Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Moab and first storm of the year

Friday and Saturday (and I guess Sunday too, but I didn't stay for that part) were Fall Moab. We left Friday morning and rode Slickrock in the rain that afternoon. Since it was raining, I didn't take my camera. So I didn't get any pictures. Also since it was raining, we opted not to camp and found a cheap but fairly nice motel to stay in. That ended up being a good thing. Though it did mean eating dinner at the brewpub rather than grilling brats.

The downside to all the rain was that it was snow above 2,100 meters. And our plan for Friday was to ride the Whole Enchilada. Which starts at about 3,300 meters. We considered just riding UPS and LPS and Porcupine rim, but the shuttles weren't even running there. So we rode Gold Bar Rim instead.

Problem is that I had borrowed Mike M.'s freeride bike specifically for the Whole Enchilada. It weighs about 22 kilos. I suffered up all the climbs on Slickrock thinking about the joy of riding that thing on a big shuttle run the next day. The shuttle run didn't happen, but it was still a blast on Gold Bar Rim. What a great trail. Here are some photos.

Dug is a master of climbing ledges.

Kenny isn't bad, either.

Bob also has good technical skills, but his greatest asset is a short memory. His interval between being doubled over in pain and being the first to try a scary move is shockingly brief.

If you can get over the fact that he's devastatingly handsome, you'll notice Ricky making some tough moves as well.

The big bike wasn't great for going up. Geometry isn't designed for that. But it was fun to go down, even when the line required a mandatory air.

Aaron can do it all and make it look easy.

John putting his foot to the floor.

The second half of the ride had a number of challenging descents.

And some ominous clouds that threatened but didn't rain.

Bob nailed this tricky staircase.

I rolled the hard part no problem...

...then went ass over teakettle when I hit a rock on the rollout.

The views on this ride did not suck. Some guy named Mike showed up and took these photos. None of us knew him, but he claimed to be a friend of Kenny's.

After the ride Saturday, Jon, Steve W., and I were heading home, but only after taking advantage of the barbecue grill at the hotel to cook some brats and enjoy them on Kenny's delicious bread. No better way to end a ride.

I wanted to be home Sunday since Rachel and the kids had been out of town the previous week visiting her family in Indiana. Sunday was our first non-school day to hang out together. And being the lucky guy that I am, our family likes to hang out at bike races when we get the chance. So Sunday afternoon, we headed over to the final Raleigh Cross race of the season.

Last week, my goal was to line up with the A flight and not finish last. This week, I had no goal. I'd spent nine hours the previous two days pedaling around on a very heavy bike. Between the exertion and the spill, I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. But I raced anyway. And rain in Moab also meant rain in Salt Lake (and snow in the mountains!), so we had our first race with typical cross racing conditions.

The first lap is usually my best, but this time it was terrible. The first turn was scary, so I didn't contest the hole shot. The second turn I got off line and hit the sidewalk hard. I thought I blew out my tire, so I soft pedaled to make sure it was still holding air. It was, but I couldn't tell how much or if it was likely to roll. In the sand trap, I was caught behind a pileup and lost more ground.

I spent the next few laps trying to catch the group in front of me. I thought I was making progress until I had more difficulty in the sand trap. Then I lost them for good. From that point on I was focused on practicing my handling in tight, muddy conditions. This stretch of repeated 180's in the trees gave me trouble every lap.

There were several dismounts in this race, the first pass in the sand required a 180 that was faster to run than ride. Then there was a barrier before a runup that Rico bunny hopped and pedaled (he lapped me on this section on his way to the win--I felt very slow). Then some concrete steps down through a pavilion and back up. And finally two barriers after a hard right hander at the bottom of a hill. Very technical course, very challenging for someone still trying to figure this technical stuff out. Here I am remounting after the double barriers at the bottom of the hill.

I had the best cheerleaders in the world, though. Seriously, hearing them encourage me every lap, no matter how far off the back I was, kept me motivated to keep chasing.

Coming into the last lap, I had one of the Glenn brothers in my sights. He looked to be fading, and I was still feeling like I had something left. I thought I could catch him and avoid the lanterne rouge.

He was a couple bike lengths ahead going into the trees. I thought I'd make my move on the straight before the runup. Then my front tire washed out in the mud, and I was on my side trying to get unclipped, trying to get back up, trying to get back on. That was it. I rolled in with Cody right behind me, mercifully not trying to add one more to the tally of riders who had lapped me.

This is hard racing. Harder than I ever imagined it would be. The weather made it harder still. Yet at the same time it's amazingly appealing. The season is short. The races are short. The community is great. It's never boring. Every course presents its own challenge. It's spectator friendly and family friendly and a great way to spend a day.

After the race, I asked Steve whether he thought my result was because spending nine hours riding trails the previous two days is a bad way to taper or just because I suck at cross. He said "I am going to say a combination of bad tapering and a lot of bad ass cross racers in Utah." That list of bad ass cross racers has to include Daren, who won yet again on Saturday. That's four for four. He's the only one to do that since Jason Sager finally got one on Bart on Saturday.

My ineptitude notwithstanding, I'm already looking forward to double cross weekend next weekend with the big halloween race, in costume, on Saturday. Assuming I can get my bike clean between now and then, that is.



    Not necessarily in that order.

  2. Ricky is not a very good spotter.

  3. Good stuff. I approve of the armor.

    Cross racing and short track MTB are great for families/communities because everyone keeps coming around and spectators feel a lot more involved.

  4. Where was the full face helmet and compression suit to go with the shin and arm guards? Roadie.

  5. Daren: You mean this full face helmet? Pressure suits are for ninnies.