XTERRA Mountain Championships -Beaver Creek
DISTANCES: 1500 meter swim, 15.5 mile mountain bike (3,600 feet elevation gain), 5.75 mile run (1,300ft elevation gain)
PRODUCTS USED: Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit and goggles, Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper 29er, Roval carbon wheels, Fast Trak and Renegade tires, Rudy Project Noyz glasses and helmet, GU Roctane and Brew, Avia Avi Bolt racing flats, Squadra race suit.
“Welcome to the Beaver” – That’s really what they say when you drive up to the gated high-end ski resort. Rumor is there’s also a Beaver Liquors in town. Anyway I’ll leave the beaver jokes at that.
This is one of the toughest courses in XTERRA, not just because of all the climbing, 3600 feet, most of which is in the first four miles of the mountain bike but because it’s at high elevation, starting around 8000 ft. Which is high for me and I live at altitude.
After thinking I was having a sub-par swim, for the first time this season I came out of the water where I wanted to be, with a pack of women and only ‘Big Fish” out in front. I attribute this to a few things, a good chunk of time (about a month) to get consistent swim training in, the water being about 4 degrees cooler this year, and I swimming in my Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit, a great fitting suit for me, mobility and not too thick in the arms.
The bike, or the hill is a tough one to gauge, you can’t exactly go all out at 9000 feet but you also have to go hard because it’s a race. My initial plan was to stay out of the red on the intial 4 mile climb and then push it hard but I kind of forgot there wasn’t a whole lot after that. An age group guy I was chatting to after the race who asked me if I was ‘riding easy’ I’m going to take this as ‘you weren’t breathing hard’ as opposed to ‘you weren’t going very fast.’ Either way, this is my third time doing this race and was the least amount of pain I felt.
Had one OTB on the bike when I lost my focus for a second (I was thinking about points!) twisting my handlebars. Lost a little more time unsuccessfully trying to fix them before the final descent to T2. But I can’t hand out too many excuses for not doing better on the bike, after all Todd Wells won the US Mountain Bike Nationals that same day on virtually the same setup, not to mention Mel and Sara who kicked my butt in the bike (Mel was on the new women’s HT 29er the Fate)
I started the run in 5th and that’s where I finished. The run despite being super tough, is actually really pretty when there’s no one around you, singletrack through aspens, wildflowers and high-end homes. I felt strong on the run too, but I wouldn’t say fast. I’m on the tail-end of a running injury (I hope) which means I’m not where I was a month ago with my running and not where I was last year, at least when speed is concerned. But was still fast enough for the 3rd fastest pro split of the day.
Actually I take that back, I had to bust out my fastest 200 in years when I could see an age group guy gunning for me a the finish line. I wasn’t going to let him have it.
I was pleased to find out I knocked a good 5min 30sec of my time from 2010. Conditions were undoubtedly better, weather was cooler, but so was my gear! thanks sponsors for that.
Shonny Vanlandingham won the women’s race for the 3rd time followed by Specialized teammate Melanie Mcquaid, Kelley Cullen, and Sara Tarkington (also Specialized)
Josiah Middaugh won the men’s race followed closely by Seth Wealing, Brian Smith, Nico Lebrun and Branden Rakita.
The result moved me back into 4th place in the US Pro Series (#2 American)
A BIG BIG thanks to the Klosers for letting me stay at their place, Todd with Park City Crash Pads for being my unofficial sponsor for the weekend by lending me a sweet wrapped car so I could actually get to the race. The Jimmy has 190,000+ miles on it, the result of driving to one too many races and, well, needs some work and my amazing sponsors Specialized, Avia, GU, Blue Seventy and Rudy Project and coach Jim Vance.
The XTERRA Pro Series concludes with US Nationals Sept 24, which, lucky for me, is only 60 miles away at Snowbasin.
Thanks for reading!