Thursday, March 19, 2009

Keyesville, Podiums and Good Times!

Last year, I made the trip w/ the CR'ers to the Keysville Classic MTB race to test the early season MTB legs on the 16 mile Sport Class race (8 mile loops). The race started and right from the gun I had a good lead on my group. A few looks over the shoulder and I could see my lead increasing. About a 1/3 of the way through the first lap and I'm feeling great...catching and passing the racers from the groups ahead. Then, somewhere along the course, I took a wrong turn and ended up going through the Start/Finish line only 4 miles into the race on what was supposed to be an 8 mile loop. I had no idea where I turned off. I rolled into the feed zone where Matt asked, "what happened?" I took a wrong turn when leading the race and was forced to DNF. That race bothered me all last season.

Well this Saturday, I made the trip again. I put no pressure on myself and just thought of doing my best. The 30-44 Sport Class had a good turn out and I was just hoping for a good showing. This time, I wasn't going to go off the front and get lost again. I planned on following a wheel through the first lap and put in a hard effort on the second lap. The race starts and I find myself off the front 1/4 of the way through the first lap. One look back and I have a huge gap. I decide to hit it hard and hope for the best. Going into the second lap, I take a quick look back and second place is nowhere in site. At this point I'm feeling good and thinking that I might pull off my first MTB win. Going into the finish, I pass some spectators and they yell, "no one in site, you got it." I come through and got the win, incuding the best time of the day for the Sport classes. It was a feeling of relief and satisfaction. I redeemed last year's screw up and my poor performance 2 weeks ago at the Nevada Stage Race. Today, I had the legs and the lungs.

As a team, we also had some other great performances, including another win by a CR'er. I'll let them give their reports, but I'll give you a hint. The winner of the 44+ Sport Class owns a bike shop in town :-) We got a bunch of top ten's and a lot of good times. As always, racing with the Rancher's is awesome.

Since we all like pics, I've attached a bunch from the trip.


Hello everyone,

The Keyesville Classic has been goin' on for twenty years, and is the first Mountain Bike race I ever did. It's definitely got an "Old School" feel to it and there are many people that always fit Keyesville into their race calendar. The course is one of the best anywhere with enough climbing to make your legs burn and enough fast technical descending to keep it interesting, and the scenery is pretty awesome as well.

They moved the Cross Country event to Saturday this year so me and a few other Chickens left Friday night to make the 4 hour drive to our chosen resting spot the Paradise Cove Lodge. It was kinda weird how we arrived around 11pm, went straight to our rooms, and left at 7:30am in the morning without ever seeing anybody. We never checked in. Never signed anything. There was no front desk. We just walked in, slept and left. Awesome! The rooms were actually better than expected. Mine and Roberts even had a TV but it took us 15 minutes to figure out how to turn it on, and another 30 minutes to figure out how to turn it off. We had the same problem with one of the lights so we just un-screwed the I said..."Old School."

We awoke to a beautiful clear morning with frost on the ground but no clouds in the sky. When we arrived at the venue we found a perfect spot for the Chicken Rig right on the course. So we could basically sit on the tailgate and hand out water bottles. During the Sport race Matt Perry, Pete Sproul and I hung out and watched the action waiting to give the guys their feeds. Gabe was on fire, and at the end of the first lap he already had a huge lead and we knew he was gonna win barring catastrophe. Dave came through in 2nd place in his race but he didn't even take a bottle 'cause his eyes were so focused on the guy right in front of him who was leading at that point. I said to Perry "It's over. Nobody smells the finish line like Lettieri!" and I was right. He wasn't gonna let this chance to win his first MTB race slip thru his fingers. Rob Ramirez and Brian Bermudes had a good little battle going on with Bermudes coming out on top at the end. Normally it's Lettieri battling with Ramirez...or Zimmerman....or Gabe...or Jellison...or Cuttler. It's funny how everyone wants to beat Ramirez. I mean sure, he is a little annoying sometimes, but way down deep inside somewhere he's actually a really nice guy. The battle between Rod Garrat and Philip Friden never materialized because Philip adheres to the Robert Ramirez approach to bike maintenance. Which means....don't do any. As a result he had multiple mechanical issues and was unable to finish. We'll have to let them duke it out at the next race. Which for Rod will be next years Keyesville Classic.

After we handed out the bottles it was time for me to eat my normal pre-race meal. A peanutbutter and jelly sandwich. I went to my cooler and to my surprise found that I had remembered the loaf of bread, but forgot the peanutbutter and the Jelly. Instead of eating dry bread I went down to the expo area and ordered two breakfast burritos from the local food vendor. Not the smartest decision I've ever made. While I doubt it affected my performance in the race. It did have a profound affect on the flavor and texture of my burps for the next 2 hours. Our class was a combined 30 to 44 age group so I got to race with some of the younger guys for a change. Which I thoroughly enjoyed for the first lap and the third lap. I didn't enjoy it so much on the second lap mainly because they all rode away from me and I couldn't seem to do anything about it. I kept pluggin along and according to the other Chickens I finished in 6th place or so. I'm not really sure since we didn't stick around for the results. In fact when I came across the line, Dave grabbed my bike and began loading it in the car. Bermudes washed me off with a bottle of water, and Ramirez gave me a Coke and a smile and said "Let's go!" We were in the car and ready to go literally 10 minutes after I finished the race. Bermudes's water bottle shower was easily the most enjoyable part of my day.

The drive home was relaxing. Mostly because Dave was in a good mood and wasn't trying as hard to get back to the shop to sell bikes. Paul Donahoe was driving the other car and they also had a race winner in their vehicle as well so they seemed to be in good spirits. We stopped at local restaurant in Bakersfield to fill up our stomachs for the drive home. I can't remember the name of the place....something like "Kebobs R Us" or something like that. It wasn't too bad, and it fit our criteria for a post meal as outlined by Dave and Robert....."No shitholes!" That was Robert's request when asked where we should go to eat. We first attempted to go to some Hawaiian Bar-B-Que joint but Dave walked in then turned around and walked out and declared..."It's a shithole!" so we opted for Kebobs R Us instead.

During the drive home Paul Donohoe kept "drafting" or "sitting on the wheel" of the Chicken Rig all the way from Bakersfield to Ventura. We were using walkie-talkies to communicate between vehicles and when they pulled abruptly around us and proclaimed "We're gonna win the sprint!" before taking their exit to drop off Gabe, we used the oldest trick in the book to teach them a lesson about etiquette. We informed them that since we were on the same team we would not contest the sprint for the win and congratulated them on a job well done. As soon as they backed off the gas I punched it and the Chicken Rig accelerated like Cavendish in the last 500 meters. They tried to cover our move but alas it was too late and we crossed the finish line at the Victoria off ramp with our hands in the air and a comfortable "half-car-length" margin of victory! They'll try to tell you a different story, but in their heart of hearts I think they know.

Great weekend Chickens! Let's do it again!


1 comment:

Chester Gillmore said...

Gabe, Matt...

Very nice race reports. Sounds like you guys had a blast out there! You guys are having one hell of a season so far that is for sure...
Matt- (When is the kid racing next?)