Sage Brush Safari

Im damn glad that I got the opportunity to go out and pre-ride the course before the race, as I learned that its dry as hell!  I was pretty delirious after the pre ride, as I didnt have enough water or nutirion, and we took it super easy.  So after that I made the decision to rock a camelback, as it was supposed to be 90 degrees and really dry race day.

So I dug out the trusty old camelback, dusted it off and headed out to lake Morena for my 3rd geared US Cup race of the year.  I made it out there with plenty of time to spare and sat around shooting the shit with Len, and even got a chance to hangout with Johnny Q for a little while too.  Made sure I took plenty of electrolyte pills, put nutrition in my bottle, and applied plenty of sunscreen and headed out for a quick 20 minute warmup before heading to the line.  
Again we were lucky to start with the 35-39 age group which is full of hammers.  The first two miles of the course are on pretty much flat pavement, then a nice little two mile climb immediately after that before funneling into some super fast and fun singletrack.  At the start everyone was in a solid paceline with Marco and Ty leading the pack, I was doing ok just sitting in midpack at about 10th.  As soon as we hit the climb there was a break and I was a little bit to far back to cover it, but I somehow managed to bridge up to Justin Mann bringing with me another rider in my age group.  For some reason my stomach was not agreeing with me at this point, looking back I think I ate too close to start time, I felt like I was going to vomit and I wasn’t even going that hard.  
Justin slowly dropped me and the other rider, and we took turns pulling in front of each other the rest of the climb.  I know that most people in my group aren’t that good at technical downhills and I somehow managed to throw it in the big ring and pass the other dude just before we entered the singletrack.  I just rode at a good comfortable pace on this fun section and slowly kept reeling people in.  Knew I was doing ok, at least in second but not sure if Brandon Gritters showed up and if he was in the break with Marco?  So I boogied out pushing it pretty good on the downhill to try to grab a few extra seconds before the dreaded hike a bike section that was next (thank you preride!)
Entry Singletrack…
I got up and over the hike a bike with no major issues continuing to reel in other riders, and didn’t see anyone really gaining on me.  Flew down the fire road descent to the longest climb of the race Los Pinos.  Its a solid paved climb thats around 4 miles long.  I had kinda been saving a lot for this climb as I knew if I were to blowup here a bunch of people would pass me.  Managed to put out a good pace all the way to the top in the big ring with no one gaining on me.  Still had no sign if anyone was in front of me from my age group, all I had to do from here is throw down some solid downhill runs with a short climb and I was definitely on the podium.
I passed Justin with a flat, thanks to a 4″ long nail, right before the Los Pinos downhill which has to be one of the best descents on the entire US Cup.  Put in a good run, with a short little climb back to four corners for the last downhill before two miles of flat back to the start.  Which, also, has to be one of the most fun singletracks so far this season, this is definitely my kind of racing!  Unfortunately the trail was a little crowded with some sport and beginner riders finishing too, so it was hard to get super focused on the trail.  
Managed to make it down to the finish without anyone passing me, and ended up second on the day in my age group, Gritters was in fact there and in the break with Marco.  Damnit!  Ohh well next time, I had a super fun day racing at one of the best stops on the Cup, this is more what mountain biking is all about!  Got to hangout at the loaded tent with Johnny and Len and drink some beers before making the drive back north.  
Ohh yeah, ran into my old co-worker Elise and her BF Jake from JPOV photography and they snapped this great pic!

Santa Ynez

After having a crappy performance at Sea Otter last weekend, I felt the need for another race with some better results.  So I woke up at 4:30 Sunday morning and was on the road up to Santa Barbara to race the Santa Ynez Triple Crown.  Made good time through LA and got there with enough time to register and try to take a quick cat nap. 

It was super hot and dry so I sat around in the shade as long as possible, got in a quick 15 minute warm-up and was at the start with about 5 minutes to spare.  There was only about 40 feet after the start before the fire-road made a sharp right and turned into single track.  At the whistle everyone kinda scattered around all weird and I ended up sitting pretty crappy somewhere in the middle around 15th or so.  The first climb had quite a few switchies, and was pretty steep, and I was stuck behind some goober who thought he was a pro (he made some annoying comments at the start line, hence the goober comment).  He was starting to get gapped and someone behind me barked at him with an insult and told him to bridge the gap or get the F*!k out of the way, it was hilarious!

So worked my way around that guy, and managed to pass just about everyone else, except the leaders, at the top of the climb and saw the top two guys in my category a good 50 yards ahead.  I was able to catch them on the descent and settled in with their pace sitting in third.  I sat in at third for the entire first lap and 3/4 of the second lap.  I just sat there as these guys took turns pulling analyzing their strengths and weaknesses as this was the first time I really got to race with these guys.

We dropped Gareth on the beginning of the last climb out, and he ended up in third. On the last climb I knew I had to make a push for the win (which I should have done 5 miles ago) and there was only one little passing lane coming up, as it was a pretty tight single track.  I down shifted to clicks and Willard heard me and covered my attack and the little passing area I had, and didn’t get around.  We descended, briefly getting stuck behind a female rider that didn’t want to let anyone pass, and took off once we hit the flat fire-road to the finish.  There was only about 30 feet to the finish line after a sharp left turn which didn’t really provide much room for a sprint finish  So I thanked Willard for pulling the whole race, and let him know I wasn’t gonna sprint and crash us out at the finish and settled for second.

All in all I was pretty happy with my performance but knew that I could have pulled away from those guys, and should have made my move earlier.  I also learned a lot about my competition for the next couple years by sitting in and watching, and they learned nothing about me since I never got a chance to go to the front! 

Excited about racing Idylwild this weekend as it is actually a real mountain bike race with rocks and stuff, unlike Santa Ynez where I didn’t see a single rock the whole time.