting and stressful right until the finish. I remember reaching the top of the final downhill with a comfortable gap and vowing to ride a safe and smooth descent. Seconds later, I washed out my front wheel in a corner and went sailing over the bars. Fortunately my bike was unharmed, and I jumped back on with so much adrenaline that I didn’t notice my skewed handlebars or the rock lodged in the front of my helmet. I can say with confidence that the final switchbacks and finishing straightaway of the course were some of the most fun bits of bike riding I have ever done. On the one hand, riding well was so much fun that I immediately get motivated future races. On the other hand, winning nationals makes me think back on all the support that has gotten me to this point. Great family, coaches and friends, and exceptional support from USA Cycling and great companies like Kenda, Tomac, and Hayes, and Hammer have made it possible to pursue this dream. "

So Kenda-Tomac-Hayes has a National Champion on their team. I've attached a couple of photos of Colin. I think red, white, and blue are his colors.

Saturday was the elite men's and women's cross country race. It was a tough course with a long, sustained climb and a rough and dusty descent. Zephanie was the best finisher for our women with an 11th place finish. In the men's race I battled for 4th and 5th all day but in the end the race was one lap too long for me and I had to settle for 6th.

Sunday we all woke up with sore legs and bodies from digging deep and/or crashing yesterday but we all saddled back up and competed in the short track race. It was a very atypical short track course. Generally in a short track you never have to leave your big ring and there might be a really short, steep climb to contend with. We faced a course that went straight up a ski hill run and came straight back down. It was by far the longest climb I had ever seen in a short track. Again, Zeph was the best finisher for the women with a solid 10th place. In the men's race I finished 8th and Colin was 10th.

I have compiled some links to some media coverage. To read about Colin's U23 victory you can check out VeloNews and Cyclingnews. You can see photos here and here and watch videos here and here. Here's a good picture of Heather in the XC race. There is a mention of the battle I was having with my brother in the XC race here and an interesting article in VeloNews that points out that almost all of the top ten racer's in the men's race were on bikes other than the traditional 26-in hardtail. There is also a photo here and a video here. There are some good photos of the STXC here, here, here, here, and here.

I'm sure I've missed a bunch more coverage and there will be more coverage in print, so keep your eyes peeled.

All in all, it was a great weekend. All the team riders would like to thank Chris Magerl and Nate Carey for their tireless work to make sure we had clean and perfectly working bikes and were well fed during our races. Also, a big thanks goes out to all of our sponsors who provide us with some of the best equipment on the market. We couldn't do it without you.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, July 6, 2009

Colins Report from Marathon Championships

With cross-country nationals coming up in Sol Vista, CO, racers are scrambling to get used to riding at 9,000 feet. Fortunately for me, Boulder, CO is pretty high already and also has easy access to the super high riding and racing that we’ll have to deal with at nationals. My past two races—a cross-country race in Winter Park and the Marathon National Championships in Breckenridge, CO last weekend—were perfect preparation.

My first mountain bike races ever were at Winter Park, and the series is still one of my favorites. It’s an easy day-trip from home, and I’m almost guaranteed that my Small Block Eight tires will be the ticket on Winter Park’s fast and dry trails. These races attract strong fields from the Front Range, but they also have a super laid back feel. This time, I felt great and was content with a second place finish to Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski.

With a marathon stars and stripes jersey at stake and a cross-country nationals at altitude looming, this year’s Firecracker 50 attracted a strong field including teammates Amanda Carey, Heather Holmes, and Andy Schultz. In the men’s race, Andy immediately jumped into the front group with JHK and Garmin roadie Pete Stetina on the first long road climb. This was justification for me to let Jeremiah Bishop and Dave Wiens do the bulk of the pace making, though there isn’t much “sitting in” to be had on a climb at altitude. Towards the top, I recognized that familiar tingly arm-sensation and taste of iron that one gets when going hard in the high country, and I tried to settle in to a more sustainable pace.

I’m not whether I didn’t feel great or whether the demands of that race are just so great, but it took everything I had to stay in it mentally. Ultimately, I crossed the line in 5th, which was my first podium at an elite nationals and great day of HARD training for nationals. Heather took 5th in the women’s race, Andy was 6th, and Amanda took a solid 7th despite a flat tire. Despite Breck’s bumpy trails, we all rode Tomac hardtails, which I think contributed to a good day for Kenda/Tomac/Hayes for the simple fact that they’re so light.

Now it’s a matter of staying healthy and fit in the final lead-up to nationals. After that, it’s back to sea level for the Canadian World Cups and the Mt. Snow, VT and Windham, NY US Cups.

Thanks for reading!