Emily and I commenced the arduous journey from Colorado Springs to Missoula Mt on Tuesday before the race. We made it up to billings the first day and then finished up on Wednesday only to come into town amid 50 degree weather and heavy rain. Needless to say we opted out of riding, which was a bummer. I needed a spin after being immobile in the car for the last two days.
Thursday morning we headed up to the venue to set up our trailer for the weekend. We were the first ones up there, which meant we got the first pick.
After setting up we kitted up in Voler Apparel clad and hit the course. The recent rain helped out a bunch and made the course fast and tacky instead of dusty like it was last year. Emily and I took advantage of the small amount of course traffic and threw together a preview video…
After riding we headed back to Steve Zellmer’s, our host house man for the last 3 years now, for some lunch before picking up Sepp and Shayna at the airport.
They arrived without a hitch, built bikes, and went for a spin. Then we all pitched in for home made tacos.
With Short track not until 9pm on Friday night we had a whole day to kill! We woke up and slowly got ready to head out for a spin with Keegan and Russell up into Rattle Snake national forest. Then after riding some mint, legendary, single track we headed into town for a coffee at Le Petit Outre, second favorite coffee shop… In the world! They make bomb cappuccinos and have really good bread, pastries, and cool hands sticking out of the ground in their shop!
Back to the house to chill for the afternoon before heading up to the venue to get ready for STXC.
The girls were first… They implemented a new format of racing where the short track progressed in an eliminator style format, which meant every lap after the first three a couple riders would be pulled until there were 6 (for the women’s race) remaining. Emily missed the front group selection by a hare and rode the rest of the race in no mans land. Shayna wasn’t far behind Emily and the two finished, Emily 10th, Shayna 12th.
Sepp and I lined up next. A lot of the top guys were sandbagging the STXC and not racing, maybe to save their legs for xc? Regardless, the race was still fast! I made the front group selection and managed to stay in it for 10min. I eventually came off the pace and rode the fade train back to 12th (which is when they stopped pulling riders). With a free pass on not getting pulled I tried my best to stay in some of the smaller groups but my lungs weren’t having it. By the end of the race my lungs felt like they were splitting open and I felt like I had worked hard enough to have soloed the last 5min of the race for the win. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Sepp had an unfortunate incident at the start where he broke his chain. In KMC’s defense the chain hadn’t been changed since the beginning of the season and Sepp usually starts out a STXC putting out 5k watts… Ergo it was just a matter of time.
Sepp and I rode back with Steve over Jumbo mountain saddle and managed to catch an incredibly picturesque sunset. It made me almost appreciate racing so late… Almost.
The rest of the night was spent trying to go to sleep, which was a bit difficult with humming bird heart and caffeine Clif Shots still lingering in my system.
Luckily, we raced late again on Saturday so we slept in to our hearts desire. We woke up and spun into town again to check out the local farmers market and hang out at Le Petit Outre again.
The girls and I headed up to the race course at 2pm for their 4pm race. The sun was out in full force and even border line hot! I was on feedzone duty, as well as Steve’s awesome daughter Claire who volunteered to help out.
Emily and Shayna both had good starts but fell back to 15th by the start of the second lap. Shayna managed to push through the race and move up to 12th while Emily was maintaining for a bit but faded towards the end of the race and landed in 17th. Both had good races against a strong field and a tough course.
Sepp and I tee up against a very stacked field at 7pm for the start.
The start was wide open, which was good for Sepp who didn’t have a great call up but managed to move his way up. The first lap wasn’t as stifling as I expected but it was fast and stayed fast. I fell off the pace and settled into a spot at 15th. Sepp was just up ahead of me with a group fighting for a spot just outside of the top ten. Throughout the race some guys from the back started coming on while I maintained but got pushed back to 18th. Sepp was racing very strong until the last lap when the wheels came off and he ended up 22nd.
After racing and cooling down we started breaking down our venue spot and then headed back home to clean up before dinner and the Big Dipper (ice cream) for dessert. I think the Big Dipper was more anticipated by everyone that raced more so than racing itself. It proved to be worth it and we went as a team with Steve tagging along. We met a bunch of other racers there and reminisced about the endured pain of the earlier race. The only thing I could think about was how strangely, uniquely, oddly, genuine, and tasty my maple cayenne flavor was.
We called it a night without experiencing the great night life that Missoula has to offer in hopes of waking up early to get a ride in and start the long journey to the springs.
Steve took us out at 9:30am for an hour spin, which he had us all strung out and suffering on. He was then going out for another 3hrs of gravel road grinding afterwards so I hope we wore him down some, but I doubt it.
We hit the road around 12 and trucked it all the way to Casper, Wy. Then finished up the drive on Monday morning and just like that we were back in Colorado Springs. Time to rest up and get ready for XC on Saturday and STXC on Sunday! The last round of the US Cup! WOOT!