2011 Skyline Park Mountain Bike Race - The 2nd stop of the 2011 Sierra Cup MTB Series - Race Report

Skyline is one of my favorite mountain bike races.  Hard climbs, with technical sections that many racers walk.  Steep rocky descents with tight switchbacks that draws spectators hungry for blood.  Forced bunny hopping and hike-a-bike sections.  What's not to like?  

This is the kind of course that favors my riding style.  I've done well at this race in the past when I raced Sport.  I have not had such good luck as an Expert (Cat 1) racer.  Last year was brutally hot and I DNF'd because I ran out of water and was getting severely dehydrated by the 3rd lap.

Three weeks ago I raced the Boggs Mountain Bash on my Giant XTC 29er hardtail with a 6 speed cassette.  It was a great race, I went hard and was rewarded with 2nd place.  I ended up racing the XTC because my Anthem X's rear brake needed to be replaced.  The chain also had to be replaced after breaking it during the Shasta Lemurian race.

So after putting a chain and new caliper on the Anthem X I went out for my Tune Up ride, did the work out and the whole time wasn't feeling very comfortable on the bike.  The rear brake didn't feel right and I have never felt very comfortable with the front end of this bike.  I've fiddled many times with the Rock Shox Sid but it just never feels like a Fox Float does.  It feels like the front end of this bike, though pretty far away, is always too low as if I am going to endo any moment.  I've raced some fast and technical stuff on this bike and have never gone over the bars, but it just feels like i'm going to any moment.  This could be a symptom of riding the 29'er a lot and then hopping on the 26" wheeled bike.  Either way, I was not happy with how the bike felt.  I was in good working order otherwise.

Up early and out the door.  Bill and I arrived at Skyline Park around 8:45 am, enough time to register and warm up.  Things were looking good.

The start at Skyline is always a cluster fuck and as expected a racer went down within the first 100 feet of starting and so the race was quickly strung out.  Fortunately there is a lot of fire road climbing to sort things out and I was able to pick up a number of places.  Going into the first steep section there were a handful of racers walking but I was able to pedal by them and keep my momentum.  We got to the first singletrack and I got behind a slower descender, I took the time to relax a bit, get some water and look for a spot to pass. 

The racer let me by on a downhill switchback and I passed and was shifting up to take a tight uphill right hand corner when my chain got mangled up and fell off the chainrings.  I hopped off the bike, fixed it and and lost about 6 places.  Back on and I was able to pass a few guys in the next wide rocky section.  After a little hairy, fast and bumpy descending there was a short pitch up, I shifted to an easier gear, heard some crunching and lost ALL forward momentum.  My chain broke.  Ugh.  About a third into my first lap and my chain breaks.  This is not good.

I drag the bike off the trail and calmly pull out my chain tool and proceed to put the chain back together.  Hadn't I just done this a month and a half ago?  It is so incredibly painful having to be calm and focused fixing a broken chain and see person after person after person go by in your periphery vision. 

After 3 to 4 minutes I was back on the trail walking behind another rider who was wasling.  We get to where the trail flattens out and the rider gets back on his bike, weaving back and forth, having a hard time clipping in all the time.  I keep walking behind him because I'm not walksing any slower that he is riding.  I finally get on and realize he's still riding pretty slow.  

I get past him and there is a very fast and fun smooth descent into a creek crossing.  I pick a bad line through the creek crossing and have to hike up the other side.  A young racer comes by me and I ask him if he's a Cat 2 (Sport) racer because I'm starting to get afraid it took me so long to fix my chain i'm stuck in the back with the Sport class.  He confirms my suspicion and this is when I start to get nervous because there is nothing but tight, technical and steep singletrack between here and the start of the next lap.

I pass a couple guys on the hike-a-bike coming out of the lake and as we get started on the singletrack it sinks in how slow the group I am now with is riding.  I used to race Sport and I used to ride at this pace, but that was years ago and the guys i'm racing, the Expert class, is going faster and pulling further and further away from me and as long as I'm with this group there is no chance that I am going to catch my group.


I back off a bit, try to relax and give these guys the space they need.  I try to pass when it's safe and clear but i'm not able to pass many because there are just no places to pass.  At one point I get past a small group and there is some space between them and the group in front of them.  I open it up and tear off up the singletrack going fast and it feels good, it feels fast, it feels right and just then I catch the group that was in front of us.


So as much as I love this race, and this course I decided I was going to have a more fun, and a less frustrating day, if I just did two laps (instead of 3) and went back to the car and pulled my beers out of the cooler.  So, that's what I did.  I finished my 2nd lap, told the officials I was a DNF and drank beer in the hot sun.  I talked to friends and made some new ones and enjoyed myself.  

Bill drove back.

Photo stolen from Captivating Sports and Events photos


CX Sims #1

Tonight was the first night of CX sims.  Frickin' blast!  We hightailed it down to the BLM land west of Grass Valley and put together a very challenging .6 mile course shown below (ignore section that connects in the center).  We ran this clockwise.  One run up section, one big puddle you had to run around, one big big dip that was a thrill on a cross bike, some muddy spots, berms, jumps, baby heads, you name it!  The fellas that won tonight were on single speed mountain bikes.  As I said, this was a very challenging course.  We'll head there again next week.


