Copper Cup Weekend

This was a crazy, busy, fun weekend. Nick and I got to Copper late Friday night and drove around trying to find the check-in location for the condo. After getting the keys, we found the condo building, but the unit number wasn't on the map. Luckily, we bumped into the building manager and he was able to guide us in the right direction – a loft style condo over the two sections of parking garages! I think it was an add-on after the buildings were completed, just to get some additional space. But the unit was nice – nicer then our condo in Colorado Springs.

Saturday, I got up early and when for a moderate run on the Copper-Frisco bike path. It was really cool out, with the sun barely peaking over the Ten Mile range. There weren't too many people out on the path in the morning and I had a good run. I ran a few miles shorter then I wanted – but there was a lot going on. Nick wanted to pre-ride the cross country course and then chill out for a while before the short track.

I rode the Tomac for the pre ride and I really liked how the bike climbed. It handled really well on the down hills, but I still don't have the cockpit completely dialed. The course for Copper was two loops – one "pro" loop and one "long" loop. We pre-rode the pro loop because it had the harder descent. The climb was a good mix of road and single track and the single track was fun. It was a tough, long climb with only a few areas to recover. Nick and I rode up really easy, at conversation pace. We got stopped for a little to let the last race in the Super D go flying down. At the top of the Pro loop, we turned right around to start the plunge to Copper Village. I have to say, I did not like the first part of the descent. I just don't handle switchbacks that drop 10 feet straight down before turning 90 degrees well. I had to unclip on one and laid the bike down on another. But I survived. The rest of the descent was a blast. Fun, sweeping switchbacks in and out of the trees with long straights to get up some speed. It was on the downhill that I really noticed the cockpit issues on the Tomac. I was taking things a little gingerly on some of the switchbacks.

I did ride the Tomac for the short track as planned. This was my second short track race and I have a lot of learning to do regarding short track. Like at Angel Fire, I started too hard. It did not help that the Cat 1s raced with the Pro women – the pace was fast from the gun. I got a bad start, panicked a little and proceeded to try to win the race in the first two laps. Not a smart move. I have not yet developed the strength to maintain that kind of pace, even for 20 minutes. About halfway through, I was in third place of the Cat 1s and holding strong. First was a half lap up on me and I was not gaining any ground back. Then disaster. With two laps to go, at the top of the hill, I overshifted and dropped my chain. Trying to downshift and get the chain back on, I got it wrapped around my crank arm and couldn't pedal at all. I had to coast down the hill and then stopped to get my chain back on so I could finish. I was completely panicked and forgot everything Nick told me about getting the chain on fast. He was trying to talk me through it, but I was just freaked out. I have never had a mechanical in a mountain bike race before. Two women passed my while I was fussing with my chain. I had enough time to catch one, but not the other. My mistake – I jammed on the shifter and dropped the chain, then I panicked.

After that debacle, I was worried about the cross country. Nick told me not to stress and just ride my bike. I did ride the Era, like I had planned, and I did noticed the differences in the climbing right away. After watching the Cat 1 men 39 and younger have a mass pile up in the start, the women rolled out nice and slowly. There was plenty of road before the first single track. I climbed at my own pace, trying to just focus on my technical skills and riding my bike. At the top of the first loop, I was in second, but with the nasty switchbacks, I wasn't sure that I would hold on. I did not clean the steep switchbacks. I unclipped on one, blew the turn and had to correct on a second and just plain wiped out on a third. That was all the difference. On the start of the second lap, I was solidly in third, with only a slim chance of catching second. I hung on, yo-yoing through the climb. On the last section, the elastic broke and she was gone. I had fun on the last down hill, taking some chances and trying to push my limits around the sweeping switchbacks. The volunteers had lots of compliments on my pink and orange cycling cap from f3designs. Overall, the course was just a blast. It's been my favorite of all the MSC races. The climb was a brute, but mostly single track and the descent was challenging but fun. I'm really looking forward to this race next year.

Nick and I do have some pics – I'll get those up soon. I was trying to be creative and got a few nice shots of the pro racers in the Short Track.

Next week – Sol Survivor at Sol Vista. Cross Country on Sunday, Short Track on Monday.

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