July 2023 - Mountain Bike National Championships

Written by Casey Hildebrandt 

"It was a great week at the Mountain Bike National Championships at Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania. The weather was hot and humid from arrival through XCO racing on Saturday. The course was a proper XCO course with ski hill and singletrack climbs paired with technical, rocky descents back down the mountain. 

With the heat index reaching 105° the nutrition and cooling strategies were out in full effect. Before the start of the pro women’s race, we were notified that the final two races of the day (pro women and men) would be doing four laps instead of the five planned laps. I started with an ice sock and 550 mL bottle with 90g CHO (two scoops of Blueberry Agave + one scoop of high sodium flavorless). I drank ½ bottle in the warm up (45g CHO)  and had one serving of the new Rainbow Fruit Blast flavor of the endurance gel mix. 

For the race itself, I went to the start line with an ice sock so large it filled the inside of my helmet! I prefer to race with two bottles on the bike at all times, even in an XCO race with short laps. This way, if I lose a bottle I have a back-up ready to go. My primary bottle was three scoops or 90g CHO (two scoops of Blueberry Agave + one scoop of high sodium flavorless) and my back-up bottle was plain water, which I could use to dump on my body and/or drink as needed. I also took another gel serving in the race. This totaled roughly 215g CHO over the course of 2ish hours (start of warm-up to finish of race) for a total of over 100g CHO per hour. The race was tough physically and I struggled to push the pace, but had enough at the end to outkick fellow Flow athlete Jeremiah Bishop for 16th place. 

Sunday was a new opportunity to push the limits - both mental and physical - and go big in the XCC race. The temps were high again, but storms rolled in and the skies opened up. The weather made a turn for the worse with severe thunderstorms and lightning, which was an automatic weather delay. The storms continued throughout the afternoon and I snacked on a couple of PB&J sandwiches and had half of a bruschetta pizza at 5:15 PM. Shortly thereafter at 5:30 PM - after nearly three hours of delays - a final decision was made to get the XCC races in on a modified lap. The course opened at 6:00 PM for pre-ride. Junior Men 17-18 would start at 6:20 PM, Pro Women would start at 6:40 PM, and lastly Pro Men would start at 7:00 PM. With my pizza giving me plenty of fuel, I decided to skip the pre-ride time and watch the descent of the Pro Women race as my recon. During my warm-up on the rollers and out of the rain, I had ½  550 mL bottle with 90g CHO (45g CHO). The modified lap had all the climbing and more from the original lap, but was shorter overall.

Blevins, Amos, and Riley took off from the gun and there was a crash just behind them that I barely snuck by as a rear wheel of a rider who flipped over the bars drilled me on the left shoulder. The top three opened a gap on the start climb, but I settled into the field and started to move up each lap. I did my best to climb strong and use the bike handling skills to carry speed through the wild ruts and off camber turns on the descents. At the end of lap one, I was in 9th. At the end of lap two, I was in 7th. At the end of lap three, I was in 5th. On lap five I was able to shake Saturday’s XCO bronze medalist Luke Vrowenvelder and push the pace to the finish line to finish 5th place. 

Photo by Bill Schieken - CX Hairs

Up next is the 6th round of WORS (Wisconsin Off Road Series), which is also our state championship event. After that I’ll set off on a mini bikepacking trip followed by another trip to Gitchi Gami (Lake Superior) for Ore To Shore again!"

Written by Staff Account

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