31 December 2011

Great Opportunity and Starting on the Wrong Foot.

Setting Sun on 2011
As I entered the 2011 season I had a lot of great hope that it would be a great year.  I was the healthiest I had been in the off season and as I started my early season training.  Although the few road triathlons I did were not as successful as I hoped my XTERRA campaign was great.  Top 5 in 5 of the 6 regional championships, 6th at USA Champs, 4th overall in the US Series.  Internationally 8th at the ITU Cross Tri World Championships, 2nd at XTERRA Mexico, 4th XTERRA Canada, unfortunately XTERRA Worlds did not go as well as hoped placing wise but I was closer to champ Michael Weiss than I had been any other year.

I wanted to build on that success and progress in 2011 by focusing on my training and ramping things up going into the 2012 racing season.  In order to do this I decided to head to a location with great weather, a large group of training partners and most importantly an area that has a good mix of good roads and trails to ride and run.  I considered the Scottsdale/Mesa area but didn't know that many people in the area or how the training was and housing was not something that I had set.  San Diego was another option, I was familiar with training, I had a number of friends but Southern Cal is expensive.  My decision was to head to Tucson, a number of athletes call it home through the winter, there are great trails and roads to train on, it is a bit cheaper and fellow triathlete Christine Jeffery has a place that I am very grateful to get to stay at.

My plan was to find a part time job at a local bike shop and come down in early December that way I could learn the roads and trails for a while before getting into the serious training at the beginning of the year.  After a bit of searching and a few things falling through, the trip south was more and more delayed and I made the decision to come down sans work.  The idea for the trip was to get in some great training and that is exactly how I am treating the trip and if I was able to find a bit of work to fill in some gaps.

On the 17th I started my trip down, heading first to Durango to get to spend a couple days with my family.  It was great to spend sometime near the holidays, get some great home cooked meals and we did Christmas a few days early since they were headed to see my Grandma over Christmas.  This trip is entirely possible because of my parents, I couldn't do this without their love and support and I owe them everything.

I continued down to the Phoenix area and stayed with and old college buddy Eric and his family for a night and got in some great training in McDowell Mountain Park.  A close friend was in Mesa for the holidays and she invited me to spend Christmas with her family.  It was great to be around such a loving family since I was not around my own.  Had a lot of fun going to a hockey game, and a few great hikes as well.  I learned some great training areas in the Scottsdale/Mesa area and would definitely keep in in my mind as a place to go.  I was torn on leaving but I needed to get to Tucson since that is where I had things set up and planned on being and headed down a couple days after Christmas.


On Wednesday the 28th I planned on meeting a fellow XTERRA racer for a mountain bike ride to learn some close trails.  As I was driving over to the trail head, I stupidly looked down at my phone for the directions and wasn't paying attention to the road and traffic and rear ended the car in front of me when the line of cars slowed up quickly for the stoplight ahead.  Both airbags deployed, passengers side destroyed the windshield, the hood is dented up and the right side panel is damaged along with the frame on that side as well.  Needless to say that there is a lot of damage to the car and it will take more to fix it than the car is worth, not to mention the oil leaks that needed to be fixed before the accident.  So it will certainly make things interesting as I learn to navigate a new city without my own transportation.

Thankfully I have some incredible friends, Chris is providing so much already but at least I can get rides from her and be able to get to the store when she goes.  Ben Hoffman, former Durangoan, new Tucson training partner and an incredible athlete, it loaning me his scooter so that I can get places as well.  I am forever grateful for their help while I get my own wheels back under me.
The S Scooter, thanks Ben
Well my shop will approve.

I may not be ending 2011 on the best events right now but the opportunities and possibilities of what lie ahead are very exciting and I can't wait for 2012.  A happy and safe New Years to all.
Lets see what 2012 brings, it looks bright.

