Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sagebrush 2010

In the spirit of the day, and since I've had a couple questions about how it went, here's my belated report from the MTB XC season opener on Feb 28.

I've used a hybrid Fastrack/Ken bullet point style, with the patented Jurist style extended coverage for anyone who actually gives a darn:

Cliff Notes version:

-Super fun, fast, sloppy, clear, beautiful, crazy tough event with 3 Chickens racing: Alfredo finished an impressive 4th in Cat 3, Me a slightly disappointing 12th in Cat 2, and Gabe seemed happy with his 7th in Cat 1 (I think Gabe was mostly just happy to have finished his near epic 2Hrs, 43 Minutes on course, gnarly!!!!!) Let's get a bigger CR turn-out for Bonelli.

Extended Coverage:

- Alfredo wins the last minute planner award for making final decision and arrangements to race while still at work after 10PM night before

- 4-1/2 hour drive down under clear skies on Sunday morning rolling out of SB at 5AM on day of event with Alfredo, myself and Gabe carpooling as the only riders representing Team CR (Cats 3, 2, 1, respectively).

- Dirt entry road and parking lot were relatively firm, but scattered with deep mud puddles and temps were still in low 40's. Reports from overnight campers and locals was that it absolutely dumped rain Saturday evening with freezing temps overnight

- Racers were out in force, seemed like REALLY good numbers in the lot, registering and at the starting line. Lots of great energy and good buzz out there.

- Seems like about 1 in 4 riders is on a 29'er now and half of those are hardtails.

- All ages and classes went off with staggered start times beginning at 11AM, by which time it was warm with absolutely beautiful clear blue skies.

- Cat 2 & 3's both rode the same course ~18 miles, Cat 1 & Pros going a tough 22 miles

- First 1-1/2 miles or so was paved & mild. My Cat 2 group of 22 riders hung together in a tight peloton with quite a bit of joking about who was gonna try to organize a breakaway and/or win the next 'prime'. The pace did get lifted a good bit on the flat to put some pressure on the group leading up to "the hill"

- Course turned steep up hill for a 15 minute paved climb (7-10%?) which blew apart my group right away. I was able to hang with the top ten riders of my group on the climb but things did get a bit messy/confusing while overtaking slower riders from prior heats & simultaneously getting passed by 1 or 2 fast f'ers from the following heat. (no group numbers were written on legs at this race for some reason, so you could only ID someone actually in your age/cat if you recognized them form your starting group)

- At the top of this first big paved climb, less than 1/4 into the race I'd say the finishing positions were about 80% fixed.....

- Leaving pavement & dropping over the backside of the ridge, the course became an absolute never ending roller coaster super fun carve fest. Lots of excellent banked twisty single track and some super fast fire road descents made for one of the most fun course I've ever raced. The dirt withstood the water really well in general, not clumpy SB type clay, but just a little tacky in general. The multitude of puddles and a few granite rock carved single track sections and a couple mild drop offs really kept things interesting.

- For those of you gear hounds - although I did get passed by a very small number of full-boing riders who were absolutely bombing so fast through corners on the twisty fireroad downhills that they must've been locals, (IMHO), in general I really fell in love with my 26" hardtail during its first race. Even on the washboard descents and drop offs I felt like I could open it up and bomb just fine, and obviously it was super nice to be able to climb seated or standing on a lightweight hardtail on the uphills. On the flip-side, I did feel the fatigue factor just a little in my lower back having to stand for the duration on one of the longer downhills late in the race.......

-most puddles could be avoided carving slalom-style on the single tracks & open roads, but when you had to plow through a water hazard, it was a little scary. In order to not risk an endo you wanted to keep your weight back or try to unweight/bunny hop, but obviously that's easier said than done. Ask Gabe about his front wheel stand manuever at race pace sometime when you get a chance......

- one ginormous section of super steep hike a bike uphill at about 2/3 through the race was pretty hard on the psyche. It was a huge quarter mile long uphill slog conga line. I actaully did pass a couple "trudgers" by shouldering my bike lower down on the wall, but then I regained my senses and got into line just in time before I imploded.

- Final mile of the race included about 3 or 4 good water crossings, one maybe 24" deep in the middle and 25 yards wide which some riders rode and some carried their bike ( I rode through and got completely drenched with cold water while rinsing quite a bit of grime off me & my bike)

- Met up with some guys from Linked Cycles after I started chatting things up with them a bit after my race and one of them says, hey you're with Chicken Ranch, do you know Robert Higgins?...... Seems that this guy (Ryan) knew Big Rob via email but had never actually met him in person. So Rob: Ryan from Linked Cycles passes along good wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery.

- We all do miss you out on the rides and at the races Rob, hope your recovery is going well.

- Alfredo scored a super nice lazer engraved stainless steel plaque for his efforts

- After the race, a guy next to us mentioned that he was from San Diego and this was his ONE local San Diego race and he wasn't looking forward to having to make the hube drive for BOTH of the Santa Barbara races. (chalk one more up for living in SB)

- Team Chicken is now sitting in 5th place in the team competition after 1 race, sure would be nice to have a minimum of 8 Team Chicken Ranch riders register, race and score team points at Bonelli and beyond!

See you ALL at Bonelli.

Ride On!


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