Race Report – SRC Winter Series XC Race #1 Jan 9th 2010

The winter holidays came and went all too quickly for me.  I had dreams of a 3 month off-season but the 1st race of the 2010 winter series was approaching quickly and I decided to treat this as training for the bigger races from March to May. It was a beautiful day with temps in the 70s and as usual Don Jackson and his crew at Southridge Racing do an excellent job in providing a fun race environment. I noticed more entrants in the younger categories, it’s great to see more kids getting into this sport!

For Sport, the course was the same as November’s Southridge Challenge – three,  5.5mile laps.  This was gonna be a challenge as  I do better on the longer courses at Southridge, they have more singletrack and downhill that suit my riding style and help me make up time on the stellar climbers in my category (Sport 27-34).  Climbing is my weakness, I have a gut and at 185lbs (5’8″) I’m heavy/stocky for an XC racer. I even have a habit of blowing up in races by sprinting from the start line for too long!  After about 6 weeks without training, I knew that I couldn’t hold a sprint very long. So when Donny counted us down and we took off, I dropped into third and planned to keep the leaders in site.  We climbed to the water tower and the leaders gradually pulled away and I fell back a few more positions leaving me a panting, sweaty mess as I mushed my way up the hill. I recovered in the single track sections to regain third and moved into second on one of the long downhill sections. My strategy became clear.

On the way to the asphalt road for the water tower climb
On the way to the asphalt road for the water tower climb

I held second to start the next lap and as we climbed to the water tower I was passed again, but I kept my competitors in sight this time. Through the single track I was flowing and managed to close the gap as we approached the downhill where I previously passed. We start heading downhill and I’m cranking hard, building speed to shoot past #2 and eventually the race leader. Next is a short uphill I desperately climb and barely manage to keep the wolves at bay into the next downhill singletrack section where I can build a gap. I finish lap two and begin lap three. I don’t see anyone as I begin to grind my way up to the water tower, my right knee burning in protest as I try to put some power down. After negotiating some of the rolling hills near the water tower as I grit my way up the last climb before the single track, I look back and see 2nd place 10 yards back and attacking! I attack, he knows he is close and is trying to catch me. I sprint, my legs grow thick and heavy with lactic acid, my lungs burn as I sink into oxygen debt my pulse fills my ears, I can only hold this pace for a moment more. I put about thirty yards between us as crest the hill and bomb into the single track. I pedal all the downhills and by the end I enjoy a 2 min victory! Before you think that I was lying about not being in shape, I finished in 1:12:51, in November I finished in 4th with a 1:10:52, so that means that the fast guys just didn’t show up for this race and I’ve got some work to do.

1st XC race win, Sport 27-34
1st XC race win, Sport 27-34

I’ve got to thank the team sponsors for their help, Evomo and Hoss for the cool clothes, IceToolz for the tools and Serfas for the glasses and Ergon for the comfort.

Race Report – SRC Winter Series DH Race #1 Jan 10th 2010

On Jan 10th I headed out to Fontana for one last practice run and my first DH race in the sport category. After a few mishaps in my first couple races, I managed to finish out 2009 with some success in the beginner group and decided it was time to move into sport.

The DH course was a mix of previous Southridge Racing Co courses. With the upper 1/4 from November’s Southridge Challenge and the next 1/4 from July’s Fontana City Nationals. This meant a couple cool lines in the upper section with some berms and fast sections. A rocky chute into soft sand that took out many riders followed by some of the dustiest, loosest S-turns in SoCal! This was followed by a nice g-out hip and then a long pedal to cross the fire road into the usual rock garden and the dreaded wall!

Thank goodness the course was familiar because following the previous day’s XC race I just had nothing in the tank and managed just two practice runs before calling it a day due to exhaustion.

Sunday was a beautiful day and I whipped out the Vholdr Contour HD 1080p helmet cam to record my run. At 2:52 I’m neither happy nor dissatisfied with my time (7th in sport 27-34), I know I’ve got to get quicker if I want to podium, but with three total practice runs, it wasn’t a bad outing.

