US Cup East #8 took us to Woolwine, VA. This is an awesome course which makes me homesick, as it is similar to trails back in MI. It has some great technical singletrack and some demanding climbs with sections of speed to top it off.
This course is almost a "home course" for me as it is just a 1hr drive to the venue. I know the trails pretty well, mainly due to a 6hr race last fall. However, most of the course for this race would be in the opposite direction. So, to further prepare I took a couple of drives up for some pre-riding of the course ahead of time and managed to get in a solid 5 laps with the last being Saturday afternoon just before Sunday's race. The course was in good condition and had dried-out some since the previous trip 6 days earlier, but it still had slick portions which were mostly in corners and on the climbs. Saturday night brought more rain, but the course builder/team member/race organizer, Eric O'Connell, rode it early Sunday morning and assured us it did not get any worse.
The race had a somewhat low attendance, which was a shame due to being such a great course. I would say my favorite to this point in the US Cup East series! At the start line I noticed a few missing faces, but also a few new to the series who I recently raced in the Bedford, VA race. The start went as planned and the hole-shot was a breeze. Riding the 34/18 due to the slick trails had me curious what the others would be running. Well, my huge lead dwindled as I struggled to control the power to the rear wheel as it kept wanting to break loose and spin as we climbed up the first 2 miles of the course. Just as I was about the crest the final climb I spun almost coming to a stop as I was almost doing a track-stand as a result. This cause the rider who had bridged-up to rub my back wheel, and while doing so yelled my name out loud! I chuckled inside, mostly because knowing him from the previous race there was no way he would be able to hang once I cleared the climb. With that I hammered across the false-flat through a section of singletrack to start a switchback descent. Within seconds I opened a gap, and by the time I came around the 1st half of the course to the flyover bridge we went under entering the trail at the start of the lap I was out of sight of the competition. From that point on it was just mind over matter when it came to slick climbs, and skills when bombing the descents and rocks. The hardest part was the heat and humidity topped-off with no air movement in the trails. The jersey came unzipped after the first climb, and before going over the flyover bridge I had tossed my sweat splattered glasses to Julie. Finishing the race I had just over a 5min gap claiming my 4th win of the series. Next up, race#9 in Fort Payne, AL...I've been waiting for this one since race#1 when I was told about how rocky-technical it was....see ya there!!