29 November 2011

XTERRA World Championship

XTERRA World Championships
October 23, Kapalua, Maui, HI
Race day finally greeted us on another gorgeous morning in Maui and I was thankful that it felt cool and was hoping that all the heat acclimatization had paid off. I started with my customary shower and breakfast before doing my final prep for the day to come.

Not a bad view to wake up to.
Knowing that the temperature and sun exposure would really hit me it was critical to have the necessary nutrition for the day.  As I lead in to the race I had two bottles I was going to drink before the start, one of water and the other with First Endurance EFS Orange and 3/4 of a scoop of Pre-Race. I set off and rode the few rolling miles to the venue for an easy warm up, and started to get my transition prepared.

I dialed the suspension on my Epic 29er toward the firm side accounting for the 3000 feet of climbing and the smoother trail than courses like Waco, Alabama and Richmond required. With the slightly looser conditions I went with a knobbier Schwalbe Rocket Ron at 24psi on the front and the new Specialized Fast Trak on the rear at 28psi for faster rolling but still great traction.  This was not a course for the super slick tires.

Letting it hang loose before the melee.
After lubing up with 2Toms SportsShield and ButtShield to prevent chaffing, I headed to the beach for a little warm up and noticed the water was on the calmer side compared to when I had swum in the days before and there were no signs of the swell that had been talked about. I looked at where the guys were gathering and elected to try to sit on feet aligning to the left side where the strong swimmers were as opposed to try to work out my own line on the right. As we stood waiting for the gun there was an obvious change in the water, waves started crashing down on the beach and the chop picked up, then we were off.
I know I am in there somewhere.
It was a smoother start than expected as people werenʼt pushing around but I was not able to hook on to the feet of the faster swimmers as planned and was in the melee as we headed to the first buoy. As we got further out there was a strong current that was pushing left and it was a fight to round the buoy. During the run between laps on the beach I noticed the carnage from the swim, there was no definitive front group, it was spread out and the gap was much larger than I had hoped to see. I led the main pack through the second lap and had to fight for my position out of the water coming in about 2 min down from the leaders, much further back than desired.

Ah shade, something the other course did not provide.
A nice smooth roll out of transition allowed me to slide my feet in my Sidi Terraʼs and get the Ergon HX2 gloves on before we hit any serious hills or dirt. Right away I notice that my legs were not spinning like I had hoped to start the ride as we headed up a gradual paved path before it kicked up and on to the dirt. Not long after getting on the dirt Conrad rode by and I just focused on sticking to his wheel, which worked until we had to get around another rider and I was stuck until I could find another position to pass while Conrad rode away. I rode well though the technical sections in the first 3 miles but found myself struggling on the hills.  Once the trail opened up, I tried to focus on getting in the necessary nutrition and hydration. At the first aid station at 6 miles I sucked down the last of my large bottle of EFS, dropped it, switched my small bottle of EFS to the front bottle mount and grabbed a water bottle. I was in a mix of various riders, but I couldnʼt stick with anyone and, they were slowly getting away. On the last major climb I found a bit of energy and stuck with Mike Vine, a stellar mountain bike rider, and a few other guys he was riding with to the top. Knowing the various skill levels of the group I put in a large effort to be at the front as we hit the downhill and left everyone with the goal of catching as many people as possible and closing down the gap to riders ahead.

Constantly jockeying for position with others
The lush green of the new course
That was about the only thing that went well on the ride as I flew through, closing the gap to a few riders that were well over a minute ahead at the top of the climb. At the bottom grabbing a fresh bottle of water and getting in another gel and more EFS I tried to keep my forward progress over the last small climbs. Then the heat and sun hit.  It wasnʼt very noticeable until now but on a dragging climb after the aid station it felt like my skin was on fire. I went back and forth with Chris Legh on some small rollers before a more substantial climb allowed him to put a small gap on me. The affects of the heat were setting in and I was not as smooth on the technical section as I had been during my pre-rides.

