Back in the saddle
This was Joshua’s first ride back since he fractured his collarbone at the Gravity East Series race at Mountain Creek on June 1, 2013. That is 7 weeks off the saddle.
What did we do during this time off?
We started assessing what has happened so far this year. We felt that his speed and ability had progressed just like we had hoped based on the off-season work. However, we had yet to have a clean race run this season.
Race run crashes
Injuries came during practice runs…
Windrock #1 practice run #3 crash and fractured hand.
Mountain Creek practice run #2 crash and fractured collarbone.
With the above information some would question the next thing we started to consider. That was trying to move him up to CAT 1 juniors. We gave this a lot of thought and discussed it with some riders and others in the “know”. I have to give a special thank you to Daniel McDonald. I called him to get his advice about making this move to CAT 1. After lots of family deliberation we decided to petition USAC for the move. His petition was accepted and is now a CAT 1 racer. Now it’s a wait and see if we made the correct decision.
So, back to this weekend.
Joshua’s first race back after 7 weeks off and he raced his first CAT 1-18 under race. Boy, we picked a race loaded with BIG hitters to come back and move up at the same time. Luca Shaw, Jay Fesperman, Walker Shaw, Will O’Brien and others. That was the also their finishing order. Check out all the result here.
We arrived at Snowshoe on Wednesday around 2:30 in the afternoon in hopes that Joshua could get some FUN runs in the Basin side. It was muddy, slick and storms were threatening all afternoon. They ended up shutting the lifts down after his 3 run because of storms.
I quickly gave the bike a wash and we headed down to Whistlepunk to get our gear unloaded. We got settled in and decided to put Where the Trail Ends in the BluRay player. Shortly after that Eric Vest, Jay Fesperman and Matt Branney showed up. Jimmy Leslie rolled in a little later. Joshua did like he normally does when he rides/races, headed to bed around 9:30. He tries to stay on his schedule no matter who’s around.
Thursday morning the boys got up, ate, then headed out for a course walk. The race course was closed for riding on Thursday. This was good opportunity for Joshua to listen to Jay, Eric, Jimmy and Matt about possible line choices. Line choice is so key in racing but it has to be combined with the correct form and speed. After they returned everyone started getting ready and headed over for practice. Joshua hopped on the back of the train to follow everyone down. On the third run down Jay decided to to head down Lower Hare Ball. For those that don’t know that trail let me say, too much for 3rd run back after 7 weeks off. Joshua did the smart thing and only rode the parts he felt comfortable with. It ended up being a good day of riding. Joshua told me he felt sketchy for about half of the day but things started feeling better by the end. Went to the bike wash to get it the bike looking good again and told Joshua to hang out and we would go register when I finished.
Headed over to registration and started filling out all the paperwork. Got to say thank you to Snowshoe Bike Park for the sponsorship. The support they give the kids are appreciated both by the team and the parents. The staff at Snowshoe are top notch and always accommodating to all riders from the beginner to the pro. Got registered and headed back to Whistlepunk. Diane had told us dinner would be ready at 7:00 pm; she was right on time and man-o-man was it good. Joshua said this was like staying a five-star hotel. The team worked on bikes and rode bikes around for a while
Friday was new day… It was open practice and the race course was open for racers only. Joshua did his usual thing; ride, ride, and ride. Diane Leslie had lunch ready and the team headed in for some grub. After a small break everyone headed back out for some more practice. Around 3:40 I walked over to lift with some water for Joshua. I stood there and talked with the great guys working the lifts for about 30 minutes, Joshua was a no show. I finally ask Matt F. if he had seen the GROM team and he told me they went to the basin side. I went and grabbed the wash bucket and started my walk to the village. I found everyone there starting to wash bikes. I grabbed the bike from Joshua and started giving the bike a GOOD wash.
My wife and daughter rolled in around 5:00 pm and headed to Mountain Lodge to check-in. We decided to stay in a different place with the entire family there. Got everything moved from Whistlepunk and got ready to head back down to eat with the team. Another awesome dinner by Diane. We said our good nights and like clock work, Joshua was ready for bed at 9:30.
Another new day on Saturday. It was an early start, CAT 1 and Pro practice started at 8:00 am. Diane had breakfast ready at 7:30 am. Joshua drank his RynoPower protein drink and took his RynoPower supplements and headed down to meetup with the team. Today would be split practices, CAT 1/Pro, CAT 2/CAT 3, then open and in the middle of all that would be the dual slalom race. We had 2 GROM teammates racing in slalom, David Dressler and Michael Kane. They had a great showing, David with a 2nd place and Michael with a 3rd place.
Bikes got washed then headed back for another wonderful dinner by Diane. After dinner it was time to work on the bikes. Everyone was going over the bikes, doing bolt checks, making sure everything was lubed and ready. Some went a lot deeper than that, Eric was pulling his bike apart. He had the crank out to clean and grease. In the middle of all this we got the team to put on the race kits and headed out to get team pictures and head shots. See, this was the first race that the entire team was at the same race. We had a great time joking around and cutting up while getting the pictures done. Then is was back to work. Joshua was in bed at 10:00 pm.
Sunday…RACE DAY. We did our normal routine. I got Joshua up to take a hot shower and stretch out. I laid out the gear and got his protein/carbo drink and supplements ready. After his shower he got on the roller for more stretching. While he was dressing we talked about his goals for this race of firsts.
Goal #1: Have a clean run
Goal #2: Not finish last
You may say what kind of goals are those. I say attainable goals. We needed to get a clean race run under the belt so we decided the race run would be no greater than 95% effort.
I could tell Joshua was nervous. He had 2 runs to put down today, Seeding and Race. He might not like this but I think he didn’t want to embarrass himself. He has a lot of respect for all the riders and looks up to a lot of them that race this class. Everyone has treated Joshua great but I also told him that he will have to earn their respect and that will develop more and more each week. Just keep putting in the hard work.
He ended practice on a good run and sat down to rest before the seeding run. Not sure what to expect just made him more nervous. The number 102 meant he was the second in the gate for seeding. We had already decided to run about 90% effort; clean and smooth. I know he sat in the gate for 10 minutes while they ironed out some timing issues. He said he was glad because he was able to calm himself and relax. I thought it would have done the opposite. After he passed me in the woods it was a waiting game, waiting for him to pass overhead on the lift. When he got back to the pit he told me his run was smooth but no times had posted, so another waiting game. He pulled off his Leatt neckbrace and pressure suit to cool off and wait. When times were posted we found out how far off he was. He ran a 5:22 so it was time to talk.
I sat next to him and we discussed how he felt. He said he was good but could tell he had lost some of speed (ie: confidence). I tried to let him know it was okay and not to worry too much. He ask what time should he shoot for and I thought a sub-five minute run would be good. I stressed that a clean-smooth run was most important. Matt Fitzgerald shared some advice Christopher Herndon had given him and I passed it on to Josh for his race run.
As his start time got closer I helped him get ready. He got ready and started warming up. When he headed over to the gate I headed down the lift. Got to the bottom and proceeded to the last jump coming down to the finish-line to wait. As he popped out of the woods I knew it was going to be too close to call about the sub-five run. Well, he missed that goal with a run of 5:14. That is exactly 1:00 minute off of Luca’s time. Believe me, this is not where we want to be but we have a CLEAN RUN. He told me he had one small mistake, he stubbed his pedal out of a turn and unclipped but didn’t think that cost him much time at all.
So, where were we on the goals… ACCOMPLISHED.
Now, everything starts over this week for the race at Beech Mountain.
Thanks again to all our sponsors…