Sorry for not posting on here in a while. School has been really busy lately but I've still been getting out to some races.
2 weeks ago I raced in the YongPyong Resort mountain bike festival. The race was out in PyongChang and will host the downhill at the 2018 winter Olympics. Saturday morning I had an individual XC race that consisted of 4 laps of a 4km course that was pretty difficult. It started out with a huge steep muddy climb then switch backed down the ski hill before another short climb and downhill to the finish. I started out well and was with the leaders of my age group but I faded hard after the first lap and ended up finishing last in my age group but that was still good enough for 4th! I got a nice pair of Schwalbe mountain bike tires for my efforts. I wasn't feeling good in teh race because the previous day I didn't get to ride at all. Generally when I don't ride at all the day before a race I end up racing like crud.
However on Sunday there was a good chance to redeem myself with a 5 man team relay. The course was a shortened version of the XC course at just under 3km with just the big climb and downhill. There were 6 teams of 5 in the race. We sent our slowest 2 riders off first and ended up in 3rd for the first 2 legs but our 3rd leg rider Ji Haeng(our strongest mtb rider) managed to pull us even with the 1st place team by the end of his leg. I was the 4th rider and started right with the another team with 3rd place just a few seconds behind us. Luckily a race like this (super short and hard) is pretty well suited to me and I was able to open up a gap on the climb and further open it on the downhill. Going into our last leg Kang Yeon Deok only had to keep the gap to finish it off. We won 1.5 million won(about $1,500) for our efforts. That was my first mtb relay ever but I hope they have more next year.
After a 2 week break from racing I raced one of my favorite races in Korea yesterday. The Dangjin MTB road race. Its held on a 40km course thats primarily flat but with a few short climbs, single track sections and long dirt road sections to keep it interesting. The lead group always forms on the only major climb of the race so I made sure I was at the front for it. Its a gravel up hill and single track downhill and I started on my teammate Ji Haeng's wheel. He attacked up the climb and I followed him and at the bottom of the downhill we had a 10 meter or so gap to the next rider. We started rotating on the long flat road along the seashore to try and distance ourselves but within the next 4km or so we were joined by 6 other riders. Luckily for me there was only one other rider in my age group and he was my teammate HwanGeol so I didn't need to worry too much. But there was also a team competition based on age group placings and JiHaeng had 2 other riders from his group to contend with. I wanted to help him win his group so we could score maximum points. We worked well together and then we hit a long hard dirt road section. I decided to attack to try and drop some of the guys from JiHaeng's age group but only succeeded in getting rid of one of them. I knew it would come down to a sprint which JiHaeng led out. However with 200m to go a car suddenly pulled out in front of our group. Everyone got around it but JiHaeng had to slam on his brakes and got passed by the other rider from his age group. HwanGeol was also ahead of me at the time but I was happy to finish second. We ended up finishing 3rd in team comp with the points we scored which got us enough money to have a delicous lunch of duck meat. I got 80kg of rice for finishing second and my teammate HwanGeol got 100kg for getting first in our age group.
I really like the Dangjin race because it combines the tactics of road racing with the skills needed for mtb racing. I always think it makes for a fun and dynamic race. Up for this weekend is the Korea Mountain Bike Grand Prix. Its a 60km mtb race and looks like it will have some pretty fast riders in it. I'm feeling
pretty good so I'm hoping I can pull off a top 3 result in my age group.
Here is a picture of my team on the podium after the relay race at YongPyong.