Trying to grab everything on my way out of T2
The most critical part of my run was while I am in transition. I had a small insulated lunch bag to keep a bag of ice and an iced bottle of EFS to start the run with. The bag of ice was to help cool my core temperature and a cold bottle of EFS was to help cool me from the inside.  This was needed with the heat and knowing how much I sweat. The bottle was perfect and provided me with the hydration I needed for the hot run ahead.  I made a conscious decision to leave the bag of ice behind as I struggled to grab everything else I needed for the run and still maintain a fast transition.

The run is brutal, the first 3 miles are 90% uphill and it gets steeper towards the top before you get a nice decent back toward the beach. The immediate uphill makes it very hard to establish a comfortable stride or rhythm out of transition and I set out to use this time to get in as much fluid as I could.  I was hoping that the legs would be there on the run more than the bike. I felt decent and my legs were turning over but the one guy I saw ahead still disappeared as the trail started to wind through the trees.

I was glad that I added a bit more 2Toms BlisterShield in my shoes as the heat was really making me sweat and I could feel my feet sliding around in my shoes. I chipped away on the uphill but was inevitably caught by Mike Vine and Tim DeBoom at about the 2.5 mile mark. I was very relieved to reach the top of the climb around a small pond and knew that a decent descent was not long off. I was very happy to have my Inov-8 X-Talon 212 on for the extra grip in the loose dirt as I twisted through the trees and was jumping up over rocks and trees on the way down.

There is a nasty little hill just after mile 5 that really saps the legs but I powered through knowing that it was almost all downhill to the finish. I was able to release the legs a bit on the descent down to the beach just as Ryan Ignatz was catching me. Just after he passed, super fan and friend, Kathy Tank yelled as I was crossing the river bed that Ryan and Lance (Armstrong) were just ahead. All I could think was that Lance was 42 seconds ahead at Nationals and I wasnʼt going to let him get me this time. The last 300 meters are brutal; first is 100m on the beach where I caught sight of Lance before a short flat section, then the last 150 meters uphill to the finish. That is the hardest I have finished a race being in that exhausted state, closing slowly I managed to catch Lance just at the base of the hill, thought better of saying anything as I went by, and just focused on making sure I could open a gap and not let anyone else catch me.

I crossed the line in 20th overall, 18th Pro.
 Unfortunately it was not the race I was hoping for or expecting. I came in with two goals. The first, a top 10 finish, which was going to be quite a feat with the most impressive field of athletes ever at the World Champs. The second was that I wanted to beat Lance Armstrong.  Though I did achieve my second goal, it was not like how I wanted to cross it off.

What I am excited about is that I can walk away knowing that I was closer to the winner at Worlds than I had been in all the previous years speaking to how competitive the race was.  Huge congrats to Dan Hugo who shows what it means to never give up and put in the performance of the day.  He pushed everyone to their absolute limit, it is scary to think how good this guy is.

Here is a link to a highlight video of XTERRA World Champs

I am now on some down time letting the mind, body and soul loose and relax and get away from sport for a bit.  Hope that you will all do the same until next year.

22 October 2011

Ramblings heading into XTERRA Worlds

It isn't often the desire to actually sit a write a bit happens but on the eve of the biggest race of the year funny things happen when your trying to stay off your feet.  In the month from Nationals to Worlds a lot can happen, the hope is that it is all good  After a good performance last year minus one little issue on the run a lot of the prep was duplicated for this year and then fine tuned.  Prepping for the heat has always been a fun task and things were done in a similar method; dressing in as many layers as was reasonable to build and hold heat in without getting too drenched that on the decent everything would freeze.  Brick workouts in conjunction with the Fall Series Cross Country races are a fun and fast way to get in a great workout.  The fun part is that when everybody else is dressed in shorts and a singlet or no top for the nice 70 degree day, I look like the ice age is at hand with 2XU compression tights, long sleeve, shorts and singlet and toque on.

Monument Valley Race, flat fast and 3/4 of a mile run upstream just for a bit of a change.

Bear Creek Race: Rolling hills with a rope assisted vertical climb at the end, leading the kids race.

