OK. Let’s get this “race report” thing out of the way. Because while it was A highlight of my trip, it was not THE highlight.
Friday morning the Princess RV was packed and ready to roll.
Out of town and over the Golden Gate Bridge. (Why is it red, if it is the “Golden” Gate Bridge??? California is a strange place!)
The Boggs Demonstration Forest is north of the Nappa Valley, up (and down) a series of windy switch backed mountains. On the map it looks close to San Francisco but really that’s an optical delusion. Regardless, we got out to the race site before lunch. And once there, we quickly got an idea what the weekend would be like. We were met by a member of the race staff.
“Where is the RV parking?”
“Anywhere you want.”
Anticipating the arrival of Team Fatty Fundo we found a spot that was a) level and b) could fit 2 26ft RV’s. No sooner had we pulled in and gotten out when a guy from a camp site close to ours walked over and said:
“Just want to give you fair warning. This is the area of the campground with women, naked people and loud music.” (As the techno thumped in the morning air.)
“Naked women or naked people?” (I asked)
Well it was the best spot for 2 RV’s we could find and so we decided to go with techno music/naked people spot. Team Fatty Fundo sent a text about their imminent arrival and so I kitted up and biked out to catch them on the road to direct them. When I caught up with them I started directing them to the spot when Elden politely informed me that he had a reserved spot cordoned off for him. A quick survey showed that a) it was level and b) it was quiet and c) could fit 2 26′ RV’s nicely. So Team WBR pulled stakes and went off to the reserved site. Fatty Nation had arrived.
We were all eager to get out and ride the trails. But first a quick selfie for posterity.
The course for the race was simply fantastic. 11 miles of mostly single track niceness. Most of it was wide open flowy stuff. There were sections with rock gardens. There were steep sections. It was what I would call a punch course climbing wise. You know, one of those courses where you feel like you are always going up and never down. Even when you get back to where you started, well it felt like a net up.
But, yeah a fun fun course.
The only real incident on the pre-ride was when Jeff somehow found himself in a tree instead of on a bike. We have photographic proof. I’m not saying how he got up there, just that he was in a tree and not on a bike.
In my SOP race mode, on my pre-ride I felt tired, weak and slow. Luckily I recognize at this point that its just me and I race better than I pre-ride.
The race started Saturday morning at 8 am. Team WBR elected Dave to be the first rider. Chris and I flipped to see who would be second rider. I lost, which meant I was riding the second leg. Chris would ride 3rd. The Bike Monkey folks told us after the fact that there were 900 races lined up at the starting line.
In order to “stretch the field out” the race organizers sent the pack up a climb before routing them onto the course. We watched Dave go by and headed back to the RV. I grabbed some food and then sat down to relax and get into the zone a little bit before my first lap. Me being me I couldn’t sit still and so I warmed up probably a little early and headed to the start finish line to wait for Dave. How did I know I was a little early? Well I got to the start/finish line to see Levi come in and Elden start his first lap for Team Fatty Fundo. (Authors note: Levi is fast. We all know this, but to see it in reality is something completely different. He was about 5 minutes ahead of the other pro riders and 20-30 minutes faster most of us “regular” folk, on a course that took a little over 1 hour to complete. Well for us “regular” folk anyway.)
Dave came in and I jumped onto the course and started my first lap.
Two things of note on this lap. Shortly after the start there is a steep little climb with some rocks. They put in some paivers to give a route up the section. During the pre-ride Elden was quick to point out that ALL of Team Fatty Fundo cleaned that section while non of Team WBR did. I was bound, determined, and focused.
I was climbing up the steep move when a voice said “Doug I’m taking pictures so don’t put your foot down.” It snapped me out of the moment and failed the move. There was the trouble maker from Team Fatty Fundo, Jeff, sabotaging Team WBR. Did I say that out loud? Really I mean “taking pictures”. (The race would be affected again by Jeff later on that day. Also in an incident involving me. Que the ominous music.)
The other thing that happened on this lap? Well. My chain dropped between the rear cassette and the wheel hub. Sound familiar? It sure felt familiar. But this time I had a team depending on me this time and so I worked fast and methodical to get the chain loose. Back on the bike. Then the chain went back over and got stuck again. Grrr….. Keep it out of the big cassette ring!
