Weekend Ride and “NO” Race Report (OTB in practice)

This past Saturday my ride was at Turnbull Canyon in Whittier, CA. Since southern California has been pounded with rain and storm for the past several weeks, this would be the first dry weekend for riding… In addition majority of Orange County’s trails are still closed due to the rains. Needless to say there were a lot of mountain bikers that flocked to Turnbull.

My group of friends consisted of about 15 guys. On the trail we met another group of friends which had 10 guys… so we had a big group ride!
Heading to the trailhead

One highlight of the ride was my friend, Dexter, invested in the Shuttle Buddy. This is a motor assisted contraption that mounts on the rear wheel of your DH bike.

Basically this is a self-shuttle for those who can’t pedal up the mountain. This would be his first trial with the Shuttle Buddy. From where we parked our cars, it’s about 1/8th of a mile to the trail head. The Shuttle Buddy motored him like a mo-ped. For awhile it sounded like a lawn mower was following me. Unfortunately his Buddy crapped out on him halfway up the first climb on dirt so I never got any details on how it was working for him.
An Intense 951 faster than a 19lb carbon bike???

Onto the trail… conditions were excellent! There were a few wet spots but nothing that would cause trail damage. As always, Turnbull is a fun trail. If you’ve been there, we made our way down the switchbacks to 7th Street. This is a fast descent after the series of switchbacks. From here we climbed up a different set of switchbacks and headed to a singletrack called A-line. If you haven’t been there, below is a video of the downhill sections we rode on Saturday.

On the same day was the first race of the Southridge 2011 Winter Series. As you read SSuper Dan’s race report (the post prior to mine), while I was making my way to Fontana, he was tearing up the course on his singlespeed. Congrats Dan!!!

For 2011 I decided to move to the Sport Class. Registered and ready for practice RL, Wes and I headed up for a run. This would be the first run for RL and I. Prior to riding we walked about halfway down to check out the course. Not too bad, although there were some steep, roll-able sections.
Sport number plate for 2011

Making our way down I was following RL. At some point I wobble at a section where I stopped and we were separated. Now I was making my way down without anyone to follow. I reached a steep section where I should have gone right, instead of left. On the right was much smoother transition; the left were rocks that gapped. Into the drop, I knew I was going over… I hit the ground – lights out! I’ve never felt pain like this before. Immediate pain on my right butt cheek radiating down to my leg. Fortunately there were people there that assisted me. Photographer Tibor Fazekas (www.tibiphoto.com) captured a sequence of my OTB. They stopped practice until I got my bearings. They eventually helped me off the course and EMTs came up to tend on me. Fortunately nothing was broken, just got my bell rang.
Coming into the section. Photo by Tibor Fazekas, www.tibiphoto.com

wadding up with my bike. Photo by Tibor Fazekas, www.tibiphoto.com

Photo by Tibor Fazekas, www.tibiphoto.com

While the EMTs were working on me, they resumed practice and guys started coming down again. A series of guys come down, then one of my friends comes through and does the exact same thing I did but slams his head onto a rock! Result – broken helmet and a couple of gashes on his head. This was not good… The EMTs started working on him to stop the bleeding. We eventually made our way down the course where they loaded us on the shuttle vans and took us to the bottom. I ended up going home, bruised and very sore. Needless to say, no racing the following day. Come to find out that there were a lot of casualties from this race. It was tough all around… 🙁

Shimano Winter Series #3: Kim Finch

We are finished with the third race in the SRC winter series! The weather was cold and wet both Saturday & Sunday. I chose to run the Super D race and the Downhill race this week and let the XC race to Priscilla, David & Eric.

Saturday morning we headed up to the top for some practice on the DH course, Donny has split the course this week and I must say when I saw it from the bottom I was glad that I was not running the course line that I could see from the asphalt road. We ran into Roger from “The Path Bike Shop” he joked as he told me that the the line I saw was for the Super D course. Gotta love Roger & Nancy! I laughed and head up!

First run down I was nervous, top section was pretty sweet with sweeping turns then came up what I called the Water Fall, stumbled through and then hiked right back up and found a sweet line right down the middle. I was pretty comfortable as long as I kept some speed. Then a few turns later and there is was “The Rut”! Wide and deep and on the right hand side of the turn, I was told later to keep my speed up and stay high. But not matter how much I tried, the back wheel was like a RUT Magnet! So I decided at that point that no matter how many times I tried it I would just let the wheel slide in and continue to pedal out of it. That worked on race run! Then I came up on the “Saddle.” OK let’s be honest I never made it up that section! The upper rock garden continued to give me problems and the wet rocks made me extremely nervous! I rolled so slowly through that section even on my race run I could have walked down faster!! HAHA! From this point I found a hard right turn that I LOVED! Tony the “Wizard” called it my Sam Hill corner. The straight away from there that merged with the expert run was slick, by my last practice run (3rd) I found it to be best described as a Slip-N-Slide. The rain made it so slick and I went sliding!!