The runs were preceded by a couple hours on the mountain bike in thermal bib tights and base layers under cycling jackets and skull caps just to simulate things as best as possible.  There were plenty of strange looks but none of it mattered, that's the prep that needed to be done.  I added a few sauna sessions as well, 20-30min each day in a temp ranging from 200-230 degrees, for the week leading up.

In the few days that I have been able to be out on Maui I have gotten to get out on both the bike and run courses which we were not able to do in the past when the race was down in Makena.  Coming in no one was that excited from what we saw from the videos and pictures but after getting out there the new course is a great improvement over the old.  The swim has the potential to be very challenging depending on the surf, with possible 3 foot swells in the morning which will definitely change things up.  The mountain bike is still very physically challenging with 3k feet of climbing and though it is not necessarily technical compared to Whistler, Alabama or Richmond you do need to have some mountain bike skills.  The first and last 2+ miles of the course are on some great twisty single track and depending on conditions it could really change things on how packed or loose the corners get.  The run will be brutal, straight out of transition we head uphill, there are a few small breaks where you can get your stride back but until you hit 3.5miles you will be suffering.  The downhill is a perfect grade so you can really fly, ducking, diving and hurdling logs and trees.  It twists and turn up and down the hillside but it is shaded for much of the course and I am grateful for that.  There is still the classic beach run for about 200 meters but it is much shorter than the old course before a punishing last kicker of a climb to the finish in the last 300 meters.
It is now a waiting game 17hrs out from the race, getting the last bits dialed in and set up.  A huge thank you to 2XU, Pro Cycling, SRM, Rotor USA, Sidi, Ergon, Effetto Mariposa, Colorado Running Company, 2Toms, Inov-8 and First Endurance for all the support this year you guys are the best out there and I couldn't have gotten here with out your help.  I believe in their product and support they provide 100% and thank you for believing in me.  Thank you to all my friends that have supported me through the years, your faith, belief and encouragement and understanding when I couldn't join you for that night out helped me get to this point.  Last but definitely not least thank you to my family, you have been my best supporters from the beginning always believing in me and supporting me through it all, I couldn't have taken one step along this path with out you.  Best of luck to all the racers tomorrow time to lay it all down.

