This weekend was a busy one at Fontana’s Southridge Park. Coming out of a long Winter Series, most of my teammates decided to pass on this race. With renewed confidence from the last race, I decided to enter the Downhill Beginner 34-42 category. Unable to practice on Friday, I showed up to the race bright and early. As I was registering, I saw a few familiar faces, the funny thing about racing is that although we race against each other, we all support each other and wish each other the best.
I took it really easy on my first practice run, the top of the course was familiar until I got to the top garden. There were 3 small drop offs to welcome the racers, I stopped dead on my tracks to check out the best line. I was also looking at the other racers and tried to memorize what line would work best for me.
Coming down the first drop off
I basically placed all my faith on the KHS DH200 and rolled the first drop off, I almost ate it since I didn’t have enough momentum to roll thru the next drop off. I hiked back up and a couple of racers that were scouting the course gave me a tip on how to best clear the second drop off.
Getting ready for the next drop off.
The DH200’s suspension did what it supposed to and I cleared both drop offs unscathed. On my second practice run, I took a different line and I felt more comfortable coming down the rocks.
Came race time and this time we didn’t have Donny count us down, instead we got this beeping machine that counted us down in 6 seconds increments. As the last beep sounded, I took off replaying the course in my mind, I cleaned the top section and finally got to the drop offs, I did good on my first drop off but missed my line on the second drop off but I didn’t eat it. Instead, I was not properly set up for the left turn and I ended up bailing out. No soil sampling, just a wash out. I heard Joe yelling at me to get up and keep on going, so I did.
Photo by Mfoga
The next section was a fun, fast singletrack that took me to the bottom. As I cross the road and head to the lower garden my lungs were already burning from all the dust. I cleaned the lower garden and started pedaling hard at the wall. Meanwhile, I hear someone right behind me. I kept on pedaling and finally crossed the finish line and right next to me was the first placer that not only overtook Wes, he caught up to me!
As I wait for all the racers from my category to arrive, I noticed that Max Russo (First place over all on the winter series) hadn’t arrived. About 5 minutes later, the announcer calls Max’s name, obviously something happened to him:
Photo by JS3Images
Max took a nasty spill (He’s OK) but he finished the race. That basically left me on the 3rd place podium 10 seconds away from 2nd place.
I had a great time racing downhill, I have to say that I really missed the rest of my teammates but fortunately Joe was there to cheer me on and to take some sweet pictures.
Next stop: Santa Ynez/Los Olivos (If I manage to get a downhill bike)