Last Sunday I had the privilege of lining up to race with Gunn Rita Dahle and Jose Hermida both World Cup pro mountain bikers who race for Merida. They were invited by their sponsor to ride on one of the biggest amateur mtb races in Korea.
The course was 40km long with 10km of super tough single track that was muddy. The race started off ok for me but after climbing with the main group for a while I kind of blew up. The single track had a lot of unrideable climbs and I didn't do well with the constant running then biking with no recovery. Additionally at this race they had a new race category for all of the people who had won their age group at a race the previous year. Normally the categories are by age groups. This definitely made for a more competitive race! They also had 1,500 dollars on the line for the overall winner while second and third were only going to get 200 and 100!
Once the single track was over I started feeling better and started picking people off on the long double track sections. I finished the race in the top 15 over all but only 7th in my group.
It definitely wasn't my best race of the season but I have 2 more races left and I'm hoping to pick up a win at at least one of them! I got to talk a bit with Jose Hermida after the race and it was interesting to hear his perspective about mountain biking in Korea. He was impressed with the amount and quality of the trails here especially compared to other Asian countries. He was a very humble guy and very easy to talk too. Also Gunn Rita Dahle beat nearly all of the men on her own and was riding a lot of them climbs that everyone else was walking up.
My friend Yong Su Park ended up winning the race and the 1500 dollars. My race didn't go as well as I had hoped but I still really enjoyed this course and I'm looking forward to this weekends race. I'm going to be racing in the first CX race ever held in Korea! Should be interesting to see the course and a lot of fun to do a CX race since I haven't been able to do one in 3 years!