Phew, finally managed to race my mountain bike and not totally blow it. I had a great day at Annadel, and for once, my legs felt pretty good.
The start of this race reeeeally matters, as I’ve learned the hard way. I made sure to stage closer to the front this year to avoid getting caught in any big bottlenecks. I had to slow down a few times, but not stop, a big improvement over two years ago.
After riding in Oregon and Downieville all summer, my technical skills were pretty there, and I managed to ride past a bunch of people on the first steep dirt climb. I continued to feel pretty good on the climbs, and worked on my passing skills as I picked off some people. The descents were frustrating at times - lots of traffic and people getting kind of aggro around me as we had to slow down. Of course, we all want to rail at our top speed, but in reality it’s best to keep a cool head and help keep the vibe positive.
That said, I did get really frustrated when a rider on Lawndale kept refusing to let me by, closing the door on me a few times as people started stacking up behind me. I’m still learning how to navigate the balance between letting everyone race their bikes, and insisting that people be courteous and safely let others pass. Especially when descending is my best card to play, as seems to be the case.
Biggest mistake of my day was showing up to the start too late to hit the bathrooms, and subsequently stopping mid race. When I found out I missed second place in the Expert category by 16 seconds, it kind of stung!! Who knows how things would have gone if I hadn’t had a nature break. Oh well, that’s bike racing…I can’t really be that bummed. To put it into perspective, I raced two years ago on a slightly shorter course and came in at the back of the sport category at around 3:30 (after crashing, cramping, etc). This year, raced Expert and was two minutes off of the winner, coming in at 2:48. I guess I’m getting better at this.
Props to Cameron, who got 4th in the singlespeed category on a brand new bike of his own creation. Nice work!
Thank you Bike Monkey for another fantastic event! I’m so happy to support these guys as they continue to kill it with their organization, impeccable timing and general good vibes. Oh, and the food and beer were killer. What they are able to do for the park is pretty amazing and hopefully will serve as a good model for how to make mountain bikers a part of the conversation when it comes to land management.
I think there will be one more mtb race this season…then it’s all cross, all the time!