Super D race was “WET” “COLD” and the wind started to blow! We are all at the top waiting for Donny and begging for the wind to stop. There was talk of snow up there! MoeJoe & JoeJoe were up at the top and they were being very manly! Braving the cold! However, I was huddled behind a rock formation with David’s jacket, trying to stay out of the wind. Of course it was funny because one of the young racers that was there was doing the same thing as I was. Shortly after David thought it was not a bad Idea and joined us. The Super D course was very fun! It took us backwards of the XC course which is the 3 “B”s I like to refer to them as. It’s strange going the opposite direction of a course you climb all the time. I noticed on the start there was a boulder on the trail, I had to ask myself where that came from!

Of course it was there all the time but it just looked so different! I had a blast blazing down the trail. I did find quickly that my brakes didn’t want to work through the first couple turns but I dragged them slightly and they dried out quickly! There was only one other woman racing this one and she was in the Pros. The course really was fun even though it rained the entire time and mud was spiting at me from my own bike!

1st Place Super D

DH race well what can I say! I was cold and nervous. I was still not comfortable with the wet terrain. RL, Moe, Joe & Tony were all at the top chatting and having fun! I did find another rider that was even more nervous then myself & Lala, her name was Tracy. She was so sweet, Lala & I made jokes to try to calm her. Finally start time. Count down…1 I’m off. My top turns are perfect, I hit the “WaterFall” just as I planed it and I was thrilled. Came to “The Rut”and again tire slide into the rut but by now was harder to pedal out of. I hit the saddle, still don’t have enough speed to make it to the top and start down the rock garden, I am toe tapping my way down. I am good over the next little section, and came around the last rock on my right to clear and then FLASH a camera goes off! I almost ran him over! The only reason I didn’t was because he moved since there was no way I was going to change my line! I hit my Sam Hill corner and then off the straight away. I hear David as I go past him! I am almost home! I shoot the rest pretty well and across the road. I hit the “GAS” pedal to head into the lower rock garden! I hit the top, clean, then the middle rock section clean, little bobble but nothing that threw me off line or even made me nervous. Of course it helps that I always vision Joe laying right in my line area from a previous crash! Thanks Joe!

Then one little last rock section to clear….I took the wrong line, I felt my tire slide of the rock and I get bucked. Not off the bike but I remember my hands on the handle bars and my stomach was where my butt should be on the seat! Something clipped my ankle and I could feel pain but the cheer of the crowd that I didn’t crash..or maybe they were disappointed…but either way I headed for the wall! I didn’t stand and pedal it out, but I did mash it while in the saddle to the finish line. There I find Joe High 5ing and Moe who looks a little dazed! We wait and cheer the rest of the riders and team member RL as they cross the finish line!

All in all the Team was once again a huge support and everyone did great!!! Thanks to everyone for their support!

1st place DH

Southridge Race Report Winter Series 2009 XC Race #3

RL Policar: Up and comer SS racer David “Sho-Nuff” Sanderson does it again this weekend and is greatly improving. Read his race report and experience all the joys and pains that he went through this weekend. He did all that just so he would have something to say when his coworkers asked him what he did this weekend…”I raced” David replies (while puffing up his chest). “I raced REALLY HARD”

The sky’s been falling all over So Cal the past few days, dumping several inches of rain leading up to Saturday’s race and causing me doubts about the race conditions. Friday night it rained so hard that I thought to myself, that if it’s raining like this in the morning, I’m not racing! Fortunately I awoke to a light sprinkle, loaded up the bike and made my way to Fontana. I arrived to find RL and Jeremy already on the scene with the camp already set up, thank you guys! Eric (with a propane heater!), Moe, Priscilla, Kim and Tony soon follow.

I registered early enough to take a warm-up lap of the wet Southridge course. The soil in Southridge does well in the rain washing away the loose sandy top layer with minimal puddling. This provides excellent traction; in fact the traction was so good it felt as if I was running a harder gear ratio! This mixed with the extra cold air was sure to put what endurance I have to the test.

