After Saturday’s XC and Super D races, Moe, Kim, Tony, Joe and I did some DH practice to get some feel of what the course will be for the race. After a few sessions up on the mountain, we called it a day. Sunday morning came and the 5 of us went up the hill again to get even more familiar on what laid ahead.
The races started at 10:30am, but that doesn’t mean all of us had to get on the shuttle at that time. The seed list stated that our race would be 2.5-3 hours after the start. So that meant that I would be racing around 1:30pm. But around 11:30 am, one of the racers came over to our camp to let us know that it was the last call for the shuttle. We gathered all of our gear and headed over to the shuttle area. Then we were trucked up to the top and as I looked around, you can see that everyone seemed nervous.
Though Kim Finch has done a DH race before, this was her first time racing at Fontana. Moe was also a DH race virgin and anxiety was written on his face. Joe seemed pretty cool and gathered. Not that I have all this race experience. But my memory served me well since everything about this race reminded me of the last race, so in a way, things seemed very familiar.
As we get up to the top, the wind is kicking super hard. I would take a guess of 30-50mph…but I’m no Meteorologist so don’t take my word for it. We wait as they call off each group. First up was Tony since he’s in sport, then it was Moe and Joe after them was Kim and then yours truly. I happen to be the LAST racer on the course, well except this one dude that missed the shuttle so he had to do his run after, but he was some sort of Expert racer.
Anyhow, my only competition in the 200 Club (that’s for the big boys) was Johnny D. If you remember, in the last Southridge Race, he was the rider that beat Joe Solancho out of 3rd place. I actually had to gain some weight in order for me to qualify for this category. The holidays made it way easy to do so…
Since I was last, I watched Johnny meander through the first few S turns of the course, I was also counting down to see if he could make it to a certain point before Mr. Jackson (event organizer) told me to go. Basically if Johnny could make it to a drop in course before Mr. J counted me down from 5,4,3,2,1, then that means he was going slow enough for me to catch him. But Johnny was fast that day…he drop in before Mr. J counted me down. So that meant I had my work cut out for me.
As I heard Mr. J say “1”, then all things went silent. My eyes were glued to the trail ahead of me and all I heard was my breathing and the occasional gust of wind that would nicely cool my body down.
Section after section, I pinned it. There were a few places in which I didn’t do well in during my practice runs. But during my race run, I was dialed in. I didn’t have any problems, until I approached the lower rock garden. I saw another racer named Lala from Incycle and I kindly told her that I was coming behind her and she gladly obliged and let me pass. I make the left turn before the garden, and mentally prepped myself to go high and left on the rocks. In practice, this section would be the trickiest, but was manageable. But on the race, this will be the thorn on my side. As I go high on rocks, I miscalculated and went above my line, causing me to hit a baby head which then bounced me to my right and I slammed into a big boulder. Hitting my head and knee all at the same time.
It took me a good second to realize what had just happened, and if it wasn’t for the yelling and screaming of the spectators saying “C’mon man, you’re ok, go go go!” then I probably wouldn’t have gotten up so fast. As I start to clear the last part of the garden I began hearing my wife and kids cheering me on, man what a great feeling to hear their sweet voices. I was so happy to hear them that I happily said, “Hi Girls!”
The “wall” is where you can earn some crucial time, its a flat sprint to the finish. But what was terrible about it was the head wind. However, for about 20 seconds of my sprint along the wall, the wind stopped…ya I’m giving credit to that one to my main man, God. I started seeing the finish line then the wind blew really hard. Not strong enough to slow me down, but it was a welcomed wind that cooled me as I rolled through the finish line.
We then met up at base camp exchanging stories of our runs, then Moe ran over to see the results and came back with great news. Both of the Fabulous Finch placed, Kim was 2nd in her cat, Tony 3rd in his cat and surprisingly I came in first. I really didn’t think I would take 1st since I had such a bad crash. I was checking the video footage and I had lost about 8 seconds during that crash. But somehow I still managed to do well enough to put in a 10 second deficit against my formidable opponent, Johnny D.
This was my second DH race ever and funny thing was I was racing with an inexpensive AM bike, the Ibex Ignition 3…yeah its got mad travel of 4 inches in the rear…But I would like to thank our sponsors, Ergon Grips, Evomo, Hoss MTB and BikeCommuters.com. I would also like to thank Johnny D. for his mad skills at the race. He inadvertently helped ride better that day since my goal was to catch him during my run. Though I never saw him until the finish line, it was a great time to race against him.
Talking to Johnny after the race.