Monday, October 13, 2008

AC End of Season What-Not

For being the alleged end of the season I’ve been pretty busy the last couple weeks. Working on the Rally Car, racing a bit of Cyclocross, some gravity racing, some fun bike rides, riding motorized bikes, kicking it at the White House, you know, usual stuff…

First off I suppose bike racing is our main interest so I’ll make some comments on Cyclocross. It’s fun. It’s also another couple months of racing. The fun to extra travel ratio seems a bit off this fall so I’ve set up a very simple rule to govern my ‘Cross racing exploits. I only race under the lights. That’s right, if your ‘Cross race happens during the day I can’t be bothered to partake in 2008. This rule was strictly adhered to a couple weekends ago in Seattle when I raced the Star Crossed event Saturday night, then, instead of racing under “the sun” in Tacoma the next day at another UCI event (which I’ve won in the past) I drove past on my way to some proper baggy short mountain biking at Post Canyon. Doing shuttle runs with old friends and hitting a bunch of sweet jumps was way more fun than a 100-meter run-up… Although we did take some time out for a quick, sketchy, hike-a-bike to Mitchell point for a doughnut and scenery break. And, as a double bonus, I ran into the Penningtons in Hood River, which may not mean much to my average reader, but know that, as legends in my own mind, IT SHOULD! Ah, but back to Star Crossed. It rained. And I took the scenic route to get there. Friday evening cruise on the MacKenzie River Trail on the way to a N.E.R.D and Common show in Eugene. Not quite content with my ADD, I then rode 2 hours of rad singletrack on the Souixon Creek trail as a pit stop during my drive up to Seattle Saturday afternoon. That trail is all time. As opposed to a bunch of other trails in the NW, or anywhere for that matter… Right, Star Crossed. We raced. It was SLICK. There was a beer garden. I rode kind of fast, even tried to win a little bit. Then fell down on the (not surprisingly) slick Velodrome and got dropped. Oh well, I jumped the barriers on the last lap, much to the delight of the adjacent Beer Garden, on my way to fourth place and one of the most comprehensive Chamgagne dousings in recent memory…

Three Days later I found myself at the start line of the only other Twilight ‘Cross event in the Country. CrossVegas. After two days of Interbike wandering around and not exactly taking care of my body it felt kind of good to be racing around in front of approximately a Brazillian well-lubricated fans. Thanks, Dale’s Pale Ale (as handed off by ‘Cross Crusade promoter Brad Ross, who didn’t have much luck getting Lance’s attention for the same prep) for the refreshing start line beverage and turning the fans up to Eleven… Man, it pains me to describe this race other than two parts. One, I penned a new race tactic. It’s called the “Attack and Stack”. For those situations where it’s obviously a waste of energy to try and solo away from arguably the strongest lead group assembled in an American ‘Cross race, the AnS is the perfect option. To keep from looking like a sissy for just sitting in, you drill it for about 20 seconds and a few corners, getting a workable gap. Then, as a direct result of coming into the (totally cleanable) barriers about 10 mph faster than the previous laps on account of “attacking”, you mistime the second bunnyhop and case barrier #2. This puts you on course for a spectacular nose wheelie and slow-motion over the bars excursion that allows you to just be picking yourself up when the lead group catches you. Perfect, now go back to sitting on the back of the group saving energy for the last lap, when it counts. Which is boring, yet effective. The other highlight, which could be considered a low point depending on your view of “smart” racing, was riding out of said lead group on the last lap in an attempt to bridge across to Tim Johnson and Ryan Trebron, who were in the process of winning. I almost made it, third to Ryan’s convincingly powerful win. So, smart racing yields good results. Lame. Ending a beer-sponsored race at 10:30pm is a great springboard for a night of Vegas-style debauchery though…