I arrive to the starting line to find a few unfamiliar faces with very large legs ready to race single-speed this week. Seems a few more serious cyclists are coming out of hibernation and preparing for their upcoming season. Christmas comes early as Donny informs us that were only running two laps this week (approx. 12 miles).

Donny counts down and we bolt from the starting line, I don’t know if I’m just properly warmed up, hoping to finish early or just getting faster, but I muster up a decent start. I’m too polite around the first turn and fall back several positions as I stick to the outside line. I manage to stay near the leaders through the early climbs as we make our way to the water tower climb. Here I fall back from the thunder thighs in the group and settle into my personal hell slowly grinding my way up. I manage to do a bit better than last week and can still see the leaders near the top.

I’ve pushed too hard through this climb and my legs are burning bad. I’m breathing deep and the bitter cold air is biting in my lungs as my heart pounds out a rapid beat. I snake my way though some the short single track before ascending some of the brutal short and steep climbs that take us to the course peak. I’m nearly done, using everything I got to grind out this climb and debating walking, It’s here one of my fellow racers starts cheering me on, “You can make it! Just a lil more”! What a great guy! This is a thousand times better than the “Passing on the left!” that I was expecting, and is enough to convince me to push, if for nothing more than to avoid slowing him down. I don’t know his name, but I know the bike and I’m gonna make sure to thank him before the next race.

My favorite part of the course is here with the rolling single track equipped with several little berms. I rail through these as quick as I can remind myself of my mental notes from the warm-up lap. Some of the ruts have grown in size and one corner has eroded enough to present some dangerous exposure if you were to let your front tire run the corner too wide. I reach for my now missing water bottle and freak out! S&!^, I’ve got no water! Thank goodness it’s anything but hot today and I know I’ll get another bottle on the next lap. I take advantage of some of the lines I learned the preceding weekend riding with Priscilla and RL. I now know I don’t have to brake at all as I cross the first concrete channel, I can bunny hop out of the second channel and finally take the dirt alternate route instead of riding down the last concrete channel. On one of the last sections a spectator is yelling at me for ruining her photo of her friend who is behind me. I didn’t know I was supposed to let people pass me to make their photos look better. Her boyfriend is looking at her like he is in serious debate as to if he should continue to date her and I couldn’t agree more. I round my way be to the starting straight for lap two.

RL is holding GU but no water! He might as well be holding a plate of bacon at this point because the only thing I want in this world at the moment is water. He quickly grabs a bottle and gets it to me just in time. I try to resist the urge to immediately chug the whole bottle in an effort to avoid a stomach cramp.

I’ve noticed I really have two different mindsets when I race. One that is really focused and intense. The other is really loose and relaxed thinking of anything other than the race in order to help me ignore the burning in my legs. I spend most of lap two in this state thinking about what I’m gonna eat after this weekend and debating giving 4X racing a try. I stay in this state until my favorite single track section where I always smile as I snake my way around. I discover today that this right here, is why I mountain bike, to flow around and have fun. I’m dogging it, riding at my regular trail pace when I hear the team cheering from the finish line. I muster up what I’ve got left and pick up the pace for the final few turns and a race time of 1:04:46 and yet another third place finish. The Animal, Eric Hunner has 2nd with a time of 1:00:59 and winner Rod Leveque gets in under an hour (sorry I don’t remember his time, but the results should be on the SRC website shortly).

We head back to the team camp and I proceed to eat more carne asada than anyone has a right too. It’s amazing what a race does to my appetite! Thank you RL, no one can cook on an old portable propane grill like you can!

Also a quick thanks to the team sponsors Evomo, Hoss MTB and Ergon whose gear helps us get through our races and trail-rides.

Other updates –

I get some more good news! The better than good, rather great people at KHS have provided mtnbikeriders.com with a demo Lucky 7 that I’ll get to ride in the next Southridge DH race! This is a bike on my short list of possible upcoming purchases and now I’ll get to swing a leg over it and tell you what its like to fall in love all over again.

Shimano Winter Series # 2 David “Sho-Nuff” Sanderson

RL Policar-The Shimano Winter Series are 6 races that occurs every other week until March. So that means things happen very quickly and we never really get that much time to train, eat, write, sleep and poop. Which brings me to this next race report written by David “Sho-Nuff” Sanderson. Though David’s race was last weekend and the next race is this coming weekend, the dude is pretty reliable. If he says he’s going to do something, he’ll do it. So I better stop talking and let Sho-Nuff tell his story.