Endurance Training - Super Punisher 2009

Up and down the Tahoe Rim Trail from Spooner Lake to Mr. Toads Wild Ride. Down Mr. Toads via some trails and neighborhoods to downtown South Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe Rim Trail:
43.08 Miles
6976 Feet Climbing
7:15 Hours
4821 Calories
144 Average HR
181 Max HR

Bottom of Mr. Toads to South Lake Tahoe:
9.69 Miles
514 Feet Climbing
1:00 Hours
594 Calories
119 Average HR
152 Max HR

52.77 Miles
7490 Feet Climbing
8:15 Hours
5415 Calories

The players: vuduvgn (your host), The Believer, AARP (formerly known as Raphael), Mr. Positive (formerly known as Billiam) and Don Adams.

Low riding in luxury. The Lexus was not designed for this.

AARP & The Believer relax in the hotel the night before.

The Believer and Mr. Positive climbing up from Spooner Summit.

Mr. Positive, The Believer and Don Adams climbing on the Tahoe Rim Trail.

The Believer and Mr. Positive about a mile before arriving at 'The Bench'.

AARP pushing his bike.

AARP checking out the view of Lake Tahoe.

The Believer and Don Adams on the Tahoe Rim Trail.

The Believer and Don Adams on the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Left to right: The Believer, Don Adams, AARP, Mr. Positive & vuduvgn; at 'The Bench'.

At the end of a really great section of technical singletrack. Waiting for AARP to arrive.

Pushing across a shortcut at Heavenly Mountain Resort.

It was rideable.

Don Adams on a nice example of Tahoe Rim Trail granite singletrack.

Mr. Positive's rear linkage tried to disassemble itself during the ride. We took it apart and put it back together on the trail. Better that than it coming apart on a fast section of rough singletrack.

Nice view of The Believer above Carson Valley.

Amazingly beautiful section of the Tahoe Rim Trail with the Carson Valley below and east of us. Big drop offs on the side of the trail.

Is that Jobs Sister in the background? We're headed just below that to Star Lake, then up to Freel Pass.

Walking across the stream coming out of Star Lake.

Fresh spring water. Word on the internets is that it takes 2 weeks for Guardia to hit, we should know by this Saturday's Downieville Classic Race...

Don Adams riding up to Freel Pass near a small snow drift.

AARP pushing up to Freel Pass. At this point the temperature was in the mid 80's and we were close to 9000 feet in elevation. My bike felt like it weighed about 50 pounds, not the true 28 pounds...

View of the lake from near Freel Pass.

Don Adams climbing over the snow field at Freel Pass.

AARP descending some really fun decomposing granite singletrack from Freel Pass.

AARP along the Rim Trail just down the hill from Freel Pass. Mr. Positive is behind me fixing a flat.

High point of the days was 9440+/- feet.

Decomosed granite trail. I think this is Armstrong Pass.

AARP, Don Adams, The Believer, & vuduvgn just above Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

Waiting for the shuttle vehicle after the ride. The swim felt great!

Another excellent Super Punisher in the books!


Basic V - 4 1/2 Hours - Exploring

Up Boulder Street
Up Red Dog Road
Up Pasquale Road
Along ditch trail next to Pasquale Road
Up Cascade Loop
Up Spanish Lane
Along NID ditch
Up road Google doesn't know the name of
Up Chalk Bluff Road
Down Pioneer Trail
Down Hwy 20
Down Pioneer Trail
Down Willow Valley Road
37.91 Miles
3921 Feet Climbing
4:33 Hours
3251 Calories
127 Average HR
173 Max HR
65 Average Cadence

On the CX bike, accompanied by The Believer. Great exploration ride, have to go back to do some more exploring. Found an amazing waterfall in the middle of nowhere. Also saw two deer, a large turkey fly across the road and soar down into a canyon and a +/-250# black bear.


Basic V - 2 1/2 Hours - Scott's Drop

Up Dieter's Trails
Up Snow Mountain Ditch
Up Willow Valley Road
Up Lone Grave
Down Scott's Drop
Along Scott's Flat Lake trail
Down to Lower Scotts Lake
Up Scott's Flat Dam Road
Up Scott's Flat Road
Down Pioneer Trail
Down Miner's Trail
20.27 Miles
2566 Feet Climbing
2:36 Hours
2040 Calories
123 Average HR
173 Max HR

All of us were on singlespeeds. Tired from weekend of lots of riding and racing. Accompanied by The Believer, Raphael, Trucker and The Teacher.


Basic V - 7 Hours - Tandem Road Ride - Chico Wildflower

Chico to Paradise via Honey Run Road
to Pentz via Pentz Road
to Cherokee via Cherokee Road
to Pentz via Pentz Road
to Durham via Pentz Durham Road
to Chico via Oroville Chico Highway

72.48 Miles
4377 Feet Climbing
7:07 Hours
4321 Calories
122 Average HR
164 Max HR

On the tandem with wifers. Accompanied by Don Adams, The Believer, Supergirl, Raphael and his wife.


2009 Shasta Lemurian

2009 Shasta Lemurian - Long Course
24.26 Miles
4779 Feet Climbing
2:40 Hours
2458 Calories
169 Average Heart Rate
184 Max Heart Rate
72 Average Cadence
(GPS missed the first 1/2 mile or so of race - operator error)

Time: 2:40:22 - 18:41 off leader
7th Place of 26 Finishers