I’ve got to thank the team sponsors for their help, especially KHS bicycles for the demo Lucky 7 bike to use! Evomo and Hoss for the cool clothes, IceToolz for the tools and Serfas Optics and Ergon for helping us be comfortable.

Race Report: Rock Shox Golden State Downhill Final at Mammoth Mountain – David Sanderson

When I heard the final race in the Rock Shox Golden State series would be in Mammoth, I knew I just had to get there.  Fortunately, so did the rest of the Mtnbikeriders team!  Wednesday night I headed over to the Finch’s (Kim & Tony), loaded up the truck and took off at midnight. Plan was to be in Mammoth ready to ride by 8am to get in on the first official practice session.  I was supposed to nap before leaving and sleep in the truck when it wasn’t my turn to drive…yeah, that didn’t happen!  I was way too amped to get to Mammoth and ride some real downhill terrain.

We pulled into the Mammoth parking lot, full of a big breakfast, got registered and ready to ride.  It’s funny how far we traveled to this race only to find all the same usual suspects present!  Sometimes it’s hard to get out of the parking lot, there so many people to go say what’s up to.

Tony, Kim and I head up for our first practice with Tony in the lead.  What a course, steep chutes, gaps, berms, a wall-ride and a rock garden!  Tony and I estimate this is a 4 minute course and at altitude this is gonna hurt!  Thank goodness we got there early and are able to dial in our lines over 3 days before race day.  We rode all day, all weekend, 5 practice runs a day, followed by riding the rest of mountain!  no wonder my legs are beat and I’m beat up!  The KHS Lucky 7 is getting a work out on this trip!

Thanks to all the practice with the Wizard, I’m feeling pretty fast and confident come race day.  This is the first race where I actually start to discuss race strategy with Tony.  Before, I always just went for it. No brain, no headache! I watched the Pros practice and the number one thing I took away is PEDAL!  Everywhere you can, PEDAL that bike!  As we approach race day, I’m prepared and I’ve got my eyes set on one man, Ed Suarez!  This is my third DH race and Ed won the previous two (I went 10th place and 3rd).  I know I’ve practiced enough to ride as fast as I can, the question is, am I faster than Ed?

Race day, I’m chilling out, hanging with the team until about fifteen minutes before my race run.  Time to step into my office, I throw on my helmet and pedal around.  I’m supposed to be warming up, but my heart is already beating hard.  I try to calm down and visualize my run from top to bottom, what line to take, where to pedal, where to save energy and when to let it all hang out! I pull into the gate and hear “Rider, fifteen seconds”.

GO! Out of the gate I hammer, I pedal hard even though I already know (from watching the guys before me) I can only get in seven pedal strokes before braking for the first left!  The visualization technique worked, I’m not “thinking” about my lines, I’m on auto-pilot.  It’s almost as though I’m playing a video game.  My mind is free to think clearly at a higher level, I’m not thinking about where I am but rather where I will be in a few moments.  The next move after the 1st left is a sharp right into a steep chute that I roll into and start staring at the ground just a few feet ahead of me.  My internal monologue kicks in, “What are you doing David?, look up, look further ahead”.  I’m amazed as I raise my focus from ten to twenty five yards out, my whole world slows down and I have time to asses and plan my next moves.  I accelerate to top speed out of the chute.  I’m going so fast I float over two drainage ditches serving as gaps followed by a right turn, a few rocks and then into a loose pumice set of S-turns!  Have you ever ridden in sand?  Imagine that sensation, but downhill at speed!  After the pumice is a short steep hard pack section, speeding you into a huge table top jump.  I’d been airing this jump all weekend long, but the wind was kicking and I stay low on this run to land cleanly descending into first fast straight-away!  Fast as in eye-balls jumping around in your skull, blurred vision and sweaty palms.  “Just keep looking far ahead” the voice in my head chirps.  Into another series of pumice S-turns followed by the sweet wall-ride!  You’ve got to get the previous corner just right to use it, but the wall-ride turns out to be an E-ticket ride for me, I’m on it, high and PEDALING!  Steve the course marshal gives me a hoot as I’m spit out into the only major rock garden on the course.  I observed the fast guys and learned to use the left line out onto the spine of the last rock into a small drop followed by a banked turn.  PEDAL hard through the small straight into a tight turn and more loose-pack.  Now gasping for air pedal another straight, through a right turn onto a platform followed by a drop into a left turn, small jump, right turn and PEDAL!  I roll the first three tabletops, hammering the whole way to get enough speed to clear the last double into three tight banked turns in a row!  Hammer down another straight into a bermed left-turn that leads us into the 4X track!  4X on a bike over 40lbs is an experience, through the jumps, boulders and berms.  PEDAL and build speed.  In the triples, I manage to double then roll the last one. I’m pumped because I always rolled the triples in practice, damn! I must be haulin!  Over the last tabletop, “PEDAL!”, and I’m across the finish.

