Sunday, July 08, 2007

National Marathon Champion Jersey at the Firecracker 50 on July 4th

After missing the Lumberjack 100 race - 3rd in the 2007 NUE series in Michigan a few weeks ago, I've been unpacking and getting a little hill training in. I'm so glad to be back to my old routine here in CA. Despite not being in the hills, I could still train, but not like here.

I knew it was too soon to go to a big race at altitude - showing up the day before and putting my bike together at 6PM, it was kind of nice to have a choice to choose if I should race my age group or pro. Mom and wife didn't even want me to go. So there I was in the hotel room putting my bike together contemplating. Guess it was climbing up the stairs to get to registration and before I knew it, my hand marked the age group.

Race day - wasn't sure how things would go, but it went really well. Started off great and I was able to get to the front 10 minutes into the race. I was able to set the pace and that was a great start. I didn't think I was going to be able to set the pace but my legs felt good and I started looking ahead and the groups that started ahead was my main focus. I tried to catch as many riders as I could. I couldn't believe my legs felt good. Even at my best when I was younger, racing at altitude was and always has been tough for me. And if you've got a chance, the bike will show up, you'll get to the race in time, and your body will be in shape enough to have a good race.

But to really do well in the pro class at altitude, you either need to live and train at altitude or you need at least a week to acclimate. So, I guess what I'm trying to say, is that I raced in my class for the second time, ever. The ages were 40-49 and if you are in that class and ever raced it before, it's not easy. And now looking back, I wouldn't have been able to win if I crashed or had a mechanical. The race came down to the last 10 miles and switching back and forth between me and a Chipotle racer. The only thing I had was my experience to win. Can't find the race results or his name but he was a good challenge right to the end.

I was happy with my performance, with just two weeks of hill training. I'm so glad to be back!

No matter if I had raced my age group or racing the pro class, I would have been in the top 10, but in the pro class, I wouldn't have won the National Jersey. I needed this win, not only for the confidence, but it's been tough racing since last year at RAAM. Some good and some bad races. I also needed to practice at my age class since August is the UCI Master's World Championship in France. Until last week, I had no idea what it would feel like, and I'm glad I got a taste of it. It will be tough. But I'm up for the challenge.

No matter how you look at it. A National Championship jersey is a National Championship Jersey and it feels good to wear one. This is a nice way to get ready for the second half of the 2007 race season.

This was my 8th National Jersey and as you get to this point of your life/career, it means a lot. So much has happened this last year. With Joshua, new responsibilities, my new wife, and everything else, it was nice to bring home the jersey. It was for the family.

And just to finish, I found this quote from the race director and he was discussing the race and the atmosphere there: "I think that the national marathon championship designation will have a modest effect on the field," the race director said, "but this event has been and will continue to be more about the lifestyle racer than the pro. It's for guys who work their 40-hour weeks and like to get out on their bikes as much as they can. Just finishing the Firecracker is an honor." - This is really what mountain bike racing is all about. Not me, or what I've done, but those guys and gals that make cycling a lifestyle. I love being a part of it.

God Bless America,



Stephen said...

Hey, congrats on the National Chamionship!!!! Are you gonna make it to NC for the Off Road Assault on Mt Mitchell? Stephen

Frank Brigandi said...

mountain bike racing is a lifestyle, it's a way of life. Life is poetic sometimes, racing has it's little haikus, we have long stories to tell of them.

Matt said...

Congrats on the jersey. See ya at Breck.