Our ‘Mini World Cup’ at Bonelli Park

There was so much awesome going on this past weekend at the Bonelli park Pro XCT HC event.  I have never been more excited to be a mountain biker here in North America.  I feel that our sport is on the rise and is starting to make a comeback, and why wouldn’t it, it’s so darn fun and the vibe at the races is super relaxed and friendly (for the most part)  I heard from multiple people that there were 17 different nations represented for this race, how rad is that!

The course at Bonelli is world class, and definitely one of the hardest courses I have raced.  Every year, without fail in the middle of the second lap I pretty much wanna drop out and have to talk myself into staying in the race.  Scott, Ty, Paul and the rest of the Sho-Air cycling group put in a lot of long hours to help make the course even better than last year.  It’s a pretty relentless course, and most riders, myself included, chose hardtails. I decided to go with the Focus 29er vs. the 650b just because there wasn’t a whole lot of turning or quick accelerations needed.  I have a set of Enve tubulars that I have been dying to race on, they are so light and fast, like a seriously noticeable difference.  But the course got really chewed up from all the pre-riders and Cat 1 races and lack of rain that I had to stick with some beefier tires for fear of eating shit.  The tubular tires are only a 2.0 while I raced on a 2.2.

The most noticeable improvement of everyones hard work was the addition of the ‘a line’ which was a 6×6 beam that separated a log pile on one side and a rock garden on the other, on an uphill.  This section was guaranteed to be entertaining and boy did it deliver, it was even right around here where Kabush started to make his move for the win.

113 riders all competing for something!

113 riders all competing for something! Photo mtbmike.com

Considering the field of 113 riders my callup of around 60 really wasn’t that bad!  I had an OK start on the parade lap and was around the riders that I felt like I should be racing against…until we hit the –aline.  I was pretty confident in my ability to ride the section after pre-riding it the week before, but I definitely should have done a few more runs on it!  I came off on the beam then bumbled the next section pretty good, I was that guy that I wanted to avoid during the first lap when the racing was still really intense.  Of course the only time my chain has ever dropped was during this race when I messed up here.  It took a good bit of time to get it back on and I reckon I lost 10-20 spots.

OK then, keep on keeping on, then I noticed shortly after that I had lost some air in the rear tire somewhere, not sure if I burped it or if it was gonna go flat so I just decided to cruise on it for a while.  I had an extra set of wheels in the pit, but it seemed like everything was all sealed up and good, so I just hit it with some CO2 really quick.

Suffering!  Photo by Phil Beckman

Suffering! Photo by Phil Beckman

It was right about this time, on the second lap having lost some spots, going up the super steep climb on the backside of the course that I decided I was gonna DNF.  I somehow managed to talk myself out of this again and decided I was just gonna race the course from here on out.  I managed to pick off quite a few more riders, but was still not super motivated to bury myself.

At the end of my fifth lap I was pulled from the race, a first for me.  I was pretty bummed at the time then I looked around at all the other riders that were pulled as well and didn’t feel so bad.  Then when I checked out the results and saw that only 30 racers out 113 were able to finish the entire race I started to feel a little better.  Then when I went and watched the replay of the race, which was covered awesomely, BTW, pretty much as good as the world cups I’ve watched online, and saw Manuel Fumic eat it really bad on the a-line on the first lap (along with dozens of other riders) and I wasn’t as bummed.

I’d like to give a big thank you to Roger and Cheyne of Kenda tires for the support.  I wasn’t even running kendas but they were more than willing to feed me and help with anything I needed, so thanks guys!  Looking forward to running the new turnbull canyons.

I finished in 50th which isn’t awesome but that’s ok.  The event was so much fun and it was just rad to toe the line with some of the worlds greatest mountain bikers, granted I was toeing it from 6 or 7 rows back, but whatever it was an experience not soon to be forgotten.

Pictures following soon…

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