21 October 2011

The Lance Factor

There are always many story lines going in to USA Champs each year and this year was no different,.  For the guys would Conrad dominate like last year, was Nico peaking perfectly, was Dan going to take the top step, would Josiah bring the US title home.  For the ladies, would anybody be able to challenge Melanie, would Shonny’s will and faith overcome her injury, would Leslie speed back?  Though all the headlines and stories are more than justified at being the headline going in, there is one that topped all; Lance Armstrong was going to race XTERRA USA Champs.  That news changed the race, the feel, the tactics, the scope and the amount of interest.  It was impossible to ignore as much as much as someone might try to and focus on what they needed to but when Lance attends things change.
My main focus was singular, I wanted to move up in the over US Series, I had only one option in which to do that, I needed to beat Nico and have at least one person in between us.  Now not impossible it was a very tough task indeed.  I have only taken Nico down once at the West Champs in Vegas, otherwise he ran me down in Waco, Alabama, and Richmond, and caught me on the bike in Beaver Creek but I was getting closer and closer to him.  The course played into his favor with a lot of climbing, minimal descending and minimal technical.
As expected it was a wetsuit swim, and with no wind the only chop we would be dealing with would be from the boats towing the photojournalists around.  The swim was interesting in that it the field really split in two there was a group massed to the left and the there was group massed 50 yards to the right, then a bit further right was Ben Allen.  When the gun went Ben was gone and the two groups merged a the first buoy and I aligned myself on Seth’s feet and on Lance’s side through the first lap.  After turning at he first buoy on the second lap through, Seth lost sight of the next buoy and Lance was leading and was veering way right.  I elected to take a chance and take the straighter line and see if I could end up in front.  When we hit the final turn buoy, I had managed to gain a body length and was pulling the pack back home.  As we headed for home there was a kayak in the direct line and knowing I didn’t want to veer left or right just yelled as I sighted for him to move and drag the amateur racer that was holding on to the kayak with him.  Thankfully he did, as we got closer we were mixing in with the slower age group swimmers finishing their first lap and I tried to use them to knock the guys behind me off my feet by noticing the ones the were drifting one direction or another and just  making my way past.  Unfortunately Seth went left and took the group with him and avoid the chaos and we exited the water in a group.
The sprint for the bikes.
I knew that time would be precious and shot quickly straight through T1 and was off on the bike only to bumble getting into my shoes on the bike.  I settled into my pace and Dan went flying by.  I was a judgement call I had to make early but I knew what lie ahead, and chasing Dan was not the best plan.  Within a mile of starting the ascent of Wheeler Canyon, Ben was now and after thought and complete focus was on trying to keep myself in second.  It was short lived as I heard wheels roll up from behind, Lance had caught up and was sitting on my wheel.  It remained that way for about a half mile before he passed, then noticed that Conrad was sitting on his wheel.  That was a first and all I could think was where was the photographer and camera man to have proof that they sat on my wheel for a while.  I managed to stick with them for about a mile before deciding that it was best to let them go and stick to my pace.  As we continued on to some true single track I focused on my goal of staying ahead of Nico.
After Josiah passed I knew that Nico was likely not far behind and sure enough just before hitting the middle descent he did just that.  I stuck with him but after we hit the start of the second climb he got away and I knew the only way I was going to catch him was a flat or a major blow up.  It was very different climbing up to Snowbasin, normally there are a few people at the road crossings and and at connecting trails that are close to parking lots, this year the number of people tripled out on the course.  There was one reason, everyone wanted a picture of Lance, in the middle of the race I was very tempted to say to people that they could cheer for people other than Lance when they remained silent as we rode by.  Conrad echoed this at the finish saying it was very weird not getting cheered for everything was for Lance.
As I continued up the climb getting time splits I figured that I was pacing myself as best as possible and the others had gone to hard in the beginning as the gaps were slower to open and I was managing well as we hit T2.
In the end I crossed the line 42 seconds behind finishing in 6th, after starting the run 2min 30 seconds down.  I was closer than any second place finisher in the Tour de France had ever been.  As for my primary goal, well it was unobtainable today, Nico won so there was no chance to jump over him in the series but I had my best season to date finishing in 4th in the series.  Now there is just one race remaining, Xterra World Championships in Kapalua, Maui, T-2 days to go. 

14 October 2011

Racing or Fun Eh?

I am a bit behind so here is a quick update on XTERRA Canada, expect another one very soon for XTERRA USA Champs

One of the most anticipated races of the year is XTERRA Canada, as a racer it is very hard to beat the riding in Whistler, BC.  It is definitely some of the most challenging riding around as well as some of the most fun.  It is very hard to label any one place as having the best riding in the world because as each location; Moab, Fruita, Whistler, Crested Butte, Pelham, each offer their own unique challenges.  This is why XTERRA is an awesome sport because each venue is entirely different, and the number of variables that can change from race to race is much greater than what a traditional road triathlon offers.  The thing that really sets Whistler and BC riding apart is their dedication to developing one of the most amazing trail systems in the world, easily the best I have ever been on.  When a community can come together and work with the local government on a specific task anything is possible and Whistler is a shining example.
The weekend started with a quick flight to Seattle and through the graciousness of my former roommate Haven, loaned me his car to use for the weekend since things popped up and wasn’t able to make the trip with me.  Once I arrived I put the bike together and headed out to pre ride the course with Will, Josiah and Cody.  The course was almost 100% brand new this year and was going to offer a whole new set of challenges, all I was hoping was that it would be as good as last year and it far exceeded.  Cal and the XTERRA Canada crew had local Trevor Hopkins put together a course that is a clear favorite for the most technical and most physically demanding XTERRA course worldwide.

