Sure Kamikaze is rooted in baggy shorts, goggles, and blazing down a mountain at the speed of a comet entering the atmosphere, however, the XC race is one of my favorite all year. The course is awesome and very similar to the USAC XC Nationals course of 2015 and 2016. It’s a little longer but still has the awesome Shotgun descent, which will leave you smiling at the end of each lap. The weather is also always amazing in the mountains in mid-September with chilly mornings and cool evenings.
This year the XC race was at 3pm on Friday. I love this race but every year I’m worried they’ll cancel it. The time slot gets worse and worse and for some reason the XC turnout is small, including the Pro field which features a nice payout of a few hundred bucks. I decided I’d be a crazy person and drive up super early Friday morning, race, and then hop in the car and get back to the family. Ambitious indeed.
Five o’clock came quickly and I was out the door by 6, which put me on the mountain around noon. Plenty of time for a warmup and to catch up with friends. I’d resigned myself to a second place finish behind Nick Beechan (which shows just how strong my ambition and mental fortitude are) but Nick hurt his knee a few weeks earlier and didn’t show up. For the first time in several years I was thinking I could win this race! With two second place finishes I really wanted to take the top step. I brought up the Anthem 27.5″ for kicks and did not regret the squish.
We started quick. Young guns Turner and Tate took off flying. I hung on their wheel the first little climb then passed before the singletrack. I could hear them close behind until we got into the woods then there was a gap, but when we hit the long climb they were right there again 10-15 seconds back. Ouch! I was throttled. Gradually toward the end of the first lap they fell farther back and by the middle of the second lap they were out of sight. I stepped off the gas a little on the last two laps but didn’t want to give away too much time. The altitude was searing the lungs but the Edge was keeping the leg burn down. Push push push.
Awards and back in the car for another 6 hours in the car. What a day! I’d do it all over again.