Sunday, July 3, 2011

Subaru Cup Pro XCT#5 Cross Country

Already a week ago today was the Cross Country race for the Subaru Cup Pro XCT #5 which visited Wisconsin, put on by WORS and was race #4 in our local series.   I am buried somewhere in the back of this stacked field of the Western Hemispheres best Cross Country riders.

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I had a really good race and fitness, but my aggressiveness, discernment, and luck was not the best at the start which made it a game of catch-up the rest of the race.  Prior to the race I suggested to the director and other “in charge” type folks that the course needed to be wider for more passing at the start or a longer lead out in order to allow for things to spread out more and riders to use their abilities to get seeded in some sort of prologue.  This type of lead out would allow for rider ability to dictate who would be racing for the win in this race rather than who gets called to the first two rows at the start line.  But the pre-ride and UCI check-ups were already done, so it was discussion for next year…

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So being from the Mid-West and without any UCI points I was called up 5th or 6th row back.  From GO I was standing with a  foot down twice before we even started climbing, then we all stood around and looked like cattle at the top of the hill trying to maneuver 70 Pro riders into some extremely technical single-track all at once.  I have actually been “mooed” at a few times in these ridiculous situations, guess the spectators understand…I think I came out of that mess about 50th, it was a hike-a-bike stampede every man for himself at the back of the pack.  People were grabbing their bikes and running through the woods on all sides like 6-7 wide trying to move up into an open spot of single-track.  Once I got out of that mess I went to work, and I must have been going REALLY hard because I heard a couple of people tell me to pace myself on the first lap.  I was on a mission  to get back all that time lost as I watched my goals for this race and a ton of training get wiped out in the first 1/4 mile of the race. 

I managed to work my way up to 36th by the end of lap 1,  14 places in a very short lap and I started to regret it a bit going into the crazy start climb on lap 2.

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The pic does not do the hill gradient justice, but if you can see the gear I am in and how hard I am working it gives you an idea!

My Dad and a bunch of others said I looked like I was going to fall over with mouth open and drooling over the handle bars…it hurt sooo bad and I thought maybe I was done for after just 1 lap, but I recovered and was extremely consistent the next 5-6 laps and ended up finishing 20th overall.  I felt incredilbly strong on the switch back climbs and must have been really riding the descents well because I would close huge gaps on the descents every lap.  Those Jedi Knight skills…and feeling the force  much more lately. I think the only guy who passed me the entire time and stayed in front of me was the 8x Israeli national champion Rotem Ishay.  I battled it out with him for 19th  place and he got me in the end.  From Hike-a-bike stand-still 50th to 20th Overall with this kind of a field is not a bad result at all.  The results were kinda funny though, a bunch of us were still riding for old school teams or a mixture of new and old, assuming this had something to do with communication with USA Cycling/UCI.  Matter riding for PCW and I am on both Mr. Tree Racing and Vision somehow.

Here is a few pics from the superfans sections, this MTB community ROCKS!

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Check out this awesome Teaser Video from Marty Tank!  That initial Rock Drop section was packed with screaming fans and camera lights flashing, it was AWESOME, thank you soooo much everyone for cheering me on!  I am also on the back end of the Short Track footage before I blew up my legs going for glory..more on that later…

All in good company at the finish line in the pics below with my wife Lindsay being the awesome super fan and water girl for the day.  Also I was chatting with last years winner Sam Shultz at the finish line, guess he got bogged down a bit in the hike-a-bike as well.  Goes to show just like Tristan was writing the other day, if those of us from the mid-west want to contend, we gotta go chasing points where all the “Big Races” are held so we get the call –ups. 

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I have done some thinking about this the last few months and it is a goal of mine now to develop a “Pro Team” out of this current team, which will represent the mid-west at the National Level of this sport as well as develop the future generation for this sport through youth and beginner development. We have the talent here, it just needs the support, and I aim to bring it all together.  Growing the sport on both ends, but most importantly on the end where cultural values are made for future generations.

Watching the Tour De France today there was a short clip of Lance Armstrong talking about what makes “Sports” and he said, in not exactly these words, that it is having the top athletes noticed and followed by fans and youth through all the great coverage the big Road Race and Tours are getting now. I agree somewhat…as images of big names in Cycling flash across the screen and are compared to all the other Sports Idols out there in the more traditional American Sports. But I think those “Sports” as he put it are made through years and years of dedication and work from countless mentors and coaches who have developed generation after generation into those sports in America who then grow up to value them, play them, follow and spectate them and those athletes.

The goal of Vision is for me and my peers at the Pro level, and anyone else willing to join in, to not just stand on the podium in the spotlight but get involved in the development side of things. We need to get some hard work done not only to make this a household sport in our Nation but also create lifelong participants…participants who will have radically different well-being in health and sustainability due to one of the sports they were taught to value in their youth. So sorry Lance, I agree it is good for the podium and Cycling to be in the media and it will help it grow, but the real work of cultural change, for the long haul, for everyday life and not just what gets watched, is hard work with the next generation who need our attention to help them ensure a healthy and sustainable future. They need to not just have sports to spectate, especially with such a relatively short participatory shelf-life of the traditional sports offered them, but have a sport they can do for the rest of their lives while helping to answer so many of our health and sustainability issues if integrated well into our education and infrastructural planning.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to spectate almost any sport and even play almost all of them…but almost all of us learn to ride a bike at a very young age for good reasons…it is accessible, easy, fun, and it got us around much faster than our feet alone…but then we hit the “System” and we stop…I think the system is missing something…we need to integrate those reasons into every part of the “System” aka Culture…

So there is just a tidbit tangent of what is on my heart about “Vision”. More on that and Short Track/Super D later…

Thanks for reading!

Nathan

Photo Credit: Amy Dykema, TJ Harron, Jared Brodjeski, Niki Frazier, Gary Frost and a ton more can be found at WORS FLICKR

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