07 September 2014

XTERRA England

XTERRA England
Race Equipment, Setup & Nutrition
Swim - 2XU Race Goggles, 2XU X:3 Wetsuit
Bike - Pro Cycling SW Epic, Rotor 3D+ SRM w/38-27 Q-Rings
           Effetto Mariposa Sealant in Ground Control 2.3, Front 23psi, Fast Trak 2.2 Rear 27psi.
           Rudy Project Windmax Helmet
           Rudy Project Agon Sunglasses              
Run - Colorado Running Company Trailroc 245

Saving the best for last, the final race of my XTERRA Europe tour was in England and at the Vachery Estate near Cranleigh.  The race went through some turbulent times to be held but thanks to the hard work by Sam Gardner, Richard Stannard and a few local friends, in the weeks leading up they build one hell of a course, and with additional help from Dave Nichols who was helping while attending the other XTERRA European races pulled together a very well organized affair.
I can’t thank Sam, Susan, Abby and Zach enough for the support through the week leading up to the race, with a place to sleep, transportation and food.  I only hope that I helped out some going into the race and didn’t make things harder.
A lot of organizers could learn from what Sam did in creating a great 15km loop course and building and clearing the better part of 10km of those trails in the few weeks leading up to the race.  It was some great technical singletrack that everyone could ride and the faster you went the harder it got.  Unfortunately I did not have the best lead up to the race as a few days out I developed a head cold and had some body aches and wasn’t able to pre-ride as much on the course as I would have liked.  I spent a few days on the couch trying to keep the strength of the cold to a minimum.
Trying to get my 2XU X:3 off with Conrad on my heels as always (Photo Credit Trey Garman/XTERRA)
A number of road guys showed up to try their hand at the off road stuff and it made for a large front pack in the spring fed lake, the water was super clean even through it looked like ice tea and very crisp making for another go with my 2XU X:3 wetsuit.  I followed the same protocol that I had in Czech and Germany and lined up next to Ben Allen and followed his lead out.  I settled in to the group but could tell that I was just a bit off and had only one gear after being a bit under the weather.  I was able to settle in at the tail end of the pack and at the turnaround moved up a few spots only to then notice that a gap had formed and I didn’t have the extra gear to close things down.  I stayed steady on the way back in and hoped to be able to not get caught behind to many guys on the tight singletrack.
Pushing my SRM Power as much as possible on an engine limited day (Photo Trey Garam/XTERRA)
Due to the nature of the start of the bike I elected to put gloves on in transition, as it would be very hard to get them on and into my shoes before the singletrack.  I definitely lost a spot or two and wasn’t able to get on Conrad’s wheel but I was not going to stay there long anyway as I had one gear on the course and there were a lot of pace changes necessary to ride fast and hard on the course.  Not pre-riding definitely my speed on the course but I think my body was holding up better due to the increased rest going into the race.  I worked my way up and past many of the roadies who were
Almost to the run (Photo Trey Garman/XTERRA)
having some problems negotiating the singletrack.  I think worked my way up to about 4th or 5th before some of the good mountain bikers but slower swimmers started to cruise by me and that was when it was really evident I didn’t have that extra gear to stay with them.  I tried to ride smooth and steady on the course but it was really frustrating going along and feeling like I was hauling an anchor behind me.  I did have an absolute blast riding some great trails and that was a welcome change after the last two courses.  I rolled into transition just inside the top 10 and was hoping to hang on.
SRM Powerfile from XTERRA England
The first section of single track is a blast as you hit the first of two water jumps and then immediately have to pick a line around a bog, last year they went straight through it but is was in a bit worse condition this year so they routed us around the edge through some soft mud that if you stepped in the wrong spot you could loose your shoe.  I felt good running but felt like there was a limiter on me and could only move so fast.  I was holding a steady pace but one guy cruised by and there was nothing I could do.  Towards the finish of the two lap run you encounter the second stream crossing and shortly there a log jump, I hadn’t seen this part of the course and chose to go a bit out of my way to run across a log across the stream.  I started the
Last bit in the forest before the field to start the 2nd lap or head to the finish (Photo Trey Garman/XTERRA)
 second lap and got a good idea of how far back the next guys were and knew it would be a hard battle to hold on.  About halfway through the lap I could hear the footsteps behind me but he didn’t make the pass, just as we started a little grinder of a hill.  I knew he pushed hard to get up to me and wanted to rest just, I stuck it to him and pushed the pace up the hill and opened the gap back up.  In the last section of single track through the woods through not seeing it ahead of time cost me and at a muddy section he took a quicker line and at the last water crossing he made the jump while I ran the tree and he was ahead of me.  I pushed but he had better leg
Up and over (Photo Light Trapper.co.uk see others here)
 speed in the end and I came across the line in 12th.  It was a tough way to end the trip not racing at my best but it was what I had in me that day.  I have taken some time to recoup and rest before a little push going into USA Champs that are two weeks away now and then a bigger push into Worlds at the end of October.
Into the field headed for home (Photo Trey Garman/XTERRA)

