2011 Blast the Mass

Over the first weekend in August, Nick and I made the trip over Independence Pass for another fun weekend of racing on the steep slopes of Snowmass. With the cross country on Saturday and the short track on Sunday, it was a full weekend of racing. The women's pro field had some fast riders show up for both days, with Judy Freeman winning the XC and Erin Huck and Kelli Emmitt rounding out the podium. I held on for a solid 6th place in the cross country. In the short track, Kelli held off Sage W and Teal for the win. I again took 6th, with Kelli lapping me on final climb on her final lap. For Nick, he was the only rider to challenge the unrelenting grind up Snowmass Mountain in the Single Speed division and held his own among the Cat 1 Men. I will get some photos from the short track up soon.

The cross country course at Snowmass is one of brutal fun. The climb is steep and unrelenting from the start and the descent is along the Government Trail is classic Colorado fun. With the larger field then at Keystone, my goal was to try keep the time gaps to a minimum and hopefully get into the top five. At the sound of the whistle, we were off, pedalling up the steep dirt road. The lead group of Kelli, Judy, Sage and Erin formed right from the start. I settled into my own tempo - making a gradually move through back of the pack. I hit the single track in 7th and continued up the winding trail in my own little world of suffering. The climb is mostly single track, meandering up the ski slopes, through aspen groves and lush underbrush. It's a constant grind with few chances to recover. I was feeling much better then at Keystone and was keeping up with some of the Cat 1 men.

At the top of the climb with some hard riding, I was still in 7th place. Now for the fun part. I was surprised that I remembered most of the trail, but still wasn't clean on the traverse across the mountain. Thru the rock garden after the initial descent, across a few streams, and up and down the sweet single track. I was having so much fun and almost forgot I was racing! We merged with the Super D course for a while for some tight, rooty switchbacks, then another fast descent into a steep climb. At that point, I got my head on and started riding hard. Made the turn onto Government trail, then screaming down Anaerobic Nightmare. I caught a few guys on Tom Blake and came through the first lap in 1:18. A little slower then I wanted, but still a decent time. Time to face the climb again!

I was seeing a red, white and black jersey ahead and was hoping it was one of the girls in front of me. So I went into chase mode for the climb. It was my last time up the hill and knew I could afford to take some chances. I was making up ground, getting closer with every switchback. Then finally I was close enough to see the rider - and it was Nick. He'd gone all in on the first lap, hitting the single track in top five of the Cat 1 men. And now the piper was calling. I asked two questions - "Are you okay?" and "what's my time gap?" Yeah, priorities! And kept going, keeping the same hard chase tempo up the climb. Still no sight of the next woman at the top of the hill. I pushed as hard as I could on the descent - still not clean through the rock garden, but a smoother run. The short lap was a little different, with a new section of flowing bermed single track dropping into the village. I finished in 2:20 - about 20 minutes behind the winner, Judy Freeman. A much better race - technically cleaner and harder effort then at Keystone. I was definitely happy with my performance and my ability to get my head back in the game.

Sunday was time for the short track - my least favorite kind of racing. I was racing after Nick, so took off to get in a good warm up while the Pro men were racing. At the start, and I was in the back - there was a tricky section right after the start and I didn't want to get into trouble. I made a good move to get out of last on the second lap, then started closing the gap on the next woman. I got close, then lost contact. At that point, my goal switched to just not get lapped by the leader! Kellie was charging hard and I was hoping to hold her off. And as the time ticked down, I knew that it was going to be close. With three laps to go, I was still clear. With two laps to go, I could hear them ringing the bell for Kellie. And then, at the top of the last climb on her last lap, Kellie made the catch. I thought about fighting to get my third lap in, but decided against it. She was racing, and Sage was reeling her in. So I sat up and crossed the line with a mile and a shrug. Can't complain - I'm not that great at short track to start with. And it was a fun course, although not super technical - just a long steady climb pitching up steeply near the end and two sketchy corners into the village.

Overall, it was a good, fun weekend. Outside of racing, I got an nice run in on some new trails outside of the village. We got to play a few rounds of pool at the Mountain Dragon - lots of fun, but I really am bad at it. I had a few lucky shots, but in the end, Nick still beat me soundly. I was even taking two shots to his one and still got roundly thumped. But we had a good time. That's one reason we came back to Snowmass - its a great course, a friendly town and very convient for everything. Looking forward to next year!

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