Race Report: Over the Hump Series

This summer here in Orange County at Irvine lake is a local mountain bike races series on Tuesday nights. The Over the Hump series spans about three months and is twelve races long. This past Tuesday concluded the second installment of the series.

Riders gathering before the race.
Riders gathering before the race.

The first race had around 600 hundred riders participate and there were 77 riders in my class alone. The course is a fairly simple one with no major technical sections, and only two longer extended climbs. The starting line is a fire-road type section overlooking a nice view across Irvine Lake. From the starting line the road makes a generally straight shot to the first climb, but it is subject to two way traffic from the riders (mainly expert/pros on the first lap) ahead returning from the first loop. The course takes a hard right hand turn up the first climb of the lap.

Waiting for the race to begin.
Waiting for the race to begin.

The climb starts the first part of the loop and at the top it levels off hits a added section that differed from the first week’s course. It went through a few turns and and headed down the other side of the hill from what we climbed and then back around and up to where we dropped down and back down the way we came up. After this descent was the fireroad that led back to the starting line.

Down the first descent of the course.
Down the first descent of the course.

Just past the starting line the course makes a left across the lake. After a short rise and matching decline the course leads into another flat. The flat leads around the back of the back the hill which holds the final big (relatively to this course) climb of the lap. From there a short descent leads to the the longest section of mainly single-track with some quick turns. The first week this area ended in a big very muddy section through the brush, but for the second race was a reroute through the sand. Once out of the brush a short fire-road leads to the finish line.

Finishing up the first lap.
Finishing up the first lap.

The first week I was in a rather large class, as I mentioned before, and I started near the back of the group. So for the second race I made sure to try and start closer to the front of the pack. Once off the line the leaders where in a full-out sprint. I sat and spun at a good clip and tried to keep the leaders in site. By my count there were about 7 riders ahead of me at this point and I was trailing the lead pack. We hit the first climb and I thought I passed about 5 riders on the climb. I stood the whole way through the climb hoping to put the other two riders back in sight, but to no avail. The first lap continued uneventful I didn’t see any other riders from my class.

As I exited the brush at the end of the first lap a I finally saw another rider from my class as he passed me. I made sure to stay tight on him through the flats to the first climb where I return the favor and passed him. I pushed hard up the hill to put as much ground as I could between us. Down and back up the back side of the hill I pushed hard before heading down and out of that section. As I crossed the lake the other rider in may class was able to pass me again. After leading through that section of flats I didn’t have enough to fend him off. I made sure to keep him in sight and thought I should be able to gain some ground back on the final climb. I did gain ground, but only cut the distance in half and it was not enough to pass him again. Only twenty yards or so separated us as we zipped through the remaining single-track. As we hit the sand he was able to get around a sport rider who was keeping a good pace. He was going fast enough that I didn’t have enough left to pass him through the sand. As I hit solid ground again it was a hammer-fest to the finish line I was stood the last quarter mile in a full sprint to the finish line.

Clearing the top of the final climb.
Clearing the top of the final climb.

I finish 14 seconds behind the other rider in my class, thinking we were probably about 4th & 5th respectively. Once the results were in to my surprise, I was way off. It turns out I finished 2nd, and once the results were finalized, after the first two races I am leading the series as well.

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