Rim Nordic Autumn Cup 2011 | Race Recap

Rim Nordic has always been one of my favorite places to race.  I raced there the first time in 1995, right after moving to California.  And while I have

Rim Nordic Autumn Cup 2011 | Richard La China

Rim Nordic Autumn Cup 2011 | Richard La China 1st Place (Cat2 35-39)

come and gone and come again to the mountain bike racing scene over the years, when I am racing, I know for sure that Rim Nordic will be a great experience.  Bev and her team have been terrific and I am fortunate and grateful to have such top-notch race organization so close to home.

So, just a quick re-cap on the race.  The day prior to the XC, I raced the Super-D and ended up with the third fastest time overall.  I am relativity happy with my result as Derek Hermon (Pro) had the number 1 time and Michal Page (my super-d arch enemy/friend) had the number 2 spot.

I was trying out a new set of carbon Roval wheels and for whatever reason just didn’t feel as confident on them as my non-carbon (1.5lb heavier) set.  No worries though, I quickly overcame that confidence issue when it came to the XC race on Sunday.  These wheels are freaking in-cred-i-ble — Justin Mann (RnR / Sho-Air) said it best when he called them ‘cheater wheels’.  Hah!!

My Rig | Specialied Stumpjumper 29 Carbon Hard-Tail

My Rig | Specialied Stumpjumper 29 Carbon Hard-Tail

Ok, so onward to the XC race.  I wasn’t sure what kind of turnout to expect as in previous year the Autumn Cup had a smaller showing.  Not this year however — it felt like a regular series race and many of the usual contenders.  I did my usual warm up in the Snow Valley parking lot and rolled up to the staging area a couple of minutes prior to the start.   I thought I might have the race in the bag until Derek Oldfield (Acqua Al 2/SDBC) and Kermit McGovern (Celo Pacific) rolled up next to me.  As this was the last race at Rim Nordic for the season, I intended to give it everything I had – I was glad to have some horse-power to battle with and to keep me motivated.

At the start the pack slowly rolled off the line and I peddled easy waiting for someone to come around to set the pace for the 1st climb.  Derek came around and I latched on to his wheel and Kermit latched on to mine.  About 3/4 of the way up the 1st climb Kermit said we had made a small gap on the rest of the riders.  The three of us pushed on at a moderate / strong pace towards the top of the climb at the fire road.  Kermit had fallen back just a little by the time we reached the top.

Just before the gate, Derek’s chain was making a ton of noise and he jumped off his bike to address the issue.  I road by him to the water station and brought my pace down waiting for him to catch back up.   Maybe this was a bad idea because as soon as I let off the gas my right calf started cramping. Out of no-where Kermit is back on my wheel, he said Derek was back on his bike.  At this point waiting for Derek was over, I manged to work through the cramping leg and Kermit and I picked things back up for a fast (and super fun) descent.  I seemed to be pulling away from Kermit on the fireroad climbs back towards the start line and he seemed to be gaining on me on the descents.

I rolled across the start/finish line and didn’t see Kermit behind me anymore.  I let off the gas again in preparation for the up-coming climb on lap 2.  Just as I got to the climb I saw Kermit coming around the corner through the trees — maybe 45 seconds behind me.  I hammered up the climb and worked hard to create a good size gap as I knew he’d be able to catch me again on the descents.    This is where I discovered my ‘ugly face’, I am not sure what came over me but I am super glad there weren’t any photographers around.  As drool came out of my mouth and somehow connected to my nose, I almost uncontrollably made this deep grunting sound like I was turning in the Incedible Hulk or something, only I didn’t turn green or get any faster. Anyway…

Every time I looked back I could see Kermit coming for me — more power, bigger gear, push .. he was relentless!

Team Velosport Sponsors | Sho-Air

Team Velosport Sponsors | Sho-Air

Made it to the fire road and gave it absolutely everything I had —  I felt like I had the power left in me to bring home the win;  I just needed to ride smart, keep the power on and get it done.  Smokin’ down the single track, the fastest I’ve ever ridden it.  Whew! Damn hardtail — I could just picture Kermit floating over everything with full suspension and I could hear him gaining on me.  When I got to the last fire-road climb I got out the saddle and rode with ugly face all the way to the finish.  Whew!  I got it!  First XC win of the entire season!

What a race — Kermit finished 35 seconds behind me (well done sir!).  Derek ended up making some ground and then broke his chain (repaired it) and still finished #5.

It was another Epic race at Rim Noridc – looking forward to 2012.   Special thanks to Sho-Air, Rock N’ Road Cyclery, Specialized (all our team sponsors) and Team Velosport for all the support this year.  And of course to Jesse Eisner (Best Coach Ever!) and Crank Cycling.

One race left for 2012 — Specialized State Championships October 2! Sooo ready to end this year strong.. 🙂