Out of the chill and on to fun.
The chilly early morning made using the 2XU V:2 wetsuit necessary to stay warm, I started out quick and settled in knowing it was likely to be a bit of a longer day than normal with a technical bike and challenging run to come.  I pulled Conrad though the first 3/4 of the swim before managing a small gap over the last few hundred meters.  Exiting the water about 1 minute down from super swimmer Ben Allen with Seth close on his heels.
Down one of the many bridges in River Runs Through It
It was a bit of a struggle at the beginning getting into my Sidi Terra’s and Ergon HX1 gloves due to the switchbacks on the hill immediately out of transition but once I got things set, I gripped down on the Ergon GX2 and charged along to close the gap to the leaders.
Umm?  Focused but duhh...
Within the first hill I had one of the lead 3 in my sights and caught him at the top of the climb.  I was expecting Conrad to come charging by but increasingly more time had past and never heard his wheels rolling up on me.  I hit the first downhill and struggled, I had been nailing the pre-rides but was just off my game.  I was pushing to much and not riding smooth, and on this course smooth was fast, trying to push and go fast was not.  I eventually caught Ben on a short rocky section and then Seth a short time later when he had to stop to put air in his wheel.  A short time later I heard wheels come up behind, Josiah was flying and I did my best to try to get on his wheel and try to get the flow of the course and ride smooth.  He slowly got away as we finished the first lap of the bike.  Charging up the hill on the second lap Mike Vine caught me, I did my best to try to stay with him but he was to strong.  I did manage to relax a bit on the second lap and started to ride smoother through the first section but was still fighting things a bit.  The other athletes that we started to lap were very gracious in letting us go by but the fatigue of the course was getting to me and I was making small mistakes again as I finished up the bike.
Flying though the beauty of BC riding
Actually looks like I was running.
Once on the run I had only one goal and that was to hold my position, I hoped I had put enough of a gap on Seth to hold him off.  I knew the run would be challenging knowing that we were running the bike course from the previous year but it was one of those courses that just never seemed to stop.  The climbing was relentless and the technicality of the running was beyond what I had imagined.  The course got harder and harder because as I got more tired I couldn’t take the quick steps and bounce and balance around on the rocks.  I managed to hold my own for what I think was about 5k but Seth was much quicker today and I had to concede to him.  I semi stumbled home in fourth.

Podium: Me 4th, Seth 3rd, Josiah 1st, Mike 2nd, Kelly 5th.
I did manage to put together a decent race considering I had gotten sick the week before but I don’t think that really affected things.  Looking at the good and bad, I did feel much better in the water than I had in a while but I did lose a good chunk of time to the leaders.  I rode pretty strongly but I think I  over did the pre-riding and was a bit flat on race day and well technically I just sucked which was especially frustrating when I had nailed things on the pre-ride.  On the run I was solid for the first half then things started to come undone.  I don’t think I had gotten the necessary nutrition in on the bike which was hard to do and with the longer race I started to pay for it in the end.  Lessons were learned that will be applied for the next race, XTERRA USA Championships.

03 September 2011

Prelude to Xterra Canada...

On the eve of Xterra Canada in Whistler here is a nice teaser of the truly incredible trails that we will be racing on tomorrow.  The guys at Xterra Canada have put together an amazing course the will be sure to test the skills and endurance of the best out there.  This is the course that style of course that we need to be racing on for all Championship races.

Emerald Forest Section

Barts Dart Section

River Runs Through It Trail

If you really want to have fun in and Xterra yet be really challenged as well you can look no further than this.

23 August 2011

Vamanos Gringo!

