Xterra Panther Creek is a truly fun race and a great course. It is not the most difficult course that I have competed on but it sure does require skills in many different aspects of biking and running. There is a great amount of wide double track that rolls along allowing for those with strong legs to make up time or break away from the pack. The trail then turns into a fast flowy singletrack that is littered with roots and a mile long shale / loose rock outcropping that will keep you on your toes. It is hard to pin point exactly what type of rider will excel on this type of track since there are many different technical aspects to it.
Saturday morning I decided that I wanted to get my pre ride of the course in and be able to rest the rest of the day. I left from the campground and scouted out the run and bike course. Since it hadn’t change from the previous year I already knew where I was going. I was having a great ride until I came to the singletrack section of the trails. This was one of the most dense amounts of spider webs that I have ever rode through. I was unable to ride more than 20 feet before running through another one and feeling the tangled web in my helmet and all over me. I battled the webs for miles until I made it back to the boat ramp and lake. From the lake I finished out the front section of the bike course and took the run course back towards the campground. I was flying as fast as I could down the run trail since it was very wide and flat till I was bit by some type of flying bug on my left ear. I could feel it start to swell and turn warm to the touch. I started racing even faster to get out of the woods or at least away from whatever just hit me, until a huge thunderstorm started pouring down right on top of me. All in all you could say it was a pretty rough pre ride before race day.
GU Energy Stroopwafel with my breakfast!
Sunday morning starts with a warm shower to loosen the muscles, breakfast and then heading off to the race. Upon arrival I found that many other competitors decided that they too wanted to get up early and have a great transition spot to choose from. I found my spot, got all setup and was feeling great before race time. Once it was time for the race to start I headed to the water and got in a few short practice strokes to make sure I was ready. The “little” cannon that Dirty Bird Events uses to start races sure does pack a punch when going off! The race was underway and I was slowly but surely making my way along the swim course. I ended up getting out of the water in the front half of the pack which helped me out going into the woods. I was pedaling as hard as I could trying to catch the competitors that I knew would be in the front of the pack. After pushing very hard I found myself sitting in 2nd place with 3 miles to go in the bike leg. As I was flying down through the shell outcropping that made up the back portion of the course I heard a loud pop and a breeze on my leg as my tire turned. I knew that I had just flatted and a huge disappointed came over me. I rode on the tire for as long as I could until it came to a completely flat rim. I quickly got off the bike and grabbed all my tools from my saddle bag. As I was trying to take off the top of my valve core I dropped the piece in the leaves and it was nowhere to be found. I then tried to pull back the tire to break the bead seal and pore sealant in but the tire was still beaded with a hole in it. Knowing that I was only 2 miles from the end of the bike segment and already have gotten passed by 2 other racers I decided to jump on and ride the bike directly on the wheel. It was probably one of the funniest things to see from a third person aspect. I was sliding all over the place left and right trying to keep the bike upright on the slippery roots. There was only one hill that I actually had to get off and push up due to the wheel not grabbing on a pill of roots. After the hectic and hilarious bike segment I made it back to transition, threw on my running shoes and powered off. I was able to catch one other racer during the run which ended up giving me a 3rd place overall finish.
Talk about a bumpy ride
I was quite disappointed that I had blown out my tire on a sharp rock but in the end I was very happy that I could still pull out a 3rd overall finish, 3rd fastest bike split of the day and 2nd fastest run split. A huge shout out goes to Cycletherapy for always fixed the MANY pieces that I break riding my bike. Without their continuous support it would be impossible for me to keep rolling.
Coming in for the finish and then straight back into the lake
Alex Llinas and Alex Ohman are some very strong racers
Result: 1st age group – 3rd overall
Nutrition: GU Stroopwafel Tri Berry, GU Roctance Lemon Lime Drink Mix, GU Energy Chews Strawberry, GU Energy Gel Salted Watermelon and Strawberry Banana.
What I Learned: Sometimes things happen that you can’t always be prepared for or fix, so just make the most possible fun out of the situation.