Xterra Rockhopper and Beyond
Post World Championships slog fest has been much more successful than that debacle. Earlier in the year I had planned to try my first Xterra figuring my cyclocross skills would translate well to the off road biking portion and I used to run trails all the time. I couldn't be that hard, right? Right...? Wrong. Xterra is brutal.
Not knowing the looming pain that was soon to manifest itself I eagerly prepared for the race after Cozumel. I rode trails almost exclusively and outfitted my mountain bike, Dreadnought, with a dropper seat post and new grips to help with the rocky course. We were ready and I was stoked to go shred some off-road action!
Race morning was gorgeous. Arizona can certainly due sunrises. Going into transition to rack Dreadnought I noticed something amiss.
Despite the lack of pointy handlebars there was still a swim before the mountain bike. I elected to not wear a wetsuit after my recent fiascoes with over heating. I was literally the only one not wearing one but I didn't care, 74 degree water is freaking hot to me. Hey, this body was staying cool.
As the gun went off for the 1000M swim I took off hard and grabbed the lead. I was sure there would be some quick riders so I wanted to put some space between me and the rest of the field. That worked well, besides one guy. Ryan Pretry, pro off-road triathlete and also pro mountain biker. He let me lead the swim with no attempts to take the lead. Smart move as I wasn't aware of his presence until l he trotted past me into transition.
It wouldn't matter. Within a mile onto the mountain bike I had messed up some of the technical parts of the course. i took some poor lines as I was still feeling the effects of the swim hitting my body, The bike was surprisingly tricky to handle with my exhaustion. Petry pulled ahead and by the time I had gotten space out of the technical section and we were out along the canal, he was putting a gap into me hard.
Covering the last bit of technical traffic at the end of the first lap better I was pretty happy but then of course... we had to do it all again. The second lap was better and I lost less time to Ryan than on the first lap but it was not the smoothest still and this is an area of improvement for me still. As I came into transition I was about 8 minutes or so up on the 3rd place athlete and a solid 6 behind Ryan. Everyone keeps telling me that it was still good for my first race but...
The run was WAY more technical than I was expecting. After a trot down a gravel road the run turned up. Rocks and loose ground all the way along the side of a path up the side of one of the hills in Papago Park. It was steep. It was hot. And it was very very uneven. My road running shoes were woefully inadequate for this and I was suffering by slipping about in them. The downhills were particularly brutal as I found myself having next to no traction. I was surprisingly just trying to stay upright a lot of the time. Oops again
I saw no one close to me behind and Ryan was very smoothly running way off in the distance. I knew all I should do was keep a steady pace and enjoy the last triathlon of the year. Which I did. I cruised in well behind Ryan but also 10 minutes up on the rest of the field.
My first foray into Xterra had been eye opening and a blast. I intend to focus on the discipline more this coming year and have already been doing plenty of mountain bike races to help prepare even more for the event.
The weeks since Xterra have been a whirlwind of racing every Tuesday in cyclocross, weekend cyclocross in Globe, mountain bike racing in San Tan Vallley and a ton of music. I will do a collective off season cycling race report later but so far it has gone well and I am pleased with my performances. Next year is going to be much better of a triathlon year than the last half of this one turned out to be.