It’s no secret that my teammates and I like to race and ride bikes. The past weeks have been spent closing out our racing season for Team Cole Sport with the annual Springertournee nordic combined competition as well. It was a big block of races for me and it’s just about time to dedicate all my time back to the sport that is my life. I have been primarily on the bike with only a few sessions a week on roller skis. Racing bikes for me is a great way to keep in the right frame of mind for xc racing while not feeling totally devastated if things don’t go my way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a competitive person and I do everything to the best of my ability, but it takes some of the pressure of racing off knowing that biking is not my chosen career. That and the fact that I think mountain bike racing beats me up enough to keep me sane.
I started back in to racing mountain bikes this year after not having a race worthy bike for the last few years. I grew up doing the local town challenge races back home in Steamboat and the lack of racing in recent years was getting to be too much to handle. It’s just far too fun to pass up! I went to my first race at a new series up in Eden, Utah. The time spent on the road bike over the last few years paid off and I still had the fitness to post some good results and was on the podium for both races. This got me even more fired up to keep racing and I was so pumped to keep racing.
The next weekend was the Springertournee and it was back to the skis. It’s so awesome to have all the jumpers from around the country in town for this week. Everyone feeds off the energy and enthusiasm of each other and for the national team to have a day to coach the younger groups is a learning experience on both ends. No matter how long you are in a sport there is always more to learn, and sometimes it takes coaching some young kids to help re-learn some of the basic fundamentals. The week is beneficial for nordic combined and ski jumping as a whole and it is definitely one of the highlights of the summer for our team. The competition went pretty well and I ended up with a podium in the combined event to top off a great competition week.
The next week was back to the bike. Taylor, Bryan, Bill and I jumped in to the Chase Pinkham memorial criterium mid week to do maybe the last road race of the summer for some of us. We always go in to a race trying to work on team tactics but most races it seems that we are not quite on bike form to really impact the race. This was the first race this year that our tactics actually played out and we really worked well as a team. We got Taylor and Bill in the big breakaway group and Bryan and I took to sitting on wheels and waiting for the group sprint that luckily never came due to Taylor’s big dig at the end. Taylor was able to get the victory after soloing off the front of the break. It was awesome to take the win at a race that means so much to the local Utah cycling community after losing one of it’s greatest riders this year.
A couple days later it was back to the mountain bike. The second mountain bike races of the summer for me went even better as I got back the feeling of racing. Back up in Eden all the new trails were a little more in shape and so much fun to ride. It’s great to have another series like this in Utah to make sure there is no shortage of races to do since so many of the road races are early in the season right as we are coming off of the nordic combined competitions. By the time we get in to good bike shape it always seems like the racing season is over. Mountain biking also seems to me to be more like a ski race, just based on the shorter racing time and constant hard pace. I took a couple more podiums at the second Utah race and felt good going in to the Steamboat Stinger, which was an awesome 50 miler back home.
The Stinger seriously stung. Over four hours in the saddle racing on the mountain bike is no walk in the park but I felt like I had a decent day. I started off well and was right around the top ten going in to the second lap. I wasn’t able to eat on the first lap and it cost me a lot on the second when I bonked hard. Some lessons you just need to learn over and over again. Luckily I grabbed a coke from the aid station on the backside and managed to limp over to the front of Emerald Mountain. On the descent I was pretty out of it and took three good crashes. The second crash banged my knee and back up pretty good but at least the finish was just down the hill and I was able to come in 18th. Not an outstanding day on the bike but I was satisfied with that result in such a deep field of fast racers.
The next day I went for the full king sting and jumped in the trail marathon on the same course. I had a surprisingly good half marathon and was holding on to 3rd place but unfortunately my injuries from the previous day and lack of training for running led my knee to totally seize up. I tried to get it moving again but couldn’t make my knee bend to finish the race so I pulled out and hitched a ride back to town. A little disappointing but I have never considered myself a runner by any means so it was more of an experimental race. I’ll stick to skis and bikes from now on.
After all that racing I needed some time to rest and lick my wounds so I took a couple days to camp, fish, and relax with my girlfriend. We came back to Park City and now I’m ready to transition back to preparing for the ski season.
This was an awesome month to get some hard training in but do it in a little different way. I love the training that comes with being a nordic combined skier but once we are in to the fall I don’t like to be totally burnt out on roller skiing. I have a great feeling moving forward and I’m actually excited about doing most of my time on roller skis now. I’ll keep doing the occasional mountain bike race but it’s important to focus on getting more speed back on skis going in to the winter. Time to get some spring back in my legs for jumping and get stoked for the months leading up to game time!