The Moe and I made our annual trip to Tehachapi, CA for the second leg of the 2010 California Golden State Kenda Downhill Championships. This year it appears that it will only be the two of us as our other teammates were not able to make it. After a 3hr drive from my house we arrive at Woodward West just as practice started. Weather was a cool 60 degrees, quite the opposite from last year. As a matter of fact there is still snow at the mountain just behind the venue.
The Moe armored and ready for practice.
My sled for this race is my new bike an Intense Uzzi. I finished the build late last night, just in time for our trip.
After registration The Moe and I briefly walked the course. We were surprised to see our teammate Wes “GQ” Castro. He was at the top part of the course taking pictures and video.
We had a total of four practice runs. The course is totally different from last year’s – it has rock gardens, berms, table tops, off-camber turns and a ladder. Totally FUN!!! The Moe and Wes walking back to the car after practice.
The Moe and I have a new approach on racing. We will attempt to bring intensity to our game and hope to do well tomorrow. Wish us luck!
Arrived Saturday morning to just some AWESOME weather. Got bikes off loaded, gear up & catch shuttle truck to the top of the hill. I see the same smiling faces and warm welcome we have come to expect from the SRC crew! Now it’s time to see what Donny has put together for us. Start line is at the top of a ramp, well there is a little nerves there but I did it before. Climb up to the top, hold my breathe and we’re off!
First practice run of the day. Little rock garden at top is pretty rough, jagged edges. I can hear my tire hit dead on. Couple “S” turns to a small drop that are a soft. Quick right and sharp left clear the top portion. Then came the real fun nice banking turns which I threw down my “Sam Hill” style, couple table tops I roll over. Another rock garden with nice smooth line. Few more banking turns and head for finish line. Much to my surprise and given speed I launch off what I thought would be a roller little hill! There I am in the “AIR” instant prayers going out to land on both wheels safely! I did it. First practice under my belt and all was safe! Put down couple more runs then ran in to our team member “The MOE” and Joe “J-SIZZLE”! Always nice to see all that show up at the races.
Headed over to the camp ground area to see who all was there and as always all the familiar faces were there. Traci & I chatted for a while and Nancy was there as well! Roger, Nancy’s husband even gave me a few pointers after following me on one of my practice runs. Traci & I head up for some more runs! See is getting faster, if she ever decided to pedal I am going to be in trouble!
After practice, we over headed to hotel for a shower & then out for dinner. Is always fun hangin’ out with friends! We talked about what line to take, how we felt about the course as well as catching up with each other.
Race day: Good (free) breakfast at the hotel with the team and Roy, our little camera bug. Lots of tea, couple of “Sport Legs,” pack up and off we go. Check over the bikes and hit the shuttle truck. Take couple practice runs to see the changes and man was the top loose. Major dust bowl! Manage to get in two practice runs before the call of “Race Runs” by Steve, SRC driver we all love!
Chatted with Traci as her nerves were on the edge and get her to relax. Joe was still talking about the first rock garden..but by the time lineup came he seemed to have set his mind. Tony was very calm which I thinks helps the whole team and Moe stood over things like he was “The Boss”!
Plug in the iPod, Climb up the ramp, Donny starts his count down and I was calm! Was kind of strange most of the time I get anxious but I was very calm almost excited. I told myself to run slowly through the dusty “S” turns at the top and then have fun through the rest! This is what I did on both first and second runs. After first run, and yes I got a little air out of that last jump..landed it to the sound of my cheering teammates!! It was an awesome time of racing and friends! I had so much fun on this course it felt more like a fun ride with friends then a race. My combined times placed me 8 seconds ahead of Traci for first place! YEAH!!
Thanks for all the team support! I want to through a big shout of thanks to Serfas Optics for the sunglasses as I rode my race with shade & clarity! They were awesome glasses! Also big thanks to KHS, Hoss, Evomo, Ergon & Bike Commuters.com. Big hugs and thanks to our own little photo bug ROY!
Approximately 6am Sunday morning we got up to get our day started. We had a full day of racing ahead of us, especially with the Two-Run format. We had a quick breakfast at the hotel where we were joined by Kim & Tony, then repacked my truck with our gear and bikes.