Southridge Winter Series Race Report 2

Almost everything is easier the second time around, racing included. For the second race of the Southridge Winter Series I was much better prepared. I arrived and prepped early enough to manage a half lap warm-up with the Animal who was kind enough to share tips with me on where and when to conserve energy during the race to ensure a successful finish. After riding about half a lap, Eric and I returned to the starting line at 9:30 sharp. Unfortunately things don’t always go as planned and due to delays, we end up waiting long enough for me to stop sweating before the start of the race.

I line up on the outside of the first row and await the call from Donny and Crew. Eric and a few others explode off the line. If The Animal is a grenade, my start is more a fire cracker but it’s still more substantial than last race. I’m running about 7th in the pack and I manage my goal of being able to see Eric as we get near the top of the water tower climb and the pack spreads as we enter the singletrack.

As I work my way through the single track I’m handed a gift as the rider in front of me moves to the side graciously lets me by, I don’t know if he’s blown-up or thinks I’m faster and I don’t ask.

I come up on two race course markers, one white and one yellow with arrows pointing in different directions. I should know which one to follow but up to now I’ve not paid attention as I never faced this situation and I chose wrong. As I descend I hear a course marshall yell that I’ve gone the wrong way. I brake hard, nearly go OTB and come to an ugly stop, followed by some remarks too ugly for this article I run up the hill and continue on my way. I’ve lost about forty-five seconds.

I’m managing my race pace much better today. Extra training (group rides with friends) at a harder pace is really paying off, until I meet the new section of the course. Donny and Crew have roto-tilled a new up-hill section complete with switchbacks in order to gain back about a mile and a half of last years course. This new section is filled with soft, moist dirt and I just can’t keep it together. I slide off the soft new line and begin to run up this section. I look back and I’m glad to see I’m not the only struggling through this mush, but I don’t know what those ahead of me were able to do. I remount and quickly remember the single track and concrete channel to come.

The new section has added a fair amount of flat trail back to the course which brings both blessed recovery between climbs and a new set of problems. My 32/18 gearing is great for climbing but not so great on the flat. I guess it doesn’t matter much anyways since I’ve only got enough gas in the tank to make the water tower climb three times with this gearing anyways. Out on the back straight I eat one of the gels in my pocket and hammer on.

I’m pleasantly surprised by the trail maintenance that has been done since the last race and the improvements in the rocky descent where I lost my bike in the last race. As I round back through the starting straight I see The Moe with his arms extended declaring touchdown with water and gel. I yell out that lap three I’ll need water as I’ve already consumed one of the two bottles I’m carrying (I make a note to only carry one bottle at a time in the future!). I sloppily toss my empty about forty feet from Moe (Sorry Moe!).

I make good progress to the water tower and as I climb I hear an unfamiliar occasional click from my bike but march on. I round through the single track and new soft section and the occasional click is now singing tenor in my ears. I look down at my now wobbly chain ring and fear the worst. Since I’m heading down hill I ease off the gas and let my momentum carry me while I hash out my plan. I pull to the side of the course find a horrifying sight! Two of my chain rings bolts have gone astray! I’ve never longed for a dollar’s worth of parts so badly in my life! I pull out my multi-tool and begin the patch job of placing my two remaining bolts across from each other, tightened as hard as I can. I’ve lost another minute! Looking down now at my significantly less wobbly chain ring, the clicking noise has subdued to occasional status. I’m riding fast but extra careful to spin and not hammer my fragile drive train.

I round the starting start and manage a decent hand off with Moe. I even toss my empty by him this time and proceed to lap three. You ever try to smoothly spin a hard climb on a single speed? It seems hard but really isn’t so bad. In fact I think it would be a great workout to add to my routine. Unfortunately, I’m racing at the moment but manage to keep it together all the way to the top. I’m confident in my drive train now as everything that follows is cake compared to this climb.

I manage to yell out encouragement to Kim as we cross each other on opposing single tracks. I even get to yell at Joe whose decided to enter XC along with SuperD this weekend. It’s really great to see my friends/teammates on the course and gives me just a lil’ bit more gas heading into the final portion of lap three. I see Priscilla as I near the descent in the concrete waterway to the lower level. I yell out “GO, GO, GO!” to which she smiles politely. I’m sure she said something too, but all I hear is wind noise and adrenaline at this point! The finish is near!

