The DH race started for me back in April when the race registration opened. I already knew that my wife and kids would be out of town this weekend so I was a free man! I’m sure some of you that have ridden with me are wondering why I wimp like me would sign up for a DH race. Well the simple answer is I have nothing better to do the day before the XC race! The DH course is long, very long, and has a lot of sections that requires pedaling and good fitness, this played to my strengths. Last year the winning time for the pros was about 38 minutes and for my class 45+ it was about 50 minutes.
I had a nasty crash on the MTB back in May and have been spending 90% of my time on my road bike since then, so I knew I needed to get some practice runs and work on my MTB skills, so I did a pre ride last weekend. When I hit the first trail, Butcher Ranch, I was so tentative! I felt really uncomfortable on the loose rocks and there is one section that I actually got off and walked ( the dried out rocky waterfall). I couldn’t help to ask what I was thinking when I signed up for this race! I suck at this! Well, it’s still a long way down the hill. I started to get a little more comfortable and take some chances. As I got to the 3rd and 1st divide trail I started to feel more comfortable and got to hit some of the sections with some pedaling at a hard pace, that felt great.
The next obstacle for the race was Tires. I have used the Stan’s No Tubes for years and have had no problems, until this week. My WTB Mutanno raptor worked perfect up front. I tried one on the rear only to find out it does not fit on my bike. Next try, Pannaracer Cinder, fills up fine, went for a ride no problem, then the got a flat and had no more sealant in the tire. Brought it by the LBS, they put in a few scoops and it seals great. Put the tire in the back of my car and on the drive home here a loud BAM!!! Snipers?? No my tire blew off the rim and there was a white milky substance all over the back of the car, windows etc!!!!! I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. Next, I thought I would try a Kenda tire. My friend Chuck let me borrow his, it sealed great, I went back to work, 2 hours later there was no air in it. That’s it…I give up, I’m going toYes Tubes for the rear and using the Cinder, this is no fun anymore.
DH RACE DAY
My start time was around 12:30pm. I missed a turn and get lost on my drive up to the Start at Packer Saddle. When I finally arrived I dressed as fast I could and had enough time for a brief warm up. The guy who was running the start is a friend of mine, Chris; it was funny to have someone I ride with running the show. Anyway, Chris gave me the count down 5 4 3 2 1 GO!!!!!!!!!!!! Kind of reminded me of the Skiers in the Olympics. Off I went down the Butcher ranch trail. I did my best to go fast but stay in control and most important NO CRASHING!
After a few minutes a guy in full body armor flew by me like I was standing still…yikes. I kept my focus then to my surprise I passed a couple riders! Yeah baby was moving now. By the time I got to 3rd divide I was in my zone and was happy to see plenty of riders off the side of the trail with flats! Finished 3rd divide and hit 1st divide, the trail that is mostly flat and has lots of pedaling. I went balls passed a few more racers, and finished with a time of 54:11, not super fast but respectable and good enough for the final spot on the podium, 5th place!
This is my 4th time doing the XC race. The previous 3 races I have had a MAJOR cramping attack right after I crossed through Pauley Creek. Last year I spent almost 10 minutes waiting for the cramps to subside so I could get on with the race. Given my history, and they have tried just about everything, I had very little faith that things would be different this year, even thought I was trying something new, Sportslegs.
They start all of the Pro’s and experts together so as we started the 8 mile , 3,000 foot climb
I got passed by a lot of racers, including a few of the pro woman! I was trying to keep in eye out for gray hair to see if anyone looked like they were over 45. 5 minutes in to the climb I knew I did not feel great today. I was suffering and so was my attitude. I wonder if this is what it was like for Floyd Landis? I kept an eye on my time to make sure to take the 2nd dose of Sportslegs at 1/2hour in to the race. After taking the 2nd dose I kept on climbing for another ˝ an hour so till I finally got to the top.
The downhill from the summit to Pauley Creek is full of loose rocks and baby heads.
I thought I was going at a pretty good pace till a guy flew by me…on a Hardtail! Dang! I tried to just relax and ride at my pace through all the technical stuff. Finally I arrived in one piece to Pauley Creek, the scene of the last years of massive cramping. I rode through, with the cold water hitting my already tired and throbbing legs. When I cleared the creek I waited for the inevitable….but no, my legs did not cramp!! I had a huge grin and let out a loud yeah! This changes everything! I was totally fired up now to get down the hill and have a good finish. I continued to have a few riders pass me and I passed a few riders as well. On the last climb up 3rd divide I started to get just a little Cramping so I downed a few Tums and the cramps went away. On my way down the fast section of 3rd divide I noticed the pre race favorite to win my class fixing a flat. Things were really starting to look good now! He is MUCH faster then me so I knew I had to go all out to the finish or I could get caught.
I proceeded to 1st divide like a bat of hell, passed a few racers. I was totally out of water and spitting dust, but the finish was oh so close. I can drink later! Finally I finished 1st divide and it was all pavement to the finish line. I locked out my front fork and hit as hard as I could. I could already see 5 racers ahead of me. I had no idea if they were in my class but I didn’t care I was going all out to the finish! One of the racers was a local racer who I know on a singlespeed so I gave him some sh*t as I passed. I caught the remaining 4 and passed them, then hit the finish line, Finish time :2:25, 5 minutes faster then last year, good enough for 2nd place!
Here I am trash talking the guy who beat me!
If you have ever had issues with cramping try Sportlegs!! I can’t say enough good things about this product!!!!!!!!
THanks to Scott (jorgemonkey) for the race pic's!
Thanks again to all my sponsors….oh yeah I don’t have and sponsors!
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Thread: Downieville DH & XC Report