Monday, May 14, 2007
I like this picture because it looks like I am a BA. You can't tell that I'm in 9th place.
The Fontana NORBA was... well, anyway, it was.
The XC on friday was tough. It was a very physical course and I had trouble keeping up the pace for the 1st two laps, I sort of yo-yoed out behind Papo for the first two laps. Near the beginning of the second lap I caught onto a train of Papo and a rider in a Bianchi kit. I'm pretty sure that Denton Bowers was right behind me in the train too. At the time I was barely hanging on, I was willing to pull but the others would've had to slow their pace for me to get in front of them!
Papo pulled away on the first climb and Denton got dropped so it was just me riding behind the Bianchi guy until the descent and a loose, sandy section that was tough to ride.
The Bianchi guy got bogged and I went around by riding in a concrete drainage ditch (you heard me), and opened up a gap on him.
For a while I thought he would catch up. He seemed pretty strong.
My goal was to catch Papo on the second climbing section, stay together 'till the flats and then work together to open up the gap to Bianchi.
When I reached Papo he said he had gone to hard at the start and was fading so I just rode ahead, trying to hold my gap on the Bianchi rider.
That's when things started to click for me.
I started feeling good on that 2nd or 3rd lap (can't remember exactly) and I just tried to pace out my "mojo" for the remaining lap and a half or two.
I didn't actually know how good I was riding until I caught Eric Salstrand and Romolo Forcino, two fast semi's.
Oh yeah, I either "burped" my tire (lost air at the bead, or where the tire meets the rim) or got a puncture that sealed up with Stan's Solution on the first lap.
I had decided to ride it as long as I could, figuring that the longer I waited the more the racers would be spread out and the less riders would pass me while I fixed it!
Anyway, as I passed Romolo towards the end of the last lap I hoped he wouldn't notice my tire, which was now bumping the rim and fishtailing a bit.
I thought that might give him the incentive he needed to suck my wheel and then outsprint me but he said later that he had nothing left by that time.
It seems like he raced well though, it certainly seems like he had a good result.
In my hurry to outrun my leaking tire I almost caught the rider in front of me.
He was last years winner at the Sonoma Nat's so it's a good improvement for me to have caught him this year.
I think I might have caught him if it weren't for my tire, but the end of the course had some twisty sections and some short descents with hard right turns at the end, and I was sliding all over the place from my tire rolling on the rim!
I tried to sprint to the line but I just fishtailed everywhere.
Of course, for all I know he had a flat too... still I had passed a lot of fast riders in the last two laps and I was very happy with my race.
On sundays short track I was caught up in the traffic at the start, rode a hard first lap and got into a better position... just in time for a huge bottleneck on the course!
Riders were actually getting off their bikes and either WAITING or running around the course through the rocks and scrub brush... I moved from mid-pack to about 25th place.
After that I just rode as hard as I figured I could without blowing up dropping back to 25th!
I never got to draft because as soon as I caught up to someone I would pass and try to catch the next person... until I got to Colt.
Here my brother Travis and Teamate Alex watch me trying to bridge up to Colt.
Colt was having an awesome race, and was way up in the pack. When I caught him he was motoring pretty good so I drafted for a sec and "caught my breath" (yeah right!).
I passed Colt where the short track went up the 4-cross course, and then... he passed me right back!
I rode behind him for a bit and then tried to pass again. This time Colt jumped on behind me we rode together for a bit until he said something like "don't wait for me to pull, I'm going as fast as I can already!"
I was going as fast as I could too, and just before the last lap I was able to pull away.
Check out Colt's blog for another race perspective.
The last lap was interesting... just after the section where we rode up the 4-cross course, we turned left onto a fire road straight before dropping down a short descent and making our way back to the finish.
I caught a group of 3 or 4 right as we turned onto that fireroad straight, and decided to use up my sprint right there since it would be virtually impossible to pass after the descent.
I accelerated down the straight and passed a few riders... suddenly the last rider ahead of me (the Bianchi rider actually!) was coming up fast and I had to chose between slamming on the brakes and getting behind him or getting in front and then braking to make the left turn into the descent.
It was a split second decision, but I thought that if I braked and took the outside line, it would leave room (barely) for him to take the inside line and I would end up in the lead.
I actually have no idea how that turned out because I didn't have time to stop and look around!
After the race I waved to him but he just frowned... don't know if he was frustrated with his race in general or with me in particular though.
I did ask another rider who I had passed on that last straight if I had messed up the Bianchi guy and he said he didn't think so but that the guy had messed up a little on the descent and lost ground.
He still finished right behind me though, and after watching video of the race and seeing him in the very front group I am guessing that he "popped" and was a little pissed at the race in general and at me too...
Anyway, I try my best to find the balance between racing respectfully and giving everything I have to get the best result I can.
Oh, and the coolest thing to happen all weekend... I stayed and watched the pro short-track (great race by the way!) and as the race was ending I cut diagonally across the course when there was a (BIG) gap between the last rider to not get pulled and the 2nd to last rider not to get pulled. As I did this one of the NMBS staff (Team Big Bear?, Southridge?), not realizing I had seen the rider (way) down the course called out this warning: "Off the course... YOU DUMB KID!". Nice. Way to grow the sport. I can only imagine what my non-riding friends would think if they were invited to watch a race and were treated like that.
Or better still, a Newbie, just starting to get excited about racing... he has finished his first race and is thinking "this is pretty cool, maybe it WAS worth SEVENTY DOLLARS!"
Getting put down like that could turn someone who loves riding but is on the fence about racing away from the sport.
Anyway, thinking that MTB needs all the racers and spectators we can get I told the "official" (politely) that I understood the warning but calling me a "dumb kid" was pretty un-cool.
Another nearby "official" wearing a red shirt, with a radio in a harness on his chest (not too tall, maybe 5' 6"; black goatee) jumps in to "defend" his colleague and tells me that "You WERE running down the course, I SAW you!"
When I told him that I understood that, and I didn't fault anyone for warning me, because they would have no way of knowing whether I had seen the last racer or not, BUT... it was not okay for him (an employee of the race, and an official who should be setting a good example) to call me a "dumb kid", he seemed to disagree and told me that I was lucky the man hadn't used profanity!?!?!?!
Needless to say, I didn't feel lucky.
I felt like I would rather spend my money on a different series.
I really respect Don Jackson, Frosty, and Tom Spiegel. Hoss is always super nice and when I was just being introduced to the sport of racing he made a big impression on me just by being friendly and hospitable.
I don't know the other staff by name but I see how hard people work to put on these events. And I see that the job of organizing sweaty, tired, masses of high strung racers is a rediculously difficult job.
I hear (a very few) people say "Well, they are making plenty of money, not doing any favors, blah, blah, blah"
Good! They deserve to make money, and I hope they all get rich (although I doubt that is their primary motivation).
I don't know what So-Cal mountain bike racing would be like without all these guys, and I think the NORBA series would be worse off without them.
BUT... a lot of people aren't immersed in the racing scene enough to know all of that so it is important that EVERYONE, but especially the representatives (staff) of the series be friendly (not "bubbly", LOL, but at least polite) to any well meaning racers or spectators at the events.
Anyway, that's my two cents.
Tons of race pics on flickr ! Colt, you are in a lot of them so check 'em out.
Scott and Marie
Thanks to my friends Max and Brian for coming, cheering and taking pics, it definately made the race much better.
Thanks also to Scott, Marie, Alex, my Mom, Dad, brother Travis, and wife Brooke, it was FUN!