28 August 2014

ITU Cross Tri World Champs/XTERRA Germany

ITU Cross Tri World Champs/XTERRA Germany
Race Equipment, Setup & Nutrition
Clothing-USAT Supplied National Team Race Suit
Swim - 2XU Race Goggles
Bike - Pro Cycling SW Epic, Rotor 3D+ SRM w/38-27 Q-Rings
           Effetto Mariposa Sealant in Ground Control 2.3, Front 23psi, Fast Trak 2.2 Rear 26psi.
           Rudy Project Windmax Helmet
Run - Colorado Running Company Inov-8 Trailroc 245

The ITU Cross Tri World Champs/XTERRA Germany was the key race for the trip the field was one of the largest pro fields with almost 70 guys including the U23 racers and extremely talented.  Going into the race the big question was the weather it was off and on rain all week and we weren’t exactly sure what the weather would be on race day but when the day arrived it was heavier spots of rain mixed with periods of sun, which made for the wettest and muddiest course possible. 
Having a good laugh with Ben Allen on the line before the start.
Through the rain and cloudy skies leading up to the race the water remained just warm enough to have a non-wetsuit swim which suited me.  As well with the ITU rules governing the race we would get called up according to our world ranking which is based upon the previous years ITU Cross Tri World Champs and I would be called up 10th and slotted in right next to Ben Allen and Ruben Ruzafa which was perfect having a strong swimmer on one side and a weaker swimmer to the other to get out and on to feet immediately and have some open water to the other side.

It worked perfectly as there was a “directional” buoy about 75 yards from the start that we had to turn at to head to the first official turn buoy.  The arms turned over well and I felt very strong cruising in the swim.  In what seems like an automatic Conrad and I were at each other’s side half way through the first lap and I eventually made my way up to the head of the chase pack and back ahead of Ben Allen surprisingly.  There was a small group of 3 in the front then Craig floating in the middle then the group I headed up behind at the end of the first lap, I kept the pressure on trying to bridge to Craig but couldn’t quite do it and exited the water in 5th about 1min to the front and 10-15 sec from Craig but I had Conrad, Ben and Braden Currie all out the water on my feet and a great group to work with on the bike during the first 5k of gradual uphill.
Craig and Faris Al-Sultan headed out and me in the background headed to my bike.
Conrad blew by quickly out of transition and I could not attach myself quick enough to his wheel and was just off him on the first section and I worked as hard as I could to close the small gap.   I pulled Craig back in and Braden went by shortly there after and pulled to the front and we had a good train going up the road.  The legs were feeling better than in Czech but as the climb gradually got steeper Michi Weiss cruised past and Ruben was not far behind, Braden made the jump to Ruben’s wheel but I didn’t.  I continued to head up the climb steadily as they slowly cruised away.
Quite hilarious as Conrad and I seem to have a lot of twin pictures like this where we are doing the same thing.
We then reached the first actual dirt parts and things that actually resembled mountain biking about 9k in to the course and saw how sloppy and muddy the course was after the 500+ amateur athletes had raced on it that morning.  I was very happy to have left the caveman water jug mud flap on the bike from the Czech race the previous week.  Thankfully the mud didn’t stick to the tires that bad and traction wasn’t horrible climbing.  There were slick sections but with some basic maneuvering you could keep going, the first descent it was a quick lesson to stay off the front brake entirely and let the bike skip across the top of the roots and get back in the dirt where the tire would grip.
The train, Braden leads with me on his wheel (10), Craig tucked in there along with another mystery athlete.
The slower you went the longer the front tire would be on a wet slick root and it was easier to go down.  The steepest section was very rooty and rocky and with the wet conditions was unrideable and we were all left hike-a-biking for about 1k then still had a good 2km’s of climbing to the summit.  Once at the peak of the course I hit the downhill hard flying past people taking back a over a minute to some of the guys that had passed me on the climb.  It was difficult maneuvering at times as the race organizers had decided to send the elite women off 20min before the men and we started to catch them before the descent and then was trying to be respectful but still go full on past them on the descent.  Through the rest of the bike it was more of the same flying past guys on the descents and trying to minimize losses on the uphill sections.  Getting off the bike everyone was coated in mud head to toe and nearly unrecognizable but was thankful for the sponges at the start of the run to wipe some of the mud off and get clean drinks of water.
2014 ITU Cross Tri Worlds SRM Powerfile (Wet and muddy course caused issues at times)

