The Bonelli Pro XCT weekend went off well enough and all things considered, I’m happy with how these first two race weekends have gone. Going into Bonelli I knew the racing would be a little different since the usual front row would not be here due to the World Cup going on in South Africa. The racing was sure to be just as fast, but I hoped to find myself closer to the front end of the race. I did for much of the first lap until a dropped chain forced a quick, but untimely dismount to fix things. The stop took all of three seconds, but in that time I went from 12th or so back to 18th. Instead of tailing the lead group, this meant that I was now tailing the second group and by the time I regained those positions eleven guys were clear and I was riding in no-mans-land for the entirety of the race. I could occasionally see riders ahead and also behind me, but the gaps never changed too much. On the last lap I was able to pick off one rider who was fading to secure 11th. Given that I rode solo for the entire race I was pleased with the effort I was able to do.
Just a couple hours after the XC we raced the Super D. Fortunately I had made some chicken fried rice ahead of time so that helped me to recover and get ready for this second event. All was going fast until 1/3 of the way up the final climb on the five and a half minute long course when I had the appropriately named KMC ‘MissingLink’ come off my bike. Luckily I didn’t crash and I rolled to a stop. At first I thought that I had broken the chain, but a quick inspection revealed that the MissingLink had simply gone missing. I wasn’t shifting when it failed, only going up the climb while pedaling out of the saddle. Rather than walking into the finish I looked around in the dirt for five minutes or so and actually found both sides of the link. They looked fine (enough) so I put the chain back together and soft pedaled it back to the finish (and eventually back to the motel since I rode to the venue). The Super D was obviously a disappointment, but there was still short track and one more shot at a good, clean race.
With a front row call up the STXC got off to a great start, nearly stress free relative to the usual chaos that happens further back. I rode amongst the front three for the first few laps and was comfortable doing so. Things slowed up for a brief moment and rather than going towards the front I took the chance to breathe a little extra. This was the wrong decision since everyone else moved forward and I was shuffled further back in the group. From here the pace stayed steady hard, but from the back end of the group there was much more braking and accelerating. Speeds were high enough that moving up was very challenging to do and eventually I popped as a result of the effort. Finishing 16th wasn’t what I had in mind, but at least I reminded myself how important the battle for positioning is – yes, even in mtb racing.
I did the drive to/from San Dimas solo, but while there it was great to hang out with the AZ Devo team. I think that they had fifteen racers out there and I had a far louder cheering section than anyone else. Things as simple as a chair to sit in and a floor pump to use at the venue, or a reliable hand in the feed zone are so often hard to come by, but AZ Devo helped in a big way. Their presence at the race eased a lot of the typical stresses that I would typically have and it was great to see them all having fun and racing fast too. I can’t say thanks enough for Marty’s help out there and for all of the work that’s gone into making the AZ Devo programs one of the best.
The new race bike is about 100% built up and I’m waiting for the arrival of a Quarq BB30 powermeter to complete the build on my Niner Air 9 RDO. I’m excited to be back on a hardtail 29er and this ought to be the lightest/fastest race bike yet. I’ll do a proper update once it’s complete, but for now I’ll give you a teaser with this crankless photo.