NORBA Finals time again and we were all back in Vermont for the final big race on the US Calendar. One last chance to giv’er the how she going and go at ‘er with the giv’er stick (eh?) before heading over to Europe for Worlds and World Cup Finals.
It is always a busy weekend at finals with people swapping business cards, rumours of new teams and contracts for the New Year, and trying to get the bikes and equipment in order for the final pull. This year is no different, and it is looking like things are starting to get a little healthier in the job market, at least in North America.
We all have a little bit of tech geek in us, and one of the cool parts about racing is getting to see and use the new stuff before Joe Public. For the tech geek in me this was a dream weekend because Peter (Wedge, Team Kona) and I were the first to saddle up and race with the long awaited, and much anticipated, all-new Shimano XTR groupset. We felt very privileged. Our mechanic Robin, along with the good help of the Shimano crew, went nutso on Thursday to get it all ready for us to ride in the afternoon and race the next day. Amazingly we had almost zero problems, and didn’t miss a shift first time out with the new system. It’s super simple and easy to get used to, and my favourite part of the new group is that I finally get to race with disc brakes without any weight penalty.
On to the racing, and it was super hot and heavy the whole weekend; I could barely get off the bed without sweating. The cross-country was a little frustrating because I just seemed to be marginally off the pace and the pack was painfully close except for Roland (Green, Trek/Volkswagen) and Ryder (Hesjedal, Subaru/Gary Fisher) who just rode away from everyone. I ended up tenth, just three-minutes behind (Paul) Rowney (Yeti/Pearl Izumi) in third. Never believe Rowney when he tells you he is hurting before the weekend; he went on to second in the STXC as well; bloody Aussies. Seamus (McGrath, Haro/Lee Dungarees) double-flatted, and with some outside help, finished just ahead of me which was a little frustrating because it bumped me into sixth overall. Pete was a little off on the day as well, but salvaged a pretty decent tenth overall for the series. Roland won every single XC race this year; greedy bastard. Thundershowers struck immediately after the event, turning the tech site into a river and collapsing a few thousand dollars worth of EZ-Ups.
Next up was the STXC, and my game plan was to sit on Ryder’s wheel. He seems to be the self-proclaimed King of the Short Track. My tactics were sound, but the snap just wasn’t quite there to seal the deal, and when Roland decided to lay it down at the finish I didn’t quite have the juice, finishing just off in sixth, and fourth overall which I was pretty happy with. Pete ended up in ninth on the day and 11th overall. It is a little confusing why the Canadians are so good at the STXC. The Americans seem to be coming on a little bit on the XC side of things, but the only guy who keeps messing up the Canuck podium sweep in the STXC is Rowney. On the day we had six out of the top seven.
After the races the Canucks congregated at the Luna Chix party, and drained the keg once again after the lame security cops shut it down for a short while. After some dinner we had to go check out the naked crit, because Pete wanted to figure out his new digital camera. He was successful in getting a few good blackmail shots to be used later.
After saying my goodbyes before taking off for home, I made sure to wish Tracy (Moseley) good luck in the DH and told her to go at ‘er with the giv’er stick. She completed a wicked North American campaign in the afternoon with the gold medal run which solidified her in 2nd overall for the series. Building some good momentum for Worlds. Also good to see a Canuck man doing good in the DH, with Dustin Adams grabbing the bronze in the race and 3rd overall in the series.
That’s it for North America this year. Talk to you from Europa…I hope the floods are gone so our plane can land.