NOVA National Stage Race: NMBS #2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Curry   
Thursday, 17 April 2008 08:56

Lisa and I decided to get the mountain bike racing season off to an early start this year. We booked our flights in February and started training. It wasn't easy to prepare for a desert mountain bike race in what has been an "old fashioned" Montana winter. Since the trails around Bozeman are covered in many feet of snow, we took road trips to Billings, Pipestone, and Lewis and Clark Caverns to get some trail time. We also endured some miserable "hot rides" where we bundled up and rode the trainer indoors to attempt to acclimate to the anticipated hot conditions.




The NOVA National Stage Race takes place just outside of Phoenix, AZ, and is the second stop on the national mountain bike series. The three events are: super-D time trial, short track, and cross-country. Unfortunatley we couldn't make it down in time for the time trial on Friday, so we were forced to take starting positions at the back of our fields for the subsequent races.

Short Track

My first race was the short track on Saturday afternoon. It was about 85 degrees, but the steady breeze made the temperature bearable. I lined up near the back of the semi-pro field of 56 very tan and fit looking racers. The gun fired and we were off in a huge cloud of dust. The course was a short loop of doubletrack, singletrack, and a steep loose climb that forced almost everbody to dismount and run cyclocross style. After the first lap chaos I found myself around 30th position. My legs felt good and I started passing where I could. By mid race I was in the top 15. I was running out of steam from my earlier efforts and settled in with a group of 4 racers. I threw in a few attacks but couldn't move ahead any more and settled for 10th. Short track races are only 25-30 minutes long but the intensity is severe. I felt totally devastated like I had done a 3 hour race afterwards.

XC Race

Sunday morning we were up early for the 8AM start of the XC race. My semi-pro field started first with the expert fields following in several minute increments. The cross country course consisted of a 10 mile loop of fun, fast, and twisty singletrack. Climbing was minimal, as were places to pass! I fought through the start of my race and hit the singletrack somewhere around 25th out of 60 guys. The whole field strung out in single file snaking through the desert. I had a few setbacks on lap 1 of 3. I first noticed my rear brake gradually dissapear to nothing. Then I lost a precious water bottle. I made a few good passes but crashed once and lost the places I gained plus some. Lap 2 I began stuggling more and more to keep my bike upright as the trail became more loose and I had just my front brake. After a few close calls I went down hard on my right forearm. After dusting myself off I continued forward. I felt blood trickling steadily off my elbow and stopped to inspect the carnage. It looked pretty bad, so when a few minutes later I came by a course marshall, I stopped for some first aid. She put some butterfly strips on the gash and wrapped my forearm with a bunch of gauze and told me to get to the first aid tent as soon as I could. I continued on racing, somewhere near dead last. I was able to catch a handful of riders over the next hour to finish 38th, but mostly I was just glad to finish the race.

Lisa's Solo Victory!

Lisa's race wasn't nearly as eventful as mine, but the result was a lot better! She lined up in the second row in the Expert Women's 19-29 group, and sprinted to hit the singletrack in first place. She put down her head and never looked back, powering away to a solo victory on a course that favored her power and bike handling skills.

We were back in Bozeman Tuesday morning, where we were welcomed back to reality with 6 inches of snow!