Tuesday, June 5, 2012

2012 US Cup East Triple Crown/Bump 'n' Grind--Birmingham, AL (6/2&3/12)

This weekend my dad and I took a guys only trip to Birmingham, Alabama to compete in the US Cup East Triple Crown event being held at Bump 'n' Grind. We actually left a couple of days early to get there because the first events were on Saturday and we wanted to be able to do all of our pre-riding on Friday. Unfortunately, that meant that I would miss the 5th grade awards assembly at my school. Mr. Bowie, my teacher, really didn't want me to miss it, but I didn't have much choice. Birmingham is a long drive and if we wanted to be ready to race, we had to be there on Friday. (Hopefully Mr. Bowie isn't too mad at me.)
Waiting for the start of the Cross-Country race
Friday's pre-ride went really well. We spent a lot of time practicing at Blood Rock because last year my dad was afraid of it and decided to just jump off and run it, which worked out well for him because he ended up on the podium. I had decided to do the same thing, but after riding it like 10 times, I felt like I could definitely do it for the downhill race and I was going to give it a shot.

Me riding Blood Rock during the Super D

The short track event was actually the first one we did on Saturday. It is called Turn and Burn. Unfortunately, my dad thought it would be run the same way as last year, where everyone starts in one direction and when the whistle blows, everyone has to turn around and the race actually starts. We stayed in the back thinking we would be in the front when the whistle blew, but (psyche!!) there was no whistle. They didn't do the "turn" part this year, and we hesitated a long time before realizing it, so we got to play catch up.

Despite the fact that the electronic scoring at Bump 'n' Grind was all messed up and we didn't get to see any results on Saturday, my dad and I thought we did really well. We woke up Sunday morning excited to do our favorite event, the Cross-Country. I was super excited too because this is the first time I would be racing head-to-head with the 15-18 year old Cat 2 Juniors. After comparing my times with the guys at the SERC, I was feeling pretty confident that I would be able to hold my own, even though I was the youngest competitor at the event.

Igor and me
Our group went off with the Cat 2 Clydesdales. When we lined up, I was right next to a REALLY tall guy named Igor (he's 7'1" tall). The announcer was joking around about it being a race between the tallest and the smallest. It was pretty funny. After the race, he interviewed us and it was great.

Carter and me after the race
When it was time to finally race, I went into serious mode and took the hole shot, which I knew was important. Then, I tried to settle into the lead. Carter Anderson, a Cat 2 Junior I know from the SERC series, attacked me on the gravel road going over a dam and took the lead away from me. When we got to the other side and went into double-track going downhill, I attacked him back and got in front again.

My silly face crossing the finish line

When I got far enough ahead that I didn't see him, I tried to use what I learned from all the races I've done and just settle in, ride my race, and protect the lead and my bike. I was so excited with the win that I did a silly sprint to the finish. It was awesome!! Even better, I walked away with $80 in prize money. Carter ended up placing second and he went home with a check as well.

My dad ended up finishing the Cross-Country race in second place, which is pretty amazing since he got two flat tires during the race. I ended up winning the Omnium for Cat 2 Juniors, placing first in all three events. It was a perfect day and a great weekend! The second Triple Crown event takes place next weekend at the Massanutten Hoo-Ha, but I'm going to miss it because I'll be at mountain bike camp all week with several of the guys I race against (can't wait!). Fortunately, I only have to do 2 of them to qualify for overall awards, and the third one is at the final SERC race in Fontana, North Carolina in August, which I will definitely be racing.