We arrived at Woodward West shortly after 8am and practice had already begun. Practice was for only two hours then they would have to clear the course for the start of the race. The Moe and I suited up and headed to the top via shuttle.
Looking back to my practice runs on Saturday (3 total) I did fairly well. As I described on the previous post, we have to go through two small rock gardens – one at the start and one towards the middle of the course. My problem was the first section… much like my previous races in Fontana, I have the fear of these rocks. During Saturday’s runs, I could not get myself to go over the first section. With the coaching and encouragement from my team mates it didn’t help. What’s strange is the first section is very similar to the second rock garden where I just plowed through the middle…
Back to Sunday… geared and ready to go, off we went on our first run. Approaching the first rock garden I chickened out and stopped just short of it. I walked over it to find my line and hoped to go over it on the next run. The rest of the run went smoothly despite some of the turns and corners being chewed up. Second run the same (as the first)… out of time for practice, I never got myself to go over the first rock garden.
Inspecting the first rock garden.
Overall I was very comfortable with DH course except for that one section. As the race started with the Pros (and the rest of the categories), I watched as they flowed through that section. Obviously the Pros and others with jumping capabilities picked a different line; they jumped over the rocks and made it look so easy. I was trying to convinced myself to just go through it like the others and I’ll be fine.
1st Run: I was 3rd in the seed list and will be following The Moe. Up on the ramp I was ready…just need to get through one section and it’s all gravy. As Donny counted me down, 3,2,1…
View from the top as The Moe starts his run
I rolled down the ladder onto the course. It starts off on a singletrack then up and over a boulder, no problem. As I approached the first rock garden I see an opening on the left side of the garden. Between the rocks and the post holding the tape for the boundaries I shot through this section totally avoiding the garden…whew I made it. No harm no foul, I stayed within the boundaries. I made my way down the S-turns, towards some fast corners with berms. As I approached the table tops, I started scrubbing some speed.
Approaching the table top.
Now I’m not one to jump; like Sea Otter I rolled/pumped through these sections. I’m sure I would have gained more time if I learned how to jump, but for now, this is how I roll 😉
I rolled through the second rock garden successfully but at some point my feet became unclipped. For the next three jumps I was bouncing up and down on my saddle trying to get my feet together! (see 1st part of the video) What the @#$%! This was a terrible feeling not knowing where your pedals are. At the same time unable to pedal and losing some time. I finally got my footing and finished the run. Disappointed as I found a way to get through the one section that hindered my practice runs and something else slowed me down.
During our wait for our 2nd run, they posted our time. I was currently in last place. I had plenty of time to review my last run. Disappointed at the loss of pedals I was determined to do much better than the last. Also now that I knew that I can squeeze by the first rock garden I was much more confident. My goal now was to better my previous time.
2nd Run: At the top of the ladder, I was poised and eager to do my 2nd run. As Donny counted me down I rolled down the ladder and headed towards the first rock garden. Same line as the last, I actually heard someone comment as I passed that it was a good line. With much more confidence I felt good on the course. My feet and pedal stayed together through out my run. At the end I felt good and I was able to better my time.
I finished 5th overall. With my second run, I was able to edge out The Moe. It wasn’t an easy task as he was riding really well that day. I need to go on a “learn how to jump” clinic. I can definitely use it. Check out the video from my helmet cam. I’ve added the segment where I lost my footing.
I also want to send healing vibes to our friend Wes Castro (also in our Class). At the end of his first run we watched him crash at the Finish Line. Approximately 15-20ft before the Finish Line is a jump/kicker; many were launching off this. Wes took this jump; he looked good until his front end started pointing downward… Wes endo’ed and crash at the finish line. Fortunately he was able to get up and walk away from it. As a matter of fact he finished 4th in our Class. Get well and congrats!
I had a great time at Woodward West. Racing is so much better when you are joined by great friends. Many thanks to our sponsors KHS, Hoss, Serfas, Evomo, Ergon and Bike Commuters.com. