The training that James Wilson is having me do that is.  I just got done racing the 20th annual Spring Thaw race in my hometown Ashland, OR and it went really well.  Far better than I expected actually.  I think I have to admit that all the interval training and core work I’ve been doing have lifted me off my old plateau.

On the way down to register for the race I was still about 50/50 whether or not I was even going to race the XC part of the weekend.  A big part of me was in doubt if I had my fitness back from the crash I took at the Keyesville classic and I didn’t want to burn myself out the day before the DH which I thought I had a good chance of winning.  But then I get to registration at “The Standing Stone” brewpub and there’s Mark Weir asking me if I’m gonna race the XC or not.  “Uhh…I still haven’t decided,” I say.  “You’d better race it or your DH win won’t count. I mean you’ll still get the win technically… but there’ll be an * next to your name and we’ll all know you’re a sissy,” he says.  Or something to that affect.  There was a lot of gum flapping going on and it’s hard to remember exactly what he said.  If you know him, it’s not hard to imagine though.

I tell him I’m still not sure if I’m gonna race it or not but internally I already know I can’t let that poke at my manhood and potential DH win slide. They leave. I register for the XC, DH, and Hardtail DH.  I tell myself I’m just gonna treat it as a hard training ride. After pre-race BS and a beer with fellow racers I go home and tell my wife that I got Weir-pressured and I caved and registered for the XC.  She gives me a whole bunch of grief for caving in to the peer pressure and I can’t win…Unless I win.

I rolled out with the leaders in near perfect race weather and was a bit surprised to find myself leading the pack for a little while up the first climb.  It felt wrong somehow.  Like there was a giant trick being played on me.  So I backed it off a bit and fell into a top ten position but still not too far from the front.  I began to pick more spots off on the climb and then really took back some spots on the first descent.  Caught up to my pal Mark Weir about halfway down & sat on his wheel for a while.  Then we turned a corner and headed back up for the second climb up to the top.  I got a bit out in front of Weir & held it all the way home into 4th place overall. Scott Chapin (Santacruz Bicycles) 3rd.  Aaron Bradford (Specialized) 2nd. And Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain) won it very convincingly.  I must say it felt pretty nice to be sitting at the finish line waiting for Weir to roll across…It’s usually the other way around.

The DH on day two of the Spring Thaw has always been my focus and this year was no different other than that there was a huge pro class this time around.  The conditions were nasty!  It had been raining all night. Cold. Snowing/raining/snowing/raining/up at the top all morning during practice runs.  In the days before most of us who had been out on the course were thinking that records would fall this year.  Probably 3 or 4 people would have broken the old records..That’s how fast the track was running.

Not this day.  I think those were the worst conditions I’ve ever raced that course in.  Everybody was thinking the same thing “Just get down the hill in one piece and it will be a good day”.  Just survive your run.  And I had to go and sign up for hardtail class too. Smart.  I got to go tenth off the line for my standard run and 200th off the line for my hardtail  run. It continued snowing/raining the entire time.  Conditions were much worse the second time down after roughly 200 racers had their way with the trail.  Sometimes the trail had it’s way with the racers.

When it was all over the top five were;

Nathan Riddle     4:12:50

Mark Weir             4:15:88

Casey Coffman    4:16:79

Ben Cruz                4:16:82

Aaron Bradford  4:17:10

Pretty close

and I took Hardtail DH too…I actually feel kinda guilty about that.