I found out Saturday morning as I left home that I would be racing Sunday. I tried to get into this race on New Years Eve. I submitted my entry at Midnight and 05 seconds. I later found out that, somehow, I didn’t make the cut and have been bitter about it since. I was very please to find out I got in and I am in debt to a few people now (thank you Cruz brothers and Curtis!!!). Gladly so. Racing on Sunday changed my drinking plans for the weekend, which was kind of disappointing, but I was excited to race.
We arrived around 2:pm on Saturday and our friends had found a great campsite under some big oak trees about 100 feet from real bathrooms and showers. Socialized, drank beers and walked around for a few hours. Did a short pre-ride, but could only find the first small loops of the course. Got to see a Swedish fellow perform a spectacular crash in one of the switchback descents. Spectacular!
Right when we returned from the pre-ride we headed over to the bowling alley to watch the Decider. (btw, I thought G.W. was the decider... I guess this isn't a trademarked term...). Left towards the end of the first frame, headed back to camp to fire up the veggie bbq. Camp was quiet around 9:30 pm and started to get sleepy. Around 10 I decided to head to the tent. I then started to realize the partying was starting. Big bonfire around the corner, some yelling and boozing. People yelling at boozers that "there is a race tomorrow, i'm trying to get some sleep!" etc.
I was woken up at 3:00 am on the dot by some very violent vomiting a few tents over. This fella was having a rough time of it. It was loud and juicy! We didn't confirm, but I hope he survived.
Got up around 7:30, had some breakfast, made Mimosa's for my campmates and myself and sought out some coffee. Found the caffeine (thanks Pat!) and got ready for the race.
I had about 20 minutes to warm up before the race so I did some hill climbing and found my heart rate was very easily going high, a good sign.
Ding and I right before the race.
My camp mate (Ding) and I put our bikes down the hill in the field as instructed and walked back up for the start. Go! We ran around the horse corral and back to our bikes with everybody else. It took some work to navigate through the runners headed to their bikes and the riders headed to the course. Got on course and started my GPS. I was immediately passing riders on the flat gravel road. As the gravel pointed up I kept passing people, but not as quickly. Since I’ve raced at this location a few times I knew what to expect, so I was able to navigate some of the slightly technical sections of the climb better than others and was able to keep passing. The fire road got real steep and loose and everybody started walking. I figured that I might as well keep my heart rate pinned so I walked as hard as I could and kept passing people. Walk hard! My goal on the climb was to find as many shaved legs as I could and pass them. From my experience on this course, I descend the tricky sections better than most people so as to not lose time I have to beat the roadies to the top (same strategy as Downieville). We got to the top and the trail pointed down, steep down, real quick, with really tight switchbacks and rocks in the middle of them. I passed Tiffany (1x SSWC champ) in the first switchback and hit the gas. There were (of course) many riders in front of me and I couldn’t get around so I took it easy, relaxed and rested.
Next was the single track climb back to the top, I was able to ride with Tiffany during this section, we picked a few people off, some passed us. Made it to the bagpiper (I was very pleased to hear this guy and was surprise how much I liked the sound) and took a left. Fast, fast, fast into the corners, keep the momentum on the dips and don’t lose any ground. Felt good going into the lake section. On the backside of the lake on the hike-up-the-slickrock section I saw Linda (2x SSWC champ) a few switchbacks up. This would be the only time I would see her.
Climbing, sweating and grimacing.
Got bunched up behind some flailing rider on the next flowing, tight downhill section. The first guy pulled off when he realized he might die if he tried to go the speed we wanted to go. We then spread out and I had some space in front of me for the first technical drops / switchbacks. Rode them clean with some cheers from spectators.
This is when the memory starts getting a little blurry.
I made the next section of switchback / drops cleanly with encouragement from
After a water feed, beginning of the second lap.
Back through the start, picked up my water (thanks a MILLION Max!) and headed out for my second lap. I ended up walking a bit more of the singletrack climb this time than on the first lap, but was feeling pretty good still. Before the lake I noticed a guy in front of me was riding a fixie! Idiot! Parents, give your kids the love they need or they’ll end up like this guy. I stopped at the water station near the lake and filled up my bottle with more water. It was really hot by now and I was covered in sweat and dirt.
Picked up my third bottle at the start of my third lap. I declined the Clif Blocks because I was felling pretty good. 300 yards further I started to feel the first sign of cramps. Doh! Shoulda grabbed the Clif Blocks!
About a mile further my right hamstring cramped. I got off the bike and started hitting it, drank a bunch of water, forced my leg straight and started pushing my bike. I had it worked out by the time the trail eased up enough to ride. Made it up to where the bag piper had been, but sadly he was gone. The course was getting pretty empty at this point. I was running into fewer racers and far fewer spectators.
I was starting to have some real trouble clipping into my pedals because the dust had scrubbed all the oil off my pedals and cleats.
I caught Nacho Libre from
Got to the creek crossing before the lake, saw a giant pink bunny holding a can of Tecate and asked him and his crew if they had any chain lube. I got the same laughter and hazing from this group.
I was starting to see a theme. There is very much a scene at this race, a scene I was hoping would not be here. A very ‘cool’ scene. I was clearly not very ‘cool’ because I was asking for chain lube.
We all need love. Especially the kids. Parents, love your kids. By the way, have I mentioned that I think that people who ride single speeds on a regular basis were not shown enough love by their mothers?
Where was I? Lap three.
Heading away from the lake on the hike-up-the-slickrock section I saw Tiffany one switchback below me. We tugged back and forth a bit and she got in front of me going down a technical section, then, then, then she was frickin’ gone! She completely dropped me. Well, I’ll be. Hammer time! I caught up with her at the dry creek crossing and passed her shortly thereafter. Flew down the fire road with water breaks and across the bridge. Coming up to the last climb a gentleman in a t-shirt that read “WHITE TRASH” encouraged me to dig deeper and informed me that there were only 500 meters to go. Meters? What kind of white trash American gives out information in metric units? The next guy up the hill informed me in a clear fashion that I had about ½ mile to go. Sweet, pass anybody in sight and don’t let anybody by.
I caught the fixed guy at the paved road crossing right as both of my calves started to cramp. He had his feet resting on his top tube. I spun as fast as I could and put my hand on his back helping him forward a bit. As the fire road turned up for the last little section before the finish I went as hard as I could go to the finish.
Some stranger put a bottle opener in my jersey pocket that said Finisher #94. According to my GPS I finished in 2 hours 59 minutes. I laid down my bike, chugged a Coke and searched for a beer and a shower.
This is me, cooked, at the end of the race.