I finish with a race time of 1:41:45 and in third again. I don’t know where I’m going to find the ten minutes I need to lose to become really competitive in this class, but hopefully a few of them can be found in the hills of Turnbull Canyon and the XC smoothness of the Fullerton Loop because that’s where I’ve been this week. I’ll also make sure to tighten every bolt before my next race too!

-News and Equipment Blurbs

Due to the performance of the Pittsburgh Steelers, I will be racing DH in an upcoming Fontana Race! I’m not a Cardinals fan, but felt like making a bet with the Wizard, Tony Finch. Tony was rooting for Pittsburgh and agreed that if they lost, he’d enter a XC race with my corollary being a DH race.

In an effort to reduce my racing weight I purchased a Topeak saddle bag along with a couple water bottles and cages. This allowed me to race with a hydration pack which reduced my weight a couple pounds. The biggest benefit though was losing the hot spot on my back allowing my body to run just a lil cooler over the long haul. In my saddle bag I carry a tube, CO2 and a multi-tool. I’ve seen people do without the saddlebag and carry these items in their jersey pockets or duct taped to their seat posts! The point is, if you’re looking to reduce weight, don’t just look at the bike, look at the guy/gal on the bike too!

Southridge Winter Series Race Report: Kim Finch

RL Policar-Kim Finch is one of our most talented racers on the team. She’s was the Triple Crown Champ for XC and also won a number of Championships for 2008 at Southridge. With that in mind, I present to you Kim Finch’s race report.

Well, a fresh new season has begun with the Fontana Winter Series! This season appears to start off with as much fun and excitement as last season ended. I always love riding in Southridge’s races because it is always challenging and the people such as Donny & his crew are fantastic!
Well, this year I am trying to string all three races together but for this first race I went with the XC race and my first downhill race. The wind was the MAJOR challenge for the XC race. The course was cut short for this race as Donny was still working out permits which he will have resolved next race. So thinking I would get a break on a short course and can then try my hand at DH practice I heard the announcement “2 LAPS”! Man I really didn’t want to hear that as that front section has majority of the climbs and now I had to do it twice?

Well, hanging out at the start line is always fun to chat with those around you as it helps me stay calm. Always answer questions about my “Ellsworth PINK Truth”and all the PINK I can handle! The wind was cold and I wanted to just get moving! Then before long Donny is counting down, and were all off in a large group! The first turn up my fellow riding gets cut off and down she goes..I swerve and cut around the two downed riders give a quick yell then kept going. The course was much nicer due to all rain we had which in itself was fantastic except for the wind! I made it through the first lap with no problems. RL was there with my water & Priscilla was there cheering me on. When it came to the second lap I noticed how much traffic the course had. At one point Eric “The Animal” Hunner passed me only to yell back and tell me to come on, while waiving his “GUNS” forward for me to catch him. The single track sections had been really cleaned up by Donny and his crew which made them that much more exciting to see if I could go faster. I finished my 2nd lap to see Priscilla cheering me along! I took 2nd place

Off one bike and then onto my Ellsworth Moment to try my hand at the downhill course for practice. Wow, now there are two different rides! Tony was at the top to meet me & help guide me through my first attempt. The wind at the top was brutal. I made it through the first few turns and even the little rock droppers then a left turn that lead into a dropper/roller that had an off camber right turn…well let’s say Kim did not make the turn very graceful.

As a matter of fact I rolled down the hill further then my bike did! Got up dusted off listened to Tony’s pointers on that turn and headed for the bottom. Now the lower rock garden…well first try..NOPE..second practice run YES!! I was so excited I made it without killing myself. This section always scared me even as a spectator. My second practice I decided that the turn was not going to get me..but the funny thing was two turns earlier I didn’t lean right or the wind got me off line and over I went!! Pride and dust really nothing more.

Race Day: Hanging out up at the top with RL, Tony, Moe & Joe seemed like forever. We chatted with all those we knew and we talked about the course. I personally got tips from Tony as well as John Seacor who races against Tony in their category. They both told me to find the line which would be grooved due to all the prior racers and stick to it! This was very helpful for me as I was a ball of nerves by this time. I talked to myself and thought of different rides I had done and how points on this course was just like riding the trails! This also was a huge help for me. I made it through the whole course and the lower rock garden without a crash. I got to the famous “WALL” used my Gravidity Dropper to pop my seat up and peddled like a mad woman right into the head wind!! I pulled 2nd place! I was thrilled!
I want to thank to the whole team for all the support and the food we shared on Saturday! The whole team did an awesome job! Next race I will join up with Joe & Moe for the Super D race as well!
C-ya at the races

The Newbie, Race Report and Tips for New Racers

RL Policar-“Here’s a race report from our newest team member, David Sanderson.”