I get to meet up with Tony and watch the rest of the team come down.  I’m having a great time and I know I had a solid run.  I could only think of about two to three seconds I could have saved if I rode perfectly.  Anxiously I await the final results.  RL sees them before me and just walks by coyly “I’ll let you go see”,

I hustle over and see my name in first place!  I even put seven seconds between me and second!  Damn, I might be ready to move up to sport!  This is my first win and man, it felt great, especially beating a few guys who’ve beaten me in the past!  I really thought I would’ve won a XC race before a DH one, but I guess I was wrong!  Coming up will be the november race in Fontana.  The plan is for that to be my last beginner race with a move to sport in 2010!  I know Ed’s gonna bring it at the next race, I’m not going to sneak up on him again!  I gotta thank the team sponsors, Hoss, Evomo, Ice Toolz, Serfas and Ergon.  A huge thanks goes out to KHS bicycles and their Lucky 7.

Race Report: Kim Finch – Nationals, Sol Vista Bike Park, Granby CO 07/17/09

Editorial by David Sanderson

Team racer extraordinaire Kim Finch qualified for Nationals this year, so a support squad formed and we were off to beautiful Colorado!  I’ll let Kim re-tell the story from here…

I finally qualified for the US Cycling Nationals, to be held at Sol Vista Bike Park in Granby, Colorado! I was so excited when I got that email! This was what I had been working towards all season! We make our arrangements and before you know we are off to the airport! With entourage & Ellsworth Truth in tow we are off. Want to know how special I felt? Well, I have my person bike technician, Tony, personal engineer, David & my personal photographer, Tim! Now how lucky can one girl get! We arrive in Denver, CO obtain our car and head out!

We are all starving so we find what appears to be the hot little local restaurant, called Jack & Grill. It was very good! Then off to the venue! With all my copilots fallen asleep, but it was okay, there was just awesome scenery everywhere! We headed straight to venue for check in & to get a the overview of the event. All the usual vendors were there to help as needed. Saw several SRC racers and chatted with some DH pro ladies that I knew! We hit the condo, checked in & Tony got right to putting my bike together! We enjoyed hanging out that evening. Elevation was approximately 8,200 feet.

Up early Friday morning for breakfast and off to the venue. The guys rented some nice DH bikes and went off to play. I rode in the hills to adjust to the elevation and found a very fun little single track that I kept playing on and a couple good little hill climbs to warm up! We rejoined for lunch as race time was @ 3:00pm. The weather was perfect, on the high 70’s. Just prior to start time some cloud cover rolled in which made it even nicer! “Racers to staging!” I hear the announcement and I am off to the start line.

My crew also takes a break to cheer me on @ the start. I have four women in my group & come to find out they live in areas that are at least 7,000ft elevation. For the first line is a very large very steep climb on the fire road. I live through the climb wondering when there would be an oxygen stand! Then a left turn pass the 4X stating line and I hear Brittney from SRC yelling for me! After a bit more fire road, the climb cuts into the trees! From this point I am completely thrilled that is was going to be a nice mix. Into the trees, I should say FOREST, with a technical climbing of single track up over rock gardens, roots and some soft dirt areas. Then hit a bit of a fire road which gave me a chance to recover. I seem to be breathing somewhat normal by now, I was surprised!

