Monday, October 14, 2013

Race Report - Boulder Cup by Kirk Groves (@LSVLKirk)

I've raced at Valmont at least 5 times. The 2013 Boulder Cup course was undoubtedly the most challenging physically. There were more vertical feet per lap and the climbs were steeper than previous editions. I went into the race feeling fresh and excited. I'd resolved to do well despite the climbing and told myself it would hurt everyone. A total of 51 riders lined up for the 35+ 4 race at 8:50a. Also on course at the same time were the 45+ 4 field.  Instead of using the existing paths on the hill they mowed the native grass and sent us straight up the hill and then down it in tight turns. By the end of the day new trails were cut in, but early it was still slick clumpy grass, as seen in the picture.

This was the first time I've raced in cooler conditions this year. The typical start time for my category has been 1:40p. I had an extra layer of clothing on for my warm-up that I pulled off at 1 minute to start -- perfect! Based on previous race results I received a front-row call-up and got the exact start I wanted. I was 2nd heading up the longer gradual climb on the north side of the park and into the sand. I stayed in 2nd for a lap and a half. I didn't want to lead the race at this point and the guy in front started to slow dramatically, he finished 36th. Three racers came around and the four of us swapped spots back and forth for a couple laps. As the race progressed there were two moves I had to let go but I wasn't ever further back than 4th.

At the start of the final lap I was still in 4th and had a 5 second lead on the guy in 5th. The guys in 1st - 3rd had a big enough gap on me that my goal was to hold on to 4th. I tried to increase my pace a bit as I anticipated the last lap acceleration and the final scramble for spots. I didn't have enough in reserve and I went way into the red. When you're in the red you get sloppy. My bike washed out from under me at the bottom of the big descent into a 180 degree corner back uphill. I got back on and moving fairly quickly but my 5 second gap on 5th place was gone. The rider passed me a minute or two later and I was completely gassed. I barely made it up the big climb (having to dismount and run it at this point in the race), around to the stairs and down to finish line in one piece and held on to 5th for the day. The side story is that the rider who passed me for fourth was Dave Vogel, Foxtrot alum. I've never beaten him in a race and I thought this was the day. Unfortunately I won't get another change to race him until I upgrade to a 3, Vogel will receive his mandatory upgrade with this result. In hindsight I don't think I could held Vogel off even if I hadn't slipped out, but it certainly didn't help my cause.

I'm content with the result -- the course was freaking hard and not at all what I'd describe as ideal for me. After crossing the line it was all I could do to keep from puking so I know I gave it everything I had. I think Dave's wife was concerned that I might hurl on their baby.

It was great to have other Foxtrot guys on the course cheering me on -- I might have not acknowledged the encouragement from Jon, JD, Adam and Steve but I certainly heard it and it helped! I went home, got cleaned up and came back for my afternoon shift as course marshal. It was awesome to watch the pro women and men shred! It goes without saying that they're incredibly talented and FAST!

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