US Cup #3 Fontana 3/30/13
Written By Corey Luce
I spent Saturday watching teammates and friends race the CAT 1 division and also getting in some warmup and pre-riding in on the course. This course was not for the weak! I've been on the course before and even did a winter race in January of this year so I knew what was in store. Not only does this course offer technical rocky descents, but rocky climbs that will test your legs and lungs. Saturday's race brought lots of crashes and mechanical failures to many racers, including one my friends, who thankfully was still able to finish the race after a pileup off a rocky ledge!
As 9am approached, I was warmed up and ready. We were the 2nd wave as the 19-29 age group was 1st. The first group took off and then they lined us up. 2min until we go. The 2 minutes feels like 30! 1min, 30sec, 15sec, 5 sec, BAM! We are off battling for position down the fire road. I set myself up in 6th down the first stretch. We make a hard 180 to the 2nd stretch then up the first small hill. This is where I made my move into 3rd powering over the hill into the rolling singletrack. Matt(Cannondale/Musclemilk) had the lead, a Trek/Bear rider in 2nd, and me following in 3rd. Matt started to pull away from us and I had no where to pass 2nd place to try and stay with him. Finally a moment opened and I took it, making the pass and getting into 2nd place hammering to try and catch Matt. We hit the short pavement climb and I was able to close the gap some. Before hitting the turn to the rocky dirt climb to the top, Matt was able to get around a rider from the previous group. Me...nope. I was stuck behind him. Due to the technical nature and tight singletrack in this section, there wasn't room for me to get by easily. I kept telling him I needed by, I needed by! Finally I just yelled "Just move! pull off to the side and move over!" I think he got tired of me talking his ear off as we climbed BUT the leader was getting away and putting a gap on me(us) and I'm being slowed down by the last place rider of the group in front of us! Finally was able to get by as he moved over. I hammered up the hill and hit the backside descents which are very technical and rocky. I kept it smooth( as possible) and fast, keeping it on two wheels. I was able to still have a fast 1st lap considering the traffic. Lap 2, I was only within a minute or so of Matt and I kept pushing the pace and navigating through other riders. I could see him throughout the course and kept trying to close the gap. Again pulling a fast and clean 2nd lap. 3rd lap came around and I was tiring. It was getting HOT too! Felt like my Heart Rate was rising with the temperature! My buddy Jason and Jett were there and was able to give me a fresh bottle for fuel. They said I had a big gap on 3rd and the rest of my group and that Matt was still within reach. But the course was taking a toll on me. I hit the climb again to the top and did what I could to power up it, but legs were noodles! Felt like it took forever to get to the top, but I still had a good pace going. I had another clean run through the course and I hit the backside fire roads and sprinted on what I had left to the finish. Whew! Matt put up a great 3 lap fight (17 miles and 3100+feet of gain) and I rode away with another 2nd place finish!
We had 17 racers in my group come out to race in this National event and due to the nature of this course, 5 were DNF's(Did Not Finish). Either due to crashing, mechanicals, or both. I'm looking forward to battling in Santa Ynez in a couple weeks and HC3 Coaching has me right on schedule with my fitness.