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Dustin's Canal Crown Race Report

As May has come and now nearly gone, it means that we are in the midst of the Canal Crown TT series....more formally known as the Mountain Bike World Championships of Augusta!
For those not familiar with the series, it is an extremely fun race format that runs the Augusta Canal single-track clockwise and counterclockwise twice. You take your best recorded time from each direction, add it together and BOOM a king and queen are crowned! In all seriousness, I have always had a great time explaining this race format to friends because it is a highly unique event. Although the effort is consistent with a cross country mountain bike event, the intensity feels more like a downhill race where any mistake can cost you the lead in a race won by seconds!
More intriguing than the format is the inherent pressures of racing against your friends in front of the local community! We joke about it all year that this may be the most challenging race on the calendar for that very reason. However, after this being my 4th year participating it is best to remember what this race is...a grassroots event where you can hang out with friends while racing your bike to earn a plastic trophy and champagne of beer!
Round 1 came back two weeks ago with us running the counterclockwise direction. For me that is not the preferred direction and especially having crashed that direction on both runs last year. However, I got in a few good scouting / trail clean up laps and felt pretty good about heading to the start. The one major thing to note about this day was the course was dry....bone dry....and as a result it was both fast but loose. There is really not enough time in this race for any sort of game plan, so you head to the start planning to nail your lines and hope for the best! I got to start after the well-defined 3....2....1....Go on Go and immediately felt like I was rolling at a good pace. Nothing extraordinary happened during the lap, but I knew I was pushing a good pace when the rear kicked out a few times. I did notice dialing back in a few corners that were sandier than I had ever seen them before. Come to the finish line and BOOM stop the clock. I looked at my bike computer and felt really good about my time, but had more important things to night! I hadn't seen Cassie in a week and I was about to leave town for the weekend so we decided on a nice night of Mexican food and tasty! After a margarita or two or seven I got a text that I clocked a 9:40 which was a new course record! Mission accomplished!
Round 2 was just last night and I am certain this week's weather is fresh in everyone's mind. Drew made the call around lunch that we were going to race and he made a great decision! The course was greasy in a few spots, but overall was very flowy and fun. We were heading my favorite clockwise direction last night so it was panning out to be a great evening! Starting off the line it was clear this would not be a blisteringly fast night...there were too many greasy corners and the overarching soft earth does not favor speed. Every pedal stroke feels like it sends you 20% less distance than in dry conditions, but the beauty of bike racing is that these conditions were the same for everyone! What an equalizer! Coming into the finish line I was disappointed with my time to a certain degree, but pleased with how I rode the trail...10:05 = plenty of room for improvement next week!
After the race last night was the true fun of the canal crown. Josh, Jamie, Nate, and I got to cruise around for some extra time while catching up on life, lessons, and noting the true secret behind Nate's "Dirty South Bike Geometry." Don't worry Nate, your secret is safe....for a price. Just kidding! After spinning around we came back to the cabana area to watch the end of a race wave and catch up with folks around the area. What a great way to spend a Thursday night! Hope to see all of you again + more next week, let's make a stand against the clockwise direction!
Click here for the Ride with Dustin page complete with race schedule and post-race reports.