I nervously await the start, wishing I had done so many things differently, but I know I did at least one thing right, and that was enter my first bike race ever…but I’m getting ahead of myself, lets start at the beginning.

The past 4 weeks of my life have been an amazing whirlwind, I’ve gone from a guy who lives in Fullerton and rides the Fullerton Loop by himself, to befriending a great group of people here on MtnBikeRiders.com. It all started with a simple email, something along the lines of “Hey, when are you guys gonna ride the loop?” and now four weeks later, I can say I have a new group of riding buddies and friendships developing that I’m sure will transcend mountain biking. My decision to race was just as nonchalant as could be. RL-“Hey Dave, you ride pretty good, want to race?” David-“Sure”.

I recently bought a Redline Monocog and have been hooked on Single Speed ever since. If you want to increase your climbing strength (no gears), improve your line selection (without suspension, you’ll be more judicious) and sharpen your skills (amazing feedback), get a rigid single speed, I can think of no better (inexpensive) training tool, and it’s so much fun! It feels like a big BMX bike! It’s the only bike I’ve ridden on the Loop since! So that’s the category I decided to enter, Men’s Single Speed 34 & Under.

Back to the starting line, admittedly I’m a lil nervous with this being my first bike race ever, but more excited than anything else. Most of the pressure I put on myself is my own desire to do well. Not helping my chances were the fact that most of the other riders in my class were wearing full spandex from several local bike shops, riding significantly more expensive bikes and were not wearing hydration packs, all signs of the dedicated mountain bike racer. Fortunately team support is close by in the form of Eric “The Animal” Hunner, who last minute made it out, got registered and got to the starting line cold, no warm up for “The Animal”. He has the ability to just sign the dotted line and drop the hammer.

With a yell by the one and only Donny Jackson (the man very much responsible for the race series with support from Shimano & Subaru), we’re off. I’m trailing badly at the start; I quickly learn that you should do a proper warm-up before racing (Tip One)! I’m smart enough from past sporting experience to not blow everything I got all at once and to save myself, for this is going to be a long race. Besides, I know Eric is upfront and battling for the lead, the team will look good as long as I don’t DNF!

My energy conservation strategy pays off in the form of picking off three riders as we make the long climb up the road to the water tower (Tip Two, never let your heart rate climb above what you can maintain climbing, its very difficult to slow it back down to something acceptable while climbing). We top the climb and now we’re in my strength, single-track! Its here I’m able to make up the ground on one more rider. I wait until there is a little extra space on the trail and squeeze by.

At this point I’m pretty much alone, I’ve dropped the guys that I’m quicker than, and those quicker than me are out of my site. Now my legs are waking up and I’m really starting to enjoy the ride, just like my normal fun ride the previous week with Priscilla, just at a quicker pace (Tip 3 Pre-ride the course if you can). About thirty minutes in and lap one is over. RL and Priscilla are cheering me on, taking some pictures and RL is handing out some much needed GU. I quickly learn the value of what is known as “race support” (Tip 4 If you’re like me, you’ll peter out of glycogen somewhere between thirty minutes and an hour, get some form of easy to digest energy into your body, before you hit the wall!).

Beginning lap two and my legs are really starting to wake up and are ready to work, I’m in my groove and even make another pass on the climb to the water tower. Told you I had a bad start! I’m beginning to encounter traffic from behind now. It’s the top sport riders who started after us single speeders, they’ve made up the ground and I have to concede and let them by.

I’m ticked now! The sport rider who I graciously let by is now slowing me down in my single-track section! I’m waiting for my opportunity to pass back and it comes soon as he goes down in one of the trickier sections, its here I notice he’s listening to an IPod while racing. I’m fine with that but if you do, have the volume low enough so that you can hear someone yelling “passing on the left!”

I’m trying too hard to be quick in a slow part of the course. A sharp downhill left turn followed by a sharp right that heads uphill. As I turn left I’ve got my weight back as if I’m going down a steep hill. This is fine in a straight line, but here I pay the price as my front tire does not have enough weight on it and washes out. No real damage other than a couple scrapes and having to let three sport riders pass before I remount.

About half-way through the second lap and my hands are beginning to cramp, particularly my ring fingers. I tend to brake with either my index or index and middle fingers so they get to rest while the ring finger carries the load.

