Getting Back Into the Racing Groove

This weekend was a fairly important race for to me. While I didn’t make it out to the US National Champs, and due my injuries didn’t have the UCI points to compete at Mount Saint Anne, this race marked my first Eastern States Cup race in a year. It was hard for me to believe because in years past I had done 14 of them in one season.

This ESC race was held at Killington resort, on one of the more commonly used racecourses. The top part of the course involved a lot of traversing, and even a slight uphill pedal through a mild rock garden. Not exactly my favorite type of riding. However, once you passed the traverses, the course really started to come to life. Technical rock and root infested turns, with a some funky camber meant slower speeds, and required finesse.

My first run down, I slipped on every rock my tire contacted. My feet were dabbing left and right, and when I got to the high speed section it felt like my hands were going to give out. The whole practice session was a psychological battle. Had I lost all my skills? How much slower was I riding?
I spent a little bit of time getting reacquainted with the race atmosphere. I took my time, walked the course, started to get my lines down, and put some different tires on my Evil Undead. I started running into old faces and even did a few hot laps with them.

By the time it was time for me to do my race run on Sunday, I was a little anxious, but much less than I’d been at other races. During my run I remained focused, and kept my composure as I threaded the rocks and only dabbed once.  When I crossed the line I was just happy to make it down the course with a run I was proud of. My time stood up until one of the last riders, Mauricio Estrada who managed to squeeze by into first, and there’s no shame in placing second behind one of Columbia’s most talented riders.

Once everybody was down, we gathered up at the top of the mountain for the best part of the weekend, party bike trains led by the Killington Parks trail crew. 30 riders ranging from the top pro riders to random riders we met on the way up. I had more adrenaline pumping as we hectically navigated the terrain sight unseen than I did on the race course. bodies were falling left and right, but the riders would brush off, laugh and do it again. I had forgotten why I loved Eastern States Cup races so much. It’s not so much the races, but being with a bunch of  riders at the same place.

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