Ara's Mammoth National Championship Race Report
This past weekend was the National Championships up in Mammoth Lakes, Ca. I had qualified for Cat 1 XC and went for it with all I got. Was feeling pretty good after a month long road trip that saw me ride some great single track in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon. Riding with Jim Roff and Jay Shippers really honed my skills and the hours of climbing in altitude kicked my butt. With my support crew of Shortstack we headed up to Mammoth to represent and throw down some hot laps.
The course was fun! 5.5 mile circuit with appr. 1,100 feet per lap. Fun single track and a great downhill finish on Shotgun. The key for me was not to blow up on the first climb so I stayed back in last place and eyed the competition. Right away I picked off a few riders gasping for oxygen in the thin mountain air. Caught up to the main group surprisingly and rode on their wheels until the front pack accelerated. Wasn't sure what place I was in but was holding my own, lap 1 hurt! Shortstack handed me my bottle for the second lap and that is where I found my rhythm. Kept on drinking Amino Vital Endurance each lap. My Sigma Rox 10.0 had me on even splits each time. The lap setting is great to have on the bike computer. Also was getting more confident on the descents, especially with Kenda Honey Badger XC Pro on the front and a Small Block 8 1.9 on the back. That back tire did not once slip on the incline or decline, very surprised!
The course had many loose sand and pumice, very chewed up of all the racing from the prior day. Sharp rocks hide under the many "baby powder" but never cut the tire or burped. My Xpedo Ti pedals took a bashing but never had an issue. The last lap was fun. As soon as I grabbed my last bottle from Shortstack on the steep fire road climb I got passed by two riders from my category. The Blackstar rider flew by and then the Velo Reno rider threw a sprint to pass me onto the single track! I calmed myself down, didn't panic, and slowly reeled him in on the long climb. Passed him near the end of the first climb and kept on the pedaling for dear life. I could see the Blackstar rider ahead of me! Racer behind me, Racer ahead of me, on the last lap! Near the top I felt my hamstring twinge, more Amino Vital needed! Powered through the pain and started to descend down Shotgun trail with reckless abandon. Good thing I had my Voler Kenda shorts on because I was pounding down that trail. Rocks were being thrown onto my Ryder Sunglasses and my Royal Quantum gloves gripped to the handlebars like an Osprey catching a Rainbow Trout. Made it down to the finish straight away and passed the line with Larry Longo's voice booming in the microphone "Ara from Backbone comes through the finish in 6th place". What?! Didn't know I was up there. Podium was 36 seconds ahead of me. The Velo Reno racer was 12 seconds behind me. Good times!
Big Thanks to Shortstack for cruising up with me to support and feed bottles. Worst photographer but most importantly the best bottle feeder, that is more important to me. Big Thank You to Roger at Kenda for the help and support also. Jim Wannamaker, KMC, chains was out there and heard him cheer us on each lap. Thank you to all the sponsors; Sigma, Xpedo, Amino Vital, Royal, KMC, Voler, Hydrapak, and many more.
Recovery time with a lot of Amino Vital Pro because this coming weekend is the Grizzly 100 at Big Bear, CA. 100km with over 10,000ft of climbing on a mountain bike hard tail.
Until then, cheers!