The Rocky Hill Roundup MTB race officially started off the 2015 Texas XC (Cross Country) MTB State Champion Series. The race is set in Rocky Hill Ranch, on the eastern outskirts of Texas Hill Country of Smithville, TX. If you’ve ever driven/ridden between Houston and Austin on Highway 71, you’ve gone through Smithville!
This winter I “cat-ed up” (upgraded racing categories) from Cat 3 (where beginners start) to Cat 2, with only one mountain bike race actually under my belt. While disciplines such as road or cyclocross racing typically require you to finish a certain amount of races or place well enough in X number of races to cat up, MTB XC is different with no requirement, allowing racers to move up when they feel is appropriate.
The real reason I moved from Cat 3 to Cat 2 was to cat up in cyclocross to Cat 4 (using some category equivalence trickery) because there was a race I wanted to do the same day as a wedding I was attending. That allowed me to race at an earlier time slot and still make it to the wedding hahaha. But being in Cat 2 MTB XC also means longer races, usually twice as long as the Cat 3 races. This just means more riding and racing to make the costs and travel a little more worth it!
The race started in 3 minute waves by category and age group (Cat 2, 19-29). I was at the front of the wave, having pre-registered online. After the hole shot, I was in about 8th place (out of 18). A gap started to form between me and the train of guys ahead. Finally someone behind me was yelling “CMON! CLOSE THAT GAP!”
I tried. But I was already gassed from an adrenaline-pumped race start, so I let them pass knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to hold my position and effort for over 1.5 hours! This course has everything: fast straight downhills, flat fire roads, twisty turny sections, piney woods, roots, shallow water crossings, big (by Houstonian standards) steep climbs, giant whoop-de-doos that could send someone to the ER. I got passed many times by the top guys in waves that started after me. Sometimes I’d tried to hang on to them for a little to keep my pace up.
Long story short, I finished 13/19 on a bike I had never ridden before. The course is hella fun by itself, so I was happy with the day! One of my goals for racing this year in MTB and CX is to start getting top 50% placing consistently, so I still have a bit to go!
My next race will be the Hill Country MTB Challenge in Comfort, TX (near San Antonio) during mid-March. POSSIBLY the Austin Rattler 100k to try and qualify for Leadville MTB 100 (??!!?!?!!!). Then finishing with the GHORBA Big Ring Challenge in May, where I placed 8th in the Cat 3 19-29 group last year!