Heading south of the border for Xterra Mexico in Tapalpa with no idea of what to expect but hoping for a fun time and grand adventure.  It certainly started off as an adventure with and early morning phone call from Will saying oversize luggage is under an embargo and not allowed on the flights to Guadalajara.  A quick check of the airline policies confirmed this and was wondering if this trip was going to be over before it even started.  Made the trip to the airport to just make sure and checked in with no issues and even asked if there was going to be a problem and they said everything would be fine to get the bike down there.  Travel can't be perfect all the time so one of the engines wouldn’t fire and a part was going to have to be flown in from Dallas.  So after deplaning and a quick phone call to the airline for rerouting to Guadalajara the day would be enjoyed at the Colorado Springs and Dallas-Fort Worth airports.  Arriving seven hours later than planned meant a email to the race organizers who arranged hotel for the night before getting on the shuttle the next day to be taken out to the race site.  Thankfully once in route though it was smooth sailing and all the luggage made it as well.

The transfer was entertaining as well driving up the mountain road provided some spectacular views and edge of the seat excitement wondering if we were going to meet other cars head on.  A few circles were driven around Tapalpa before narrowly squeezing between a building and guard rail and after believing everything was in the clear, a quick slip of a tire and half of the running board on the truck was ripped off and a fresh dent was added.  The arrival to Valle De Lago where T1 and the accommodations were was a welcome and surreal sight at El Solario a picturesque little Villa.

After getting settled, building the bikes and a fantastic lunch a pre-ride of the course was in order with Will and Karsten.  It began dry and clean and ended wet and muddy but was very enjoyable after riding the suspension bridge, climbing over and through gates, sliding through corners, dodging smaller puddles, plowing through the unavoidable ones, enjoying a drizzle and fording small streams and creeks.

The days at Valle De Lago were sublime, prepared home cooked meals, shared with great friends and the most incredible hosts, Santiago and Erika and some of the Xterra Mexico crew.  A quick swim in the lake and a trip to Tapalpa to check out the run course and grab some fresh homemade ice cream filled the last day before the customary gear prep for the race.

The swim was a two loop in water affair and although the water was warm enough to go sans wetsuit it was not to be and it made the end of the swim toasty. 

The race was at around 7000ft so there was no hard charge off the line just settling into a good pace unfortunately it was not good enough to get on to Seth’s feet.  Leaving transition about 30 seconds down from Seth and over a minute from the leader Perez the game was on to catch up.  About 4 miles in Seth made a slight error on the course and the lead trading began.  A couple miles later going through a small stream crossing there was a clink of a rock on metal followed by a rhythmic clinking signaling that a spoke had broken just the ascent of the steepest climb had started.  At the crest a quick stop to wrap the spoke around its neighbor and Seth led by a small margin. 

After ascending a bit more the metallic clink was back and another stop was called for to adjust the spoke so that the bike and other components would not be marred and cause further difficulty.  Now even further back from Seth, the chase was in earnest as the gap would need to be in the other favor if a win were possible.  After reaching the climax and with no idea of how much time Seth had gained, the downhill was the best shot of a comeback.  A Conrad style imitation of the downhill was the best approach and it paid its dividends as Seth was back in view once the road straightened out.  After the catch and working together for a few miles, there was a decision to either try to hit a bridge that had yet to be ridden or to drop down and ford the last creek.   
Out for lap 2 (Photo Courtesy of XTERRA/Kahuna)
Seth went for the bridge, unknowingly to both the gate was closed and he was now chasing in the closing miles to transition.  Weaving through traffic on open roads into Tapalpa made things interesting and after a quick change to the run the hunt was on.  Seth made up ground fast and after a short battle up the steepest climb, he got the gap and took it home.  There were hopes that the downhill would equalized things again but it wasn’t to be and the days effort and the mental fortitude of not giving in when things didn’t go perfectly was victory enough crossing the line in second.

Men's Podium (Photo Courtesy of XTERRA/Kahuna)

Pre Awards Fun (Photo Courtesy of XTERRA/Kahuna)

There are two cyclist on fire a the top riding backwards, ridiculously fun (Photo Courtesy of XTERRA/Kahuna)

Huge thanks the Xterra Mexico Staff, Santiago and Erica for making the trip we couldn't have done it without you, can't wait to come back.