Then back into the forest for more single track! I passed several women and a few men along the way! I was having some much fun at one point I forgot this was a race! Half way through the course we merge again with the main course and then I have the advance men passing, but everyone was very cool! The one main obstacle was coming in fast on a a downhill single track that there seemed to be a lot of spectators at. Once I saw it I understood why everyone was watching there..it was carnage! As I came around this steep rutted corner one of the photo guys yelled out about the rut. I of course gave my thoughts on this rut as soon as I saw it and the photographer thought my comment was hilarious! Once I made it to the turn and rut, I thought it faster to slide down this carnage drop of silt then to tumble OTB! This is just what I did, of course at that very moment I watch two men come down, one came down on wheels and the other came down..well lets say a little different! I hop back on & hit the single track! This single track is full of banking turns and sweeping corners! This is my favorite part! This is why I torture myself on those climbs!

About 2-3 miles to go & I hear the guys cheering me on and they are all taking photos! I was excited! I had no crashes and everything was working perfect! Through another bunch of trees and I can see the finish area. I hit it with all that I had left! I crossed the finish line and I had done it! I didn’t even care where I placed I came to Nationals & completed without a single problem!

Times got posted really late, but I came in 2nd place, 20minutes behind first! I cleaned the other two riders by a least 27 minutes and when checking times later I beat the times of all the ladies in 30-39 CAT3 and even a couple in 20-29 CAT3, so needless to say I was thrilled! Funny thing is that I was not tired, I felt I could ride a bit more. That would be related to continued use of “Sport Legs‘! I did get to play on the DH trail with the guys on Saturday and I tell you this is a place that has to go down on the “MUST RIDE AGAIN” list of places to ride!  Well, that’s all for now! We’ll see you at the races! Thanks to all of our sponsors!

– Kim

Race Report: Kim Finch – Golden State DH Series Race 3 July 12th, 2009

Editorial by David Sanderson, As Team MtnBikeRiders prepares for the Golden State Series Finale at Mammoth Mountain this coming weekend, we found that Kim’s report from race #3 had gone missing.  So I dug through the archives and found it. The following is Kim Finch’s race report from #3 of the Golden State series, better late than never…

Well, another trip to Fontana for the SRC racing Golden State Championship Series presented by Rock Shox. To say it was HOT is an understatement. We decided to do a late afternoon practice on Saturday and I got in a few runs and found the course very silty & soft. The G-out and off camber turn, I would have to say, was the hardest for me so I decided to take it slow and safe. I also had in the back of my mind the fact that the very next weekend I was racing X-C Nationals in Colorado.

Practice was intense and I noticed even Moe had taken a few soil samples. We arrived Sunday to find most of the team already present. Tony was covering the camera shots and making sure my bike was good to go.

Got in a practice run to see if any changes had been made with Traci, my competition. The silty corner was worse then the day before and I expected it to be worse by my race run. Also there was the rock garden that was new to me on this course. I didn’t clear it the first time so made a couple more attempts at it to try to build the confidence. This race was a two run format which meant I got to torment myself twice in the same day! First run was clean on top and I was excited. I really would like this course if it had been during the winter series. Hit the G-Out pretty good and stayed low on the silty corner. Had to toe dab a couple of times but made it through. However once over the top I had the Pro line to hit the next section..This was not good for me. I stopped and realigned myself, I did not want to OTB on the first run or even the second run! Cleared the next couple of rock gardens but came to the last one before the straight away & I froze. I had to jump off and run down it. Now of course I was kicking myself about this act of being chicken. I cleared the remaining and lower rock garden even the little roller/dropper I have never liked all season. Went for a little rest and talking to myself the whole time about the jump off the bike trick and then back to the top for run number two.

