20 October, 2008

Copa Chile Jeep #3 – Parque Aventura Geoexpediciones

Short track on steroids. That’s the best way to describe these Chilean World Cup style cross country race courses. They are longer, steeper and harder than short track courses, but still remind me more of short track courses than of cross country courses. Also, racing them tends to be more like a short track race than a cross country race: you do the same course over and over and you have to stay far enough ahead to keep from being lapped by the leaders and pulled out of the race.
That is very much how the race this last Saturday, October 18th, seemed to me, except I wasn’t especially worried about being caught by the leaders. The Elite (Pro) and Sub-23 (Under 23) racers did 6 laps on the 3.85 mile course and by the end, I knew every turn, rut, and tree like I’d ridden the course every day of my life. The course was full of short, steep climbs and rutted, loose descents mixed in with fast, flowy singletrack that was a dream to ride. There were a few flat sections that were a little rough on the hardtail and a few road sections, but most of the course was singletrack and amazingly fun!
The race started off fast, like last weekend, but fortunately the starting stretch was nice and wide so I was able to sprint around the outside and sit myself somewhere around 10th place right from the get-go. I spent most of the race somewhere around 7th place until the 4th lap when I felt like I was beginning to bonk. At that point I pulled myself back a little bit and focused on hydrating and “Hammer Gel”-ing until the last (6th) lap when I felt good again and put in a big effort to catch the two guys ahead of me. I ended up catching both of them (and even putting a few minutes on them) and finished in 6th place overall.
Once I finished, there was a bit of confusion. I’m not sure exactly why, but apparently the UCI officials had thought that I was racing Elite so they originally told me I finished 4th (in the Elites). I was happy to hear that I had done so well, but was slightly annoyed because I figured I must have done pretty well in the Sub-23 race as well. Once the judges figured out that I had indeed registered as a Sub-23, they told me that I had finished 3rd and that I needed to get to the podium ASAP. So I ran over to the podium and was waiting around for the awards ceremony to start when I was called back to the finish line to be told that the judges had been wrong and I had actually finished 4th in the Sub-23 race. I was also told that the Sub-23 racer who finished 3rd had only finished 1 second ahead of me. I wondered if there had been some kind of mistake because I knew that there had been no one near me when I finished but I didn’t want to annoy the officials, so I accepted it for what it was and went home. The next day though, when I was checking results, the website said that I had indeed finished in 3rd place, and had been accidentally tricked out of my first chance at an international podium and a medal (they only award 3 deep in each category). And now, 3 days later, I checked the results again and they said that I did actually finish in 4th. Because I thought that I had missed my chance at a podium shot, Victoria drew a podium picture for me (see picture). I think it does it pretty good justice (if I had finished 3rd).
I am also not sure how many UCI points I got. It was either 6 or 16. Unfortunately, I do not know which because according to the UCI website, the race was a Category 1 UCI race, but according to the Copa Chile website, it was a Category 2 UCI race. Either way, I got some points. I really hope it was Category 1 though...

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