I'm going to take a little break from my last minute cram fest for my last final exams ever....yeah, that's right...ever...and do a little update of the scoarcher down south. Santa Ynez valley this past weekend was the third stop on the NMBS series tour. It's a neat little hot and dry wine growing region about an hour inland from the lush Santa Barbara coast. The race is on some private land out literally in the middle of a field, and for the weekend it's total tent city. The cross country course was very similar to last year, lots of climbing, nothing really technical, fast corners...but this year was super stellar hot and really, really rough.
Off the start I got in a great position, fifth behind the three luna girls and Trek/VW girl Lea Davidson. Georgia was at the front pushing the pace hard and I held on for as long as I though was smart and decided due to the fact that I do so well in heat (not really), I decided it would be in my best interested, not only for racing but for self preservation, that I back it off a couple gears. It was probably a really smart decision, although I lost a bunch of spots in the first lap, I managed to finish very strong and move my way back up to 5th place on the last lap....first NMBS podium ever!!!!
I think this was more a race of attrition and staying a cool and hydrated as possible, then you know, actually hammering out as hard as you could. Not even 20 minutes into the race I started getting the chills, and no word of a lie, I though my brain was melting and my eye balls were burning. The ice down the bra, in the helmet, down pants and anywhere else it would stay was key for the start. And there was a greek god on course (I think I was hullicinating though..because now that I think about it, he wasn't greek) with enough cold water bottles to splash every rider going by on one of the big exposed climbs, I'm sure he got more than just my marriage proposal that day. A couple girls stopped to take their insoles out because their feet were burning up, many gloves were shed, myself included was riding superman style with jersey completely open, and North America's top racer got carted off in an ambulance after passing out on course (she's recovering very well)....it was crazy.
After an amazingly uncomfortable but incredible ice bath, lots of stretching and rehydrating, and a great nights sleep, I got up early Sunday morning and joined Catharine and the rest of the luna crew for a cool morning ride and a great coffee. There are some really neat roads in the region and I'd love to be able to spend some more time riding around and exploring...may have to do a training camp here sometime.
Sunday was the short track, which ran on the start and finish of the xc course. Due to the heat the organizers were very gracious and cut the race to 15 minutes plus 3 laps. I had a great start again today and spent the entire race in the top 5. With 4 laps to go, Katerina made a jump up the only little hill, and somehow I totally saw it coming and reacted, managing to grab her wheel and sit for a lap behind her. I guess for a brief moment there was a couple bike length gap between myself and the chase of Catharine, Kelli Emmit and Heather Irmiger, but they closed that gap and we all sat on her wheel until she attacked again on the same climb. This time I managed to hold her wheel up the climb again, but couldn't stay with her as she powered away on the flat..crazy. She stayed just out of our reach for the rest of the race, and it came down to a four person sprint for second. Coming out of the last corner, I was sitting at the back of the train in 5th and little gap had opened up between 3rd and 4th. I managed to outsprint Catharine for 4th, but couldn't close the gap on Kelli and Heather...happy with two podiums in a weekend.
I have a big thanks to Zack and the Trek team for letting me crash them this weekend, to Steve Blick for hooking me up with some really nice new shades (one of which I'm sporting in the action shot), and Shimano's Greg Hammond for the wheel help.
Now back to cramming...then Thursday I fly to Montreal for the next two Canada Cups.