This weekend was the last race of the Winter Series at Fontana and it is almost sad that it is over. Saturday we pulled in our usual TEAM spot and found that Eric “Animal” Hunter had already made it warm and toasty with his portable fire pit! It was rather chilly Saturday morning and thought was nicer to hang out around the fire pit then hop on the bike to pedal. But as I was tied with Natalie Hassoldt in my group 1–1 on race finishes I wanted to see if I could finish off the series with one more win! I spent the whole week training hard by riding my Ellsworth Moment, which I refer to as my heavy bike. Training went well and I felt good in the morning. Got the Ellsworth Truth down and Tony gave her the “once over” to ensure she was race ready!
I took my Sport Legs, aspirin & sport drink ready to roll. Start some warm up runs around the parking lot or as recently has been referred to as “Southridge Village.” I ran into Loran Langford, from Lady P’s group, and we pedaled around trying to get warm. I got up to the Start line and tried to work my way to the front to avoid getting stuck in the back of the crowd. I also noticed that Natalie was working the same angle on the other side of the line up. Donny sounds his horn and we are off! Fighting to get forward up on the first turn but a gentleman cut me off slightly but I didn’t let it go for long. Heading up the first short climbs I manage to pull ahead of the crowd (of men). I lost track of Natalie somewhere in the chaos so I just kept pushing. Worked my way up the paved road to find Tony at the top cheering me on! I asked him where she was and he told me she was about a minute ahead of me! “DARN!” I thought I didn’t think I could make that much time up and didn’t see her pass me but it could have happened. Come to find out later he thought I was chasing Loran.
I make the climbs on the back side of the DH start line and headed for the fun new single track that Donny has cut out! I get a clean break with no one stopping in front of me. The climb out is tough, but a couple of yells and the men hiking up jumped out of the way. I am off again, making clean work of the single track, except a couple Pros coming through; but they are good sports about letting you know and pacing when you tell them it’s “OK.”. Then I see Loran… I then assess if I can catch Natalie, because I have still not seen her; I would then chase after Loran! She throws a “cheer” in my directions and I am on the chase! The remainder of the race we are on the pedal nonstop! I work my way to the finish line and was spent.
I then ran into Natalie’s friends who asking me where she was! I had to remain sportsman like and not jump for joy as I realized at that moment I WON… YES!!! I met her at the finish line and we both cheered and talked about how much fun it was racing against each other! I finished with a time of 40:48 and Natalie’s time was 42:02. Just for good measures I was thrilled when I saw that Loran’s time of 40:40 was only 8 second ahead of me!
Well, as the story goes, I make a quick change of clothes and gear, put my Truth on the rack and get the DH ready to go practice! I did however take the shuttle truck to the top as I did not see myself pushing to the top this day! We all got to the top and off we go. First few turns were good, and I was able to find the clean lines. There was the little rock garden with a quick right however left no space for error and you could see lots of scrapings on the rock. I tried to keep some speed up but had no luck. I caught a pedal there as well and had to use Fred Flinstone type movement to get over the section. I will tell you now that was the way my race run went as well on that section. Then came a few more corners and then…the rock drop to sharp, deep rutted left turn! I remember this turn from the first race and told myself just get in the rut and hold it! YEAH!! It worked I didn’t go rolling over the corner and down the hill! The rest of the course was fun. The turn and “G–out” up to rock garden I cleaned without looking like a ping pong ball! I hit the paved road and then onto the lower rock garden. To my surprise it was a straight shot on the high right side. I love this line and hit pretty clean. I then headed for base camp!
The awards were long today because of the Winter Series overall points. In addition to the day’s awards, they were also handing out the WS Overall awards. I took first place in XC and Overalls with the support of our team Mtnbikerides.com! We cheered on all of our teammates as they each placed in their groups! Then it was back to practice.
Sunday morning, raise & shine only to find no shine, it was raining. We had out to Fontana to find teammates, David, Joe & team manager “Boss” RL are already covered in mud from their early practice runs. I was not too thrilled about another race in the rain but we unloaded, set up the pop–up and head to the top of the hill, via shuttle truck! The course was a bit nicer with having the rain. My run went pretty clean overall. Then it is the anxiety filled waiting for race time. Tony is the first to leave the team and head to the top! Then check & recheck the bike, listen to some tunes on my Ipod and then start getting the gear on! We hit the shuttle trucks to the top and then it hits – no rain but WIND! I do the usual chatting at the top, then the line up.
Photo by Dale Hernandez
Donny counts down and I am off. I clean the first turns where I had bobbled earlier in practice. I do the Fred Flinstone over the rock section as I felt the bash ring or pedal hit the rock. I shot through the runs and came up on rock drop then a hard left. I found the rut and rode it as if I was on a kiddy ride! Somewhere however the feet came off the pedal and I couldn’t find them. It was as if they disappeared. Knowing the rock garden was coming up I got to feeling around and finally there they are! I came around the “G–out”, up and over the garden a little shaky but stayed my line through out. I headed for the lower rock garden and the rock drop seemed to have no transition. I hear Pillar cheering me as I came through the section, which was nice and then I could hear Dan Snook yelling “Off the BRAKES!” It was not a clean drop of the rock and lost my line but recovered without crashing! Then I hear the words “PEDAL KIM PEDAL” I used all that I had left to stand up and pedal! I have to admit though about middle of that wall I sat down to finish the pedal as the little legs were DONE! I saw the Finish line and stood up to finish clean and there was Joe yelling at me to pedal!
Photo by Bryguy17
Over the entire series both XC & DH has been a fun time. The competition was great and the learning of DH racing has been an experience! I have enjoyed the friendships that have developed with our team, the food and just fun time hanging out! I would like to thank our team sponsors and looking forward to next races.