USAC XC National Championship Race at Mammoth Lakes, California post-race report:
I made my way out to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Mammoth Lakes, California last week for the USAC Cross Country National Championship Race. I had no delusions of competing for the title, especially considering the injuries and consequential lack of training over the last 3 months. But in the end, this was about the experience and doing the best I could do.
The course: USAC set up a very challenging course without it being overly technical in nature. The start finish area is at approximately 8300’ elevation. Each lap consisted of about 5.5 miles and nearly 1100’ of climbing. The first 3.75 miles were basically climbing, either on steep fire road sections or more gradual single track sections. The last 1.7 miles were mostly downhill: steep, twisty, very ‘pitted’ from heavy braking, and very very FAST!
Lap 1: Race day was the hottest day of the week and my start time was 3:10pm. Temps were in the upper 80’s, but the humidity was virtually ‘zero’, so it didn’t bother me much. I started out a bit faster than I probably should have, but quickly realized where my position in the race would likely be. The group splintered quickly into several smaller groups of riders. I settled in on the first climb with a group of 6 other riders. By the time we hit the 2-mile mark, I started to feel like I was working too hard, especially considering how much climbing I had left to do over 4 laps. I had to pull back a bit and lost contact with most of that group. I took advantage of the downhill as much as I could and pulled back a bit of time. Lap time – 30:47
Lap 2: I definitely felt the effects of pushing too hard on the first lap. I had to pull back again for a bit of the climbing to gather myself for the remainder of the race. I started feeling better toward the middle of the lap and gained a couple of positions back. I was also getting more and more comfortable with the downhill, not typically a strength of mine for sure. Lap time – 33:51
Lap 3: Almost immediately at the start of lap 3 I was beginning to feel some cramps in my left calf. I dropped the pace again just a bit to make sure I was applying a proper peddling motion while I took an energy shot and drank more water. The race suddenly became more about survival and cramp prevention. I managed the lap fairly well and heard the announcer proclaim I was holding the 20th position as I completed the lap. Lap time – 36:02
Lap 4: At this point in the race, my goal was to simply hold my 20th position. Still feeling like my legs could ‘pop’ at any time, I took another energy shot and remained cautious for the climbing portion of the final lap. I had to continuously massage my calves and quads while pedaling up the steep fire roads. I fought my way to the top of the climbs, let out a big sigh of relief and took the final downhill as fast as I could. I was able to hold my 20th position at the finish line. Lap time – 37:05
Race Stats: 21.89 miles, 2 hours 17 minutes, 4,300’ of climbing….
A huge thank you to Prologue Racing sponsors for helping me complete this goal: RideBiker Alliance, Swiftwick Socks, Bike America KC, Rudy Project North America, Gaerne Cycling Shoes, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Crank Brothers, Life Balance Sports & Wellness, Smiles by Design, Joclyne Rivard Properties, and Vancebikelawyer!
Photos courtesy of PB Creative Photo