It’s really really hard to get back into a race after people who you passed go back past you when you are on the side of the trail fixing your bike. But I did my best and actually felt pretty good on the rest of the lap. I crossed the finish line and Chris started his lap. Then I went to the bike mechanic tent and had my low end screw adjusted. Then I went back to the RV to have calm down.
It was right about this time that I began to understand the reality of what was happening. I had just completed what was essentially a XC race. Now I was cooling down and relaxing. It was probably going to be just long enough to get tight and then I was going to get back on my bike and do a second XC race. I began questioning the wisdom of racing on a team and started to think that maybe the 8 hour solo was a better option.
Levi came walking by. “Hey Levi, do you want to ride my second lap for me?”
“Nope. I’m tired from my first lap.”
“The second lap is going to suck isn’t it.”
“Yup. It’s going to take you 15 minutes to get back warmed up. That first climb is going to hurt, a lot.”
Chris finished his lap and Dave took off on his second.
A bag of nacho chips and a chocolate chip muffin later, it was my turn to go back out so I wandered over to the start finish line to wait for Dave. While I was there I saw Jeff get que’d up for Elden to come in so he could take his second lap as well. Levi was about 20-25 minutes faster than any of us and so Elden was due to come in right about the same time as Dave.
I saw Dave and took off like a shot. Jeff was right in front of me on the trail. What? Why was Jeff in front of me? I must have missed Elden finishing. He must have lapped Dave. No worries I was going to go past Jeff and get out lap back.
“On you left Boston Boy!” and off I went. My mission now was to see if I could get enough time on Jeff to keep Chris from being lapped by Levi when he got out for his 2nd lap.
Levi didn’t lie. The first little climb was quite painful, but I settled in and got into a nice groove. I felt strong and biked the uphills with good pace passing people. We were now 5+ hours into a 8 hour race. Many people were riding solo and there was a lot of human wreckage on the course. Lot’s of rabbits to see and pass. My only real hick-up on the lap was when I got a little bit outside the line on a corner. The trail was buff and in good shape, but off the trail the ground was covered with a thick mat pine needles. Dave had warned us that they tended to break loose and slide. I discovered that aspect of the forest floor and went down. Not looking at my body I got back on my bike and finished my lap over 2 minutes faster than my first. (It wouldn’t be till 2 days later that I would actually see the big bruise I put on my left leg during the fall.) My uphills were faster on my second lap, but my downhills were slower. I had a good sense that this was happening because I was starting to get sloppy with my bike handling.
When I pulled into the finish Chris took off. Dave was there and asked about my lap.
“Good lap. I made back the lap you lost to Elden.”
“Elden never passed me. He was a couple of minutes behind me.”
“What? Jeff took off right when you came into the finish. Hey!”
Back up 1:13. Jeff had seen Dave coming into the start/finish line. Dave and Elden were both in WBR kits and Jeff thought that Dave was Elden and took off riding.
As Dave and I were working this out Jeff came trundling in.
“Hey camper. How was your lap?”
“You know you cheated right?”
And so we explained what had happened. Jeff, who really is a great sport, and who really did make an honest mistake, was mortified. He ran over the the timing table and immediately fell on his sword.
I stayed in my kit just in case we had a chance for a 8th lap. But the time ticked away and it was apparent that I wouldn’t get a 3rd lap in. The real value of the Princess RV came clearly into focus. A hot shower. Not only that, but a hot shower while Dave was out racing for our team. I mean I had to take a shower then so that there was hot water for Dave when he finished. Right? 🙂
Eventually Dave finished and our race was done. While Dave cleaned up (see a good thing I took my shower when I did) I checked the results. We finished 26 out of 66 teams. All in all we were pleased with our finish. Dave is training for his second Leadville this summer and so is the most fit of our team. His laps were the fastest. Chris was recovering from a nasty respiratory infection and I was “coming out of hibernation”. We were both a couple of minutes slower.
We all gathered at the finish line for the awards.
I was busy eating my BBQ and didn’t see who ended up on the podium in our division until after they were called up. When I did, my jaw dropped. There were 9 people on the podium (no shock here 3×3 “man” teams) and only 1 of the 9 was of legal drinking age. No, only 1 had even graduated from high school. Our entire division had been “kidded”. They have some very very fast kids in the NorCal NICA league and those kids showed each and every team of men what was coming from the next generation.
We looked on in awe.
“Holy Crap.” (Me)
“We have some fast kids around here.” (Levi, with understatement of the weekend.)
Picture of the Day
“Elden Lap 3”