OK I am going to nail this! Started off clean, clearing the upper section and even the silt corner, popped up over the top and had my line! Now by this time team members & friends have lined themselves at the rock section I was still not confident on. I knew I could do it and told myself has I hear my name being yelled “off the brakes” “you can do it” “just do it”! So be it!! I did it! Adrenaline racing like crazy & exhausted, I race for the finish line! I cross to the happy faces of friends and David Buckle saying good job! I waited for Traci to cross and then hugs! She crashed but seemed OK! I took 1st place and was excited about it! I want to thank Tony for helping me with practice, bike tuning and just be there for me! I also want to give a big thanks to team sponsors, Evomo, Hoss, Serfas, Ice Toolz, Ergon and Sportlegs! Now it’s off to Colorado!

Race Report: California Golden State race #3 Fontana

July 11-12th (2009) several members of the Mtnbikeriders.com team made it out to Southridge Park for the third installment of the California Golden State presented by Rock Shox.  The fourth and final round will be in Mammoth(!) Sep 4th-5th, hopefully we’ll see you there!

It was sweltering hot weekend, with temps in the nineties and shade a rare commodity at the top of the hill.  Thankfully Donny Jackson and the SRC crew provided free cold water at the top in addition to their usual excellent shuttle service.

In my short DH experience (3rd race), this was the most fun race course I’ve come across.  Out of the gate were about 5 log stutter bumps into a tight right turn followed by off-chamber rollers that encouraged you to air it out a little, leading into left/right combination.  Then into the first rock garden, which hit just right let you jump the first batch of rocks into a hard left over a few more rocks and then downhill into the first g-out right turn into a very loose, off-chamber section that you had to maintain your speed and line or risk being sucked into the loose talcum-powder dirt.  This was followed by a right into another g-out, left into a small rock garden that led to an optional pro/beginner split.  The beginner line was a tight left/right turn combination that demanded slow speed.  The pro line was over a large boulder with about a three foot drop on the back side, this was the fast line but the consequences were definitely higher!  Interestingly enough I saw people attack this obstacle as a roller into some of the softest, loosest dirt I’ve ever experienced!  I actually was afraid to roll it for fear of digging into the soft dirt and going OTB!  Instead I just pulled up on the bars, leaned back and gritted my teeth until landing in an explosion of dust!  After the drop was more talcum-powder dirt shaped into an S-turn that I washed out in on my first race run (2:31), I didn’t feel too bad as I saw this section swallow people whole as it gobbled on front tires.  Then you dropped into a hard-packed right turn g-out followed by a pair of turns into a small rock garden, then another large boulder drop/roller into three fun rolling jumps.  It was here I was having way too much fun (speed) in my second run (2:19) and was about as out of control as one could be over the third jump, I even skimmed the rear tire with my butt as I fought to not get bucked off this E-ticket ride!  Luck was with me and I proceeded to drop the hammer across the fire road, access road and cut the corner by hopping over the drainage ditch leading into the lower rock garden.

Lower Rock Garden

The lower garden was smooth and fun with a couple tight turns and rollers, but with nowhere near the carnage that it presents in most of the races.  In fact most of the spectators found high spots in the upper half to watch the soft-dirt eat riders up left and right.

Race Results

At the end of it all, I finally scored a podium finish, 3rd place in Beginner Men 27-34 with a combined time of 4:51.40.  Hopefully I’ll continue to improve and make it into the Sport class in time for the next winter series.

Podium

I have to thank Tony (The Wizard) for making it out to practice on Saturday and leading me on my last practice run, until I passed him… until he (taught me a lesson and) passed me back, Arrgh!  The Wizard has probably forgotten more mountain biking than I’ve ever known!  Riding with him and Kim “The Champ” has improved my riding dramatically (and made me appreciate the shuttle!).  I have to thank Moe for the carpooling and comedy (“Dad, I think I’ve got the black lung”), Joe for the good times, Albert for being a stud, Wes for the course knowledge, Kim for being Team Mom in RL’s absence and KHS for the Lucky 7 to ride.  I’ve beaten this bike up pretty seriously, but don’t feel too bad, it has beaten me up too, fortunately we both keep coming back for more! Evomo and Hoss for helping me with the shirt on my back, the shorts on my legs and Ergon for the hydration pack when I’m training (okay I don’t train, but I do ride regularly!), Serfas Optics for the super cool sunglasses and Sportlegs for the help recovering!