As I near the end of lap two I feel my calves beginning to give warning sings of impending cramps. They burn and tighten up like a seized engine. I clean up my pedal strokes and move back in the saddle to give them a stretch and rest. I try to eat an energy block to replace what my body has lost only to drop it in the dirt. I also realize that I’m not in race shape. (Tip 5 Prepare for your race by riding at your race pace for the length of time you anticipate your race lasting. You can look up previous winning times for Southridge here http://www.southridgeusa.com/index.php .)

I come around for the beginning of lap three and RL and Priscilla are still there cheering me on. It hits me like a ton of bricks when I realize the RL is not holding GU! I don’t know why but I keep this info to myself, instead of screaming for GU like a hungry infant. Really things are going well. I’m in a good mood, had no delusions of a podium finish and was just riding for fun. I smile as I ride by and pop an exhausted excuse for a wheelie for the guys. A few big gulps of water and onto lap three.

It’s the water tower climb again! I’m digging in as hard as I can and the head wind has definitely picked up. I grind out about half of the climb and realize I’d be quicker in low gear (single speed bikes actually have two gears)! I hop out of the saddle and try to run but my calves remind me of the dues I’ve not paid and proceed to walk fast. Again, I’m not in race shape! I top the climb and its back in the saddle again. The fun single track is all too short and now I’m riding in the flat getting set to attack the last half a lap when it happens. A bike passes me, not that big a deal; sport riders have been catching and passing for quite some time now. Until I realize he has no derailleur! He’s in the same category as me! I dig deep and push hard, but my tank is empty as I watch him pull away.

I come around the last lil’ climb and proceed to the mini rock garden that’s been giving people fits all day. I take my “secret” line off to the right of the main line and quickly discover that my line isn’t a secret and is now completely rutted. My front wheel digs in and I’m heading down quick. I manage to unclip, hop over the bars and run out my momentum as the bike flips end over end. Spectators call out “Are you okay?”, and I think “No, I can’t catch the guy who passed me!”, but I don’t think this is what they were referring to though so I reply “Yeah!”

I’m trying to be quick through the final section which consists of flat turns, I hate flat turns! I’ve tried early, middle and late apex turns to no avail. I’m just slow here! I make a mental note to practice flat turns at home.

I’m dead tired, cramping, hungry and nearly out of water when I hear RL on a megaphone! “You can do it David, let’s go!” I can’t help but smile as I spin out the last 50 yards. Its all smiles at the end, I can’t believe how much fun that was. I really enjoy pushing myself and finding my limits. I did that today. I found the strengths and weaknesses in my riding and am satisfied with my non-podium finish. I mull around for a bit to recover before I head over to check out DH practice, I even get to glimpse Joe and The Moe racing Super D.

Funny story, Joe passes by and keeps on the gas, he is racing after all. Moe, who is in a sprint race with two others at the time, looks over at me and say’s hello. I’m laughing now and wondering if Moe is too nice or just that damn good! A lil while later, RL calls me “Hey David, the results are posted, come check it out”. I’m shocked to see my name in third place, that guy that passed me must’ve been in a different category! Race time is an hour and thirty six minutes, ten minutes behind Eric “The Animal” Hunner. I’m psyched, I podiumed my first race out, in an open class filled with sport and expert riders. I also quickly deduce that Eric is approximately ten percent faster than I am today. (Note: Eric was slowed down by a stomach flu he overcame only a day earlier!)

Racing was an awesome experience! I’m absolutely hooked and intend to “train” so that my times will improve. I know most racers were like me and slowed by our behavior over the holiday season, but it’s a New Year and time to get in gear. My biggest regret about racing is not doing this sooner! If you enjoy pushing yourself and finding your limits, then racing is for you!

Southridge Winter Series #1: RL’s DH Race Report

After Saturday’s XC and Super D races, Moe, Kim, Tony, Joe and I did some DH practice to get some feel of what the course will be for the race. After a few sessions up on the mountain, we called it a day. Sunday morning came and the 5 of us went up the hill again to get even more familiar on what laid ahead.

The races started at 10:30am, but that doesn’t mean all of us had to get on the shuttle at that time. The seed list stated that our race would be 2.5-3 hours after the start. So that meant that I would be racing around 1:30pm. But around 11:30 am, one of the racers came over to our camp to let us know that it was the last call for the shuttle. We gathered all of our gear and headed over to the shuttle area. Then we were trucked up to the top and as I looked around, you can see that everyone seemed nervous.

