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Monday, June 13, 2011

Sierra Cup Rd#3 race report

Round #3 of the Sierra Cup Series was met with bea-u-ti-ful weather and a stacked field at Skyline Park in Napa.




The start. Well, before the start even started the promoter fessed up to a "computer glitch" wherein he was missing some riders from same day registration. Yes folks it pays to pre-reg. This was resolved pretty quick and it was back to "get nervous time".




Chaotic start. Riders swerving, dodging, bobbing, weaving and everything else that can ruin your day (ain't that right Fowler). Two minutes into the race and I sat in 3rd position with Weir and Cruz setting the pace. I was feeling comfortable and figured I'd have no problem holding that pace for quite a while. Just then about 15 dudes came rocketing by and I found myself buried in the pack with my heart rate monitor displaying a number I was hoping wasn't right. All of the sudden I had a ton of work to do.




15 minutes into the first (of three) laps we reached a clearing and I did my best to count back in an attempt at learning my position and it seemed as though I was 12th.




On and on. I'd pass a guy here. A guy there. Somebody flatted. Another dude crashed. By the end of a hard earned 1st lap I figured I was in 7th... give or take.




I started lap two with one of the Whole Athlete riders. These friggin' guys were everywhere. We swapped back and forth a few times until I finally reached a section tailor made for me... a technical traversing singletrack followed by a rocky downhill. Poor kid never had a chance. I'm now 6th.... give or take.




I'd catch two guys riding together next and get around both on a climb putting me in 4th. At this point we were starting to get into lapped traffic which always seems to have its own set of challenges. "On your left" to a lapped rider can mean anything from "you should move to your left" to "you shouldn't move left" to my personal favorite "you should move left... then right... then left again before swerving off into the weeds and taking yourself out". Ahh bike racing. I love it.




I was setting a pretty descent pace for the remainder of lap two but wasn't catching anyone else in my class. It was starting to look a little grim. I wasn't even in a podium position.




Starting the final lap I was told by a spectator that I was indeed in 4th position. Shit. I got down to business and set a pace that I thought I could endure without a visit from the cramp monster and just tried to ride mistake free. On the first climb I got a glimpse of Clint Claussen (round #1 winner) near the top of some switchbacks. I chased hard and did indeed bridge the gap but it took almost the entire lap to git 'er done. I formulated a plan of hanging with him so I could draft him through the flats leading into the finish and let it come down to a sprint. Then I realized that Clint is a 6'-2" powerhouse and I'd probably have my hands full just hanging on through the last mile of fire road that lead into the finish. So I made my jump and swung around his left side towards the top of a technical climb. I only had about 7 minutes of single track to put some distance between us before the fireroad section started so I made the most of it. I let lapped traffic know from WAAAY back that I was coming through and, fortunately, had good luck getting by without incident. The single track came to an end and there was just 1 mile of fireroad between me and a podium position. I took a quick look back and saw nobody. I topped out on the first small climb looked back and saw nobody. Through the chicanes, looked back... nobody. Now I'm within a half mile. I put the hammer down and entered the grassy finish shoot. Less that 150 meters to go. I looked back... and there he was. Clint. Out of the saddle. Hammering. Bike rocking back and forth. Sheeeit!! I clicked down a couple of gears and pedaled in earnest. I reached the hairpin turn at the oak tree and kept pedaling. I could hear the grass being uprooted as I pushed the limits of traction through the turn. I exited the turn wide... and hot brushing up against the course marking tape as I went. Clint was close, but it was too late. We entered the finish chute and I crossed the line with a three second advantage. Damn. I'm shattered.




I spun around to cool down. Thought about my day and smiled. Racing in and around the Bay Area is hard. The fields are always stacked and if you let your guard down, even for a second, you'll get passed. It's friggin' relentless... and I like it.




I'd later learn that I was indeed the third guy to cross the line. Thing was though that the fastest man of the day turned out to be Anthony Smith, an 18 year young up and comer, who wasn't racing my class. The second fastest rider of the day was Dario Fredrick. How could you possibly be slow with a name like "Dario". Dario really needs to quit sandbagging and start racing the pro class.




So after some quick math I deduced that I had indeed won!! This makes the series interesting as Clint and I are tied with points for the lead.






membership has its privileges



the race has been over for hours and I'm still sweatin'!


Clint and I weren't done racing yet. This is me chasing him down the highway on the way home.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More racin'

Round 3 of the Sierra Cup Series is at Skyline Park in Napa this weekend. This is a love/hate course for me. It's plenty technical (love) and I've managed to do quite well there in my previous two visits (love). The weather always seems to be just right (love) and there's always a good turnout of riders to do battle with. The unfortunate side of Napa for me is that the cramp monster is ALWAYS down there waiting for me.


I remember the first time I raced there. It was the last lap and I was catching two guys. Just as I was getting close to bridging the gap my legs started that familiar feeling of tightening. I backed off my pace, recovered and continued my attack. Again I started catching the two guys in front of me. We were within minutes of the finish. Again I got close. Again the cramp monster came knocking at the door. FRACK!! I had to back down. I'd learn a few minutes after crossing the finish line that the two dudes I was trying to catch were battling for the win. Meh. At least I made it to the podium. 3rd ain't bad ya know.

So, this weekend I've got a new plan to avoid the cramp monster. I'm going to pretend that my legs look like this....

... and I'll surely be immune to cramping. How are legs that look like this going to cramp?! It's impossible.


As always be on the lookout for a race report on Monday... or Tuesday... or maybe not at all.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Just Add Water

Round #2 of the Sierra Cup Series was officially postponed this weekend due to rain. Thank God. I commend the race promoter on the cancellation of the race. People were/are going to be upset either way but not racing was the better call. Nice job Kevin.

Anyone who's had the unfortunate experience of riding in Reno in the mud already knows that the dirt down there turns into an extra sticky peanut butter type of substance when it rains. Not only does the mud build up on the wheels of bikes leaving them without the ability to pass through the frame it will also suck the shoes right off your feet once you realize that you can no longer ride and start the inevitable walk back towards the car. I'm surprised that NASA isn't down there extracting that stuff for some sort of implementation in a space program. The Peavine race will be rescheduled for a later date. I'll keep ya'll posted on the new date for a race that you should really check out.

As the days of the calender tick away the race schedule is really starting to get busy. Round #3 of the Sierra Cup is next weekend in Napa. Super fun course. This will be my third time racing down there and it's always been worth the drive.

The week after Napa is the Boggs 8/24 hour solo. I'll be down there (Boggs) in an attempt at qualifying for the Tahoe Sierra 100 which is a 100 mile point to point race from Donner Summit to Forest Hill (Auburn-ish). Both the qualifier and the 100 mile should prove to be epic days in the saddle for sure.

The calender only lets up for a couple of weeks until Downieville. No; I didn't make it into the All Mountain Pro. Yes; I really want in. Yes; I need to try and "weasle" my way into a spot. Once again this year snow will be a hot topic on Downieville as another late winter in the Sierra is holding snow on most trails above 6,000ft. No; you can't yet ride from the top... not even close. Too much snow and lots of trees down. The trails are free of snow, cleaned up and perfectly rideable from the Paully Creek Bridge down to town. The N. Yuba trail (downriver from town) is also in good shape and riding well.