The few weeks at home after the Asia Pacific XTERRA tour went by in a blink and I was on the road again for the first stop of the US Series tour at the West Championship in Las Vegas. The course hasn’t changed much in the past few years so a couple pre-rides were all that were necessary to get a feel for the looseness of the dirt to get tire pressure dialed. However the light rain the night before tacked up the trail and a few more psi were added to the tires. After a month of racing and withering away in the heat and humidity in the Pacific I welcomed the cool weather the rain brought even with the brisk 57 degree water.
The water stung the face after first jumping in but after a few minutes of moving around I was warm and ready to go. At the blast of the XTERRA cannon I dug deep strokes and used few powerful kicks to get clear of the few people to my sides and sought out the feet of Richard Stannard, whom I knew was going to be setting a fast pace. I just missed finding his feet but was comforted to see that the gap was slow to open and I was moving well as I linked up with Craig on the long straight to the first buoy. After rounding the two far buoys everyone choose their own direction as we headed back to the bridge and the last buoy which we couldn’t see. I followed Craig’s draft for a while before electing to try to go around. That ended up splitting us has he went left under the bridge and I went though the center. At the far buoy and I had a body length on him as we hit the final couple hundred meters to the exit. I exited 3rd about 10 seconds down on Dan and 30 to Richard with Craig and Conrad on my heels.
Charging down the road in no man’s land I settled in to a much better tempo and feeling than I had in the three races in March. I was slowly gaining on Stannard and holding a steady gap to Dan up the first climb when Conrad came by. It felt great to be able to stick to his wheel for a while and my confidence in my riding slowly came back. The gap was slow to open while helping close the gap to Stannard. On the next climb I didn’t feel like I had lost any ground but all of a sudden a gap really opened up to Dan and Conrad. I stuck to my pace knowing Craig would be just behind and Josiah would be charging hard as well. I rode clean through the rest of the lap trying to dodge the sport course racers without slowing down. At the lap I drop my empty bottle and proceeded to dodging amateurs at the tail end of Championship field. It is a bit frustrating for both the pro’s and the amateurs when we come flying through and get to sections where there is no passing room and have to either make some risky maneuvers or slow way down till we can get around. Josiah passed on a longer steep uphill as we weaved through more traffic. About two thirds of the way through the last lap Craig caught up and we traded leads back and forth alternatively yelling to the slower racers ahead that we were coming through. We charged into transition, successfully shoved our numb feet into our respective shoes and took off on the run.
It was a huge confidence boost and helped get me in the right frame of mind that I could push it on the bike. I have five weeks until my next race which is a great amount of time to really get in a good block of work. The next race is a big one as well being the XTERRA Southeast Championship but is also designated at the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships this year as the race in Spain was last year, onward and upward.
Nitty Gritty Details:
Clothing: 2XU Compression Tri top and short
Swim: 2XU V:2 Wetsuit with 2XU silicon cap (extra warmth under race cap), 2XU Comp goggles and 2Toms SportsShield.
Bike: Pro Cycling Specialized Epic Expert Carbon 29er w/Fastraks, 2.2” @ 24psi on the front and 2.0” at 27psi on the rear, Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex sealant 80ml, Sidi Terra, Ergon HX2 glove and GS2 Carbon grips. Rudy Project Windmax helmet w/large visor and Rudy Project Genetyk sunnies w/ImpactX Photochromic clear lens.
Bike Nutrition: 2-20oz bottles of First Endurance EFS Grape and 1 gel.
Run: Colorado Running Company Inov-8 X-Talon 212 with 2Toms BlisterShield and Rudy Project Kylix XY