It was a decent day today at Westbranch. This being a USAT event and the water temps. being above wetsuit legal (I think the temps. are 72* and above) everyone swam equally today with no wetsuits, which was good for some and not so good for others I'm thinking. The swim started out fast and furious with no group starts, meaning all men started together and then the women started together. For probably half of the swim the lead group of swimmers were together when it started to split up on the turn back in. I managed a decent swim and came out of the water near the front.
Once out and onto the road from the water exit I set my bike shoes near by so I could slip them on and begin the long run to T-1 which is where the mountain bike races start, so It's at least a 300 yard run and I didn't want to run barefoot on the road up into the parking lot area. I was feeling good on the run to T-1 and could tell my legs were going to respond today as long as I didn't crash on the bike or flat or roll an ankle on the rocks and roots. I had a fast T-1 and was soon in the trails. They ran the bike course clockwise for this event and we ended up finishing with the downhill into the grassy power sections. I haven't "raced" a mountain bike in 2 years so the first half of the bike along with the rock gardens (which I dismounted and ran by the way) were a bit touchy and I probably got passed by at least 6 strong mountain bikers, man those guys can fly. Once I got into a rhythm I was holding my own, but nothing like some of those guys. Racing your mountain bike on technical trails is something you have to keep up with if you want to do good at especially on a course like Westbranch with all the roots and rocks, I finished the bike in one piece with no flats or mechanicals and only went down one time and that was because I was going so slow I think that I just fell over because I cant trackstand...........
I came into T-2, racked my bike and grabbed my number belt and a gel and was off on the run.
The first mile and a half in the trails looked like we were in the Pacific Northwest with all the big green rocks, mossy roots and ferns, it was awesome running. The trail was very technical and you had to be careful due to all the rocks and the climbs but still keep speed. I had a runner in front of me that exited transition ahead of me that was running at a good pace. I thought I would sit on him through the rough stuff and when it opened up a bit I would surge and see if he would go with me. We got into an opening and I moved around him and picked up the pace and he wasn't able to stay on. I stayed strong throughout the rest of the run which we were now on the mountain bike trails that are probably the last two and a half miles of the mountain bike course which are very twisty and up and down. I came into the finishing chute strong at 1:54:40 for the 1/2 mile swim 11 1/2 mile bike and the 4.75 mile run which was good for 14th overall and first in the 45-49 age group. That was one tough race but alot of fun with strong competition. The overall winner was a 48 year old Master racer from Michigan, definitely a tip of the hat to him.
Tony placed 3rd. overall in 1:47 and change with a strong swim and run and two blazing fast transitions. He said his mtb skills need alot of work. He hasn't raced his mtb in a couple of years either so maybe we just might hit up a few mtb races per year in the future with Rudy and Robert, they're hard but fun.
Champ racing did an excellent job with the whole event and the run layout was great.
Great job to all of my Lake Effect Teammates in the Tour of the Valley Stage Race this weekend, everyone should be very proud, they represented well! Congratulations on a great weekend.