So, every year I come up with some kind of excuse to leave Vegas ASAP. This year it was that I needed to get home in time to prep my Downhill Bike for the last event in the Fluidride Cup series at Mount Hood Ski Bowl. And have a culturally diverse Friday evening including a theatrical performance of “Driving Miss Daisy” and a Sweatshop Union Concert. The bike got prepped (thanks, Fitzy, for the Fox 40) and we made it to the shows on time. Unfortunately, this led to a late morning and just enough time for two DH practice runs before Slalom started at 3 on Saturday afternoon. Two runs was enough for me to determine I ride downhill like a small child and have similar arm strength as when I was 11 and jumping the flower garden in our yard. Good proper old school slalom was right up my alley though. About a dozen pros and twice that many amateurs ended DH practice early in favor of a little good old-fashioned gated racing. The track was mostly flat turns with a few teeny little jumps for good measure. I qualified middle of the pack and had my first round up against Phil, a burly looking Downhiller from Portland. Somehow I kept ahead of him in both runs which put me up against Lars Sternberg in the round of four. In addition to writing how-to articles in Decline, Lars rides for the Fluidride Skills School and definitely has some. He housed me in the first run by a 1.0 second margin. There are two runs to each round though, one each on the red and blue courses and I had the faster red in run two. I pushed hard and Lars made a few mistakes over the course of 30 seconds. I ended up winning the second run but only by 0.6 sec so Lars, undefeated thus far in Fluidride slalom, was able to advance. He won the finals and I won the consolation round for third. $20. Sweet.

If only a night of camping down by the creek had turned me into a badass downhiller I might not have gotten smoked by fifteen or so Northwesterners who are way less scared of rock gardens. And might have stood a tiny chance of making Luke Strobel nervous about our gentlemanly bet in Australia a few weeks back… The race was run in best of two runs format. I was cleanish on the first one and did a 2:36. 44 year old Bart McDaniel did a 2:17. What’s that, 10% faster? Dang. Second run I actually jumped a few things, but probably blew a few others to turn a 2:35. Bart’s time stood for the win. Dowhnill racing is fun. We need some rocks in Bend or I need to remember my teenage years of east coast DH charging so I can start riding kind of fast. I met up with the boys from Hutch’s Bike Shop in Bend who were up shuttling from Timberline for a super fun bomb run down the Glade Trail in the afternoon and generally re-confirmed that regardless of all this Olympic World Cup seriousness, riding bikes is a damn good time.

We’re getting a bit long-winded here, so a few more anecdotes and I’m going to go for a ride or do something outside here in Maine where it’s a beautiful fall day. I’m here because the US Olympic Committee invited us to the White House for a little meet and greet with the President and it seemed like a Maine stopover was in order. That’s right, Mary Mcconnelaug, about 300 other Olympians and I got to stand on the back porch and south lawn while Bush gave a speech about our Great Olympic Team and the future of American Physical Fitness. Somehow Mary and I ended up about one row behind the Prez while he spoke which set her up perfectly for her plan to hand him a signed copy of a Seven Cycles catalog. He was visibly stoked to talk to us MTB’ers. Turns out our leader had ridden the Olympic Course and was impressed that we were able to ride it all without stopping, let alone race. So, regardless of our current international and economic situation, W likes bikes. Hopefully this means some eleventh hour appointments in favor of IMBA and Forest Service support for trails. Bikes are fun after all… Then we got the White House tour. Nice place.

Our buddy of Offroad to Athens production fame, Jason Berry, rescued us from a ride on the puke-bus and five hours of sitting at Dulles Airport after the White House. Instead he picked us up at the east gate and took us for a mountain bike ride at Great Falls park. That’s my idea of a travel day afternoon. Singletrack and waterfall scouting. Perfect. Thanks, Jason.

What else? Um, we’ve been riding dirt bikes on perfect dirt. That’s fun. I rode bikes in the first snow of the year in the Cascades on Saturday. Cold, but fun and exciting. Carl and whoever he can get to help have been working on the Rally Car in earnest. We dropped the new (300hp) STI engine in on Sunday at about midnight. That’s the last heavy job in our quest for a FAST Open Class car to race at the Mt. Hood Rally next weekend in Oregon. Now Carl just has to figure out where a few thousand wires go, get some driveshafts made and solve a bunch of other unforeseen problems so we can go racing. I get home on Monday so that leaves approximately 180 man hours before we have to head up to the Gorge for Recce on Friday. I think we’ve got it.

It being the end of the season and all, I don’t have many interesting photos from the last couple weeks, but you can go to these fine websites to find video footage from the Fluidride Cup Slalom and Vegas Cyclocross…

But before you go looking at racing movies, head over to PinnedMTB and buy a raffle ticket to the Tara Llanes Fundraiser! I just sent them a signed 2008 Olympic Jersey and the pair of Smith Serpicos that I wore for that race in Beijing. You can bid on that business in their Ebay auction… Tara is amazingly tough, but she’s not rich. Help a sista’ out!

1 comment:

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