Race Report

May 3, 2012

Mansfield O-Cup – Aaron sets a course personal best!

Report by Aaron Hamil

Race Day!

I set my alarm for 7:30 but ended up waking up at 7. I packed down some vector and a bagel and took a little time to chill on the couch before getting all my gear ready. 8:30 rolled around and my wife and I were ready to roll.

The drive up was long and I was a feeling a bit nervous, so we decided to crank some Skrillex in the car and that seemed to relax me a bit.

We got to Mansfield at about 10:10, I picked up my # plate and headed to the start area/feed zone. Just in time to see Morton Schmidt go around after his first lap. He was about 9th or 10that that point, but ended up finishing 6th in the Masters Sport (40-44) category. (Seriously did not think he was over 35). Mike Lynch also raced in that starting field and finished 16th for Masters Sport (50-54). Go WCC!

I got my kit on around 11:00 and went for a warm up spin around 11:15. I was feeling pretty good for that but still a bit nervous. This being my first real year of racing, I had no clue where I was going to stack up. I was away the past week and hadn’t been on the bike much, which sucked, plus, you never know who’s going to show up in the sport category, so I just had to hope I was going to perform well.

11:45 rolled around and the start gun sounded. It wasn’t actually a gun, but rather a guy yelling “go”. Regardless, off we went for our nice loooonnng slow climb to start. Someone once told me that every good MTB race starts with a climb so this course was no exception. I got a good jump off the start and after the climb was sitting about 10th. The rest of the course was nothing crazy. Most of the climbs in the single track were rooty and technical, but I soon found that the stuff that presented no challenge in my pre-ride was eating me up in the race. I had dropped a couple spots mid-way through the lap but was hanging on to a Cycle Solutions rider. Unfortunately I just couldn’t hit the lines I had previously picked out on the tough climbs and was forced to hop off and run up. There’s nothing I hate more than getting off my bike to walk it up a climb. I had settled back into 16th or 17th by the end of the lap, but didn’t feel too bad so I figured I could make a few spots up. Wrong!

The second time up the long climb I felt the worst. I made it up and even passed a couple guys, but once I got to the top my lungs were burning and I was gasping for air. I used to get some asthma symptoms in the cold as a kid, but never this bad. I quickly lost the spots I gained on the climb and the rest of the race wasn’t much different than how I described my feeling on that climb. I just couldn’t push for the rest of the course and ended up finishing 17/40. After the finish I was having some serious breathing issues. It was painful to breathe deeply and it made me cough if I tried, which in turn hurt my lung and airways even more. We’ll see what the doctor says.

My goal for the first race was a top 10, so 17th was a bit disappointing, but honestly it was a great start to the season. I was 9 minutes faster than when I did this course last year, so that’s a big improvement and I’m happy with that. If anything, this was the best way to figure out that I’m not at the level that I want to be at, so I’m going to have to push myself harder in the coming weeks and months to get there. Next XC race is in 2 weeks at Woodnewton in Uxbridge so the next couple weeks of training will be crucial. Special mention should also go to Stefan Janhunen who finished 7th in Senior Sport (20-29) with me. Next time hopefully I’ll be seeing more of you during the race Stefan… and maybe we will see a couple more WCC riders out next time???

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