I stared the run well and really felt like I was moving well till guys started flying past me again, the legs just didn’t seem to want to turnover.  I was thankful the run was not quite as muddy as the bike, there were a few slick sections but nothing like the bike.  I hit the deck once on at the top of a shallow downhill since I didn’t understand what the volunteers were yelling at me in German that it was very slick mud right where I was headed.  I plugged along until about 7k and that is when the lights went out.  It was an immediate bonk, no warning just all of a sudden I was shuffling along and having a hard time holding a straight line running.  Unfortunately in the rush to set up my transition when the rain started I neglected to put my First Endurance Liquid Shot flask with my shoes and they had only water on the run course and had no way of getting in extra calories.  It was a slow last 2 k losing three minutes from what I would guess and I stumbled across the line in 29th.  It was a very bad end to a marginal day.

27 August 2014


Race Equipment, Setup & Nutrition
Swim - 2XU Race Goggles, 2XU X:3 Wetsuit
Bike - Pro Cycling SW Epic, Rotor 3D+ SRM w/38-27 Q-Rings
           Effetto Mariposa Sealant in Ground Control 2.3, Front 23psi, Ground Control 2.1 Rear 26psi.
           Rudy Project Windmax Helmet
Run - Colorado Running Company Inov-8 Trailroc 245
          1st Endurance Visor

The first of a three race trip to Europe this year started at XTERRA Czech, it has been on my list for a while as the former Czechoslovakia is part of my heritage, however after break up to Czech Republic and Slovakia, my family came from Slovakia.  It is a unique race course as it is the only net downhill bike course that I am aware of on the XTERRA circuit, there are a couple net uphill bike courses with Mountain Champs in Beaver Creek and USA Champs in Ogden.

The swim is in a beautiful lake about 15km from the town of Prachitice, though the water is the color of ice tea it is refresh and clean.  The water temp allowed for the use of my 2XU X:3 wetsuit and I smartly positioned myself next to Ben Allen on the start line and took off trying to hold his and Braden Currie’s feet.  There were two amateurs that started fast as well in the mass start and I was behind the one that started to fade and lost contact with the front three.  Ben got away and had a lead out of the water with Braden second 20 seconds back and I was about 1min back from him.

I started hammering on the bike and felt like I was riding pretty decently until Ruben Ruzafa and Alexander Hass rolled up on me about 8k in to the bike and they were flying.  It was a flatter dirt and road section and I jumped into the draft, then on the next hill though they looked effortless and I felt like I was pushing a tank up the hill.  Josiah cruised by shortly there after in pursuit and the hill was open enough that I could see Ben and Braden just ahead and we had definitely closed the gap down on them.  I was unable to maintain contact with anyone on the hill but kept the pressure on but the legs just weren’t turning over and I didn’t feel like I was producing the power that I have.  On the second half of the course I struggled on the few steep climbs and Jan Kubicek caught me just as we peaked out before a fast traverse on a road before the last descent back to town.  I managed to stay with him using the descents to my advantage but he would slowly creep away on any hills.
Old WWII Pillbox on the bike course, a different one that I didn't know was there till I saw the pic.

One of a couple fun very short fun bits on the bike.
2014 XTERRA Czech SRM Powerfile
We hit T2 together and headed out on the run with a couple other guys right on our heels.  The legs were moving well but the other guys were just a touch quicker out of the gate, Jan and one of the other guys continued to pull away but the third guy was struggling a bit on the uphill but was able to open thing up on the downhill.  I knew that I needed to stay close and make a charge on the second lap of the run on the uphill and get a slight gap.  I slowly closed and was a couple steps behind but just couldn’t get by the last little bit and I couldn’t keep pace on the downhill back into town.  It was a tough struggle and ended up crossing the line in 8th.
Little log jump on the run course.