Though Kim Finch has done a DH race before, this was her first time racing at Fontana. Moe was also a DH race virgin and anxiety was written on his face. Joe seemed pretty cool and gathered. Not that I have all this race experience. But my memory served me well since everything about this race reminded me of the last race, so in a way, things seemed very familiar.

As we get up to the top, the wind is kicking super hard. I would take a guess of 30-50mph…but I’m no Meteorologist so don’t take my word for it. We wait as they call off each group. First up was Tony since he’s in sport, then it was Moe and Joe after them was Kim and then yours truly. I happen to be the LAST racer on the course, well except this one dude that missed the shuttle so he had to do his run after, but he was some sort of Expert racer.

Anyhow, my only competition in the 200 Club (that’s for the big boys) was Johnny D. If you remember, in the last Southridge Race, he was the rider that beat Joe Solancho out of 3rd place. I actually had to gain some weight in order for me to qualify for this category. The holidays made it way easy to do so…

Since I was last, I watched Johnny meander through the first few S turns of the course, I was also counting down to see if he could make it to a certain point before Mr. Jackson (event organizer) told me to go. Basically if Johnny could make it to a drop in course before Mr. J counted me down from 5,4,3,2,1, then that means he was going slow enough for me to catch him. But Johnny was fast that day…he drop in before Mr. J counted me down. So that meant I had my work cut out for me.

As I heard Mr. J say “1”, then all things went silent. My eyes were glued to the trail ahead of me and all I heard was my breathing and the occasional gust of wind that would nicely cool my body down.

Section after section, I pinned it. There were a few places in which I didn’t do well in during my practice runs. But during my race run, I was dialed in. I didn’t have any problems, until I approached the lower rock garden. I saw another racer named Lala from Incycle and I kindly told her that I was coming behind her and she gladly obliged and let me pass. I make the left turn before the garden, and mentally prepped myself to go high and left on the rocks. In practice, this section would be the trickiest, but was manageable. But on the race, this will be the thorn on my side. As I go high on rocks, I miscalculated and went above my line, causing me to hit a baby head which then bounced me to my right and I slammed into a big boulder. Hitting my head and knee all at the same time.

It took me a good second to realize what had just happened, and if it wasn’t for the yelling and screaming of the spectators saying “C’mon man, you’re ok, go go go!” then I probably wouldn’t have gotten up so fast. As I start to clear the last part of the garden I began hearing my wife and kids cheering me on, man what a great feeling to hear their sweet voices. I was so happy to hear them that I happily said, “Hi Girls!”

The “crash”

The “wall” is where you can earn some crucial time, its a flat sprint to the finish. But what was terrible about it was the head wind. However, for about 20 seconds of my sprint along the wall, the wind stopped…ya I’m giving credit to that one to my main man, God. I started seeing the finish line then the wind blew really hard. Not strong enough to slow me down, but it was a welcomed wind that cooled me as I rolled through the finish line.

We then met up at base camp exchanging stories of our runs, then Moe ran over to see the results and came back with great news. Both of the Fabulous Finch placed, Kim was 2nd in her cat, Tony 3rd in his cat and surprisingly I came in first. I really didn’t think I would take 1st since I had such a bad crash. I was checking the video footage and I had lost about 8 seconds during that crash. But somehow I still managed to do well enough to put in a 10 second deficit against my formidable opponent, Johnny D.


The Family

This was my second DH race ever and funny thing was I was racing with an inexpensive AM bike, the Ibex Ignition 3…yeah its got mad travel of 4 inches in the rear…But I would like to thank our sponsors, Ergon Grips, Evomo, Hoss MTB and BikeCommuters.com. I would also like to thank Johnny D. for his mad skills at the race. He inadvertently helped ride better that day since my goal was to catch him during my run. Though I never saw him until the finish line, it was a great time to race against him.
Talking to Johnny after the race.

The Animal: Up Close

For those that have been fortunate enough to meet single speed phenom, Eric “The Animal” Hunner, they will tell you that Eric is one gigantor of a man. He literally out weighs his competition anywhere from 50-100lbs. To give you an idea on how big he is, check out the following photos.

Look at the people on the left side of the photos…tiny compared to the hulking Animal.

That’s all MAN right there…

Here’s another perspective, the dude is all muscle if you haven’t figured it out yet.

Did you guys get your tickets? The tickets to the GUN SHOW!!!

Though he may be huge, he’s a great guy, very friendly and a big teddy bear when his little daughter, Dana is around. So don’t be intimidated to shake hands with him if you meet him, but I warn you, you’ll feel really tiny when you’re next to him.