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

Ride Report: Sol Vista Bike Park, Granby CO 07/17/09 – 07/18/09

Though Tony, Tim and I went to the U.S. Nationals in support of Kim Finch on her XC efforts, you didn’t think we weren’t gonna ride did you? Oh, also Johnny D was in attendance for a bit of work/play. Sol Vista is a lift accessed mountain bike park with several DH and XC routes available. They use the same Murray-Latta bike trays as found in Whistler, so you know they’re good! Though they only have a single-chair lift, the “Sheriff” does a good job of packing everybody on and keeping the line moving. If you take into account the fact we were there during the weekend of nationals and still got plenty of rides, so you know the line is not an issue.

The Trails: Sol Vista has a variety of terrain, from rocky descents to fast flowing DH with a couple drop descents thrown in. Unfortunately due to Nationals, Cougar was closed as was a section of Drifter. As far as difficulty is concerned, there was plenty to be enjoyed by a beginner and to push an average expert rider. Beyond that skill level, I figure you’re going/gone/ or at Whistler while reading this.  Check out videos of the Sol Vista Trails!

A clip of Tony, followed (filmed) by Tim

The Location: Granby CO (2 hours NE of Denver) is idyllic, with beautiful scenery around every turn.

It was actually a little difficult to sleep at night due to the quiet! Granby and the surrounding communities all have a small town feel and are a wonderful escape from city life. You’re surrounded by streams, lakes, ponds and trees. It really makes you feel at one with nature.

Things to do: Eat! Seriously though, being a small town, the night life is not strong. You don’t come here to go hit the clubs, that’s for sure. Instead this has more of a circle of friends around a camp fire, sharing stories and brews feel. Besides, you’ll have plenty to talk about. In addition to mountain biking, there is a plethora of fishing, camping and white water rafting nearby to fill your days. Don’t forget, Crankworx CO at Winterpark is also nearby, though I didn’t get to sample the trails there, Johnny D vouches for them being pretty good and worth the trip.

Gear: There are several full-service bike shops nearby ready to fulfill your needs. It’s funny going from So Cal to CO. In So Cal you’ll find huge Specialized, Giant and Intense presence in most shops. In the three shops I visited in CO, the strongly represented brands were Yeti and Rocky Mountain with a little of everything else sprinkled in. Sol Vista itself has a basic service bike shop with a large rental fleet. I took advantage of a Santa Cruz V-10 the first day and moved to the lighter Bullit the next. Tim tried the Yeti 303RDH and Tony rode a Commencal Racing Supreme DH. All the DH bikes run Fox 40 forks and a variety of quality builds, everyone with a bashguard/chain guide and crank bros 50/50 pedals. If you run clipless, bring your pedals!

A clip of me on the Bullit, I’m not mad!  I’m looking at the camera thinking “did the red light turn on or not?”

Would I do it again? Yes, but only if I was going to mix in more than just riding Sol Vista. If I go again (and I’m sure I will eventually), I’m going to make sure my trip includes an event like the U.S. Nationals or Crankworx. Perhaps some fishing or camping. If I lived within an eight hour drive of Sol Vista, I’d be there regularly; flying from LA makes this trip prohibitively expensive for a just for fun weekend getaway. But hey, your budget is your budget and if you want to check out a great bike park in a great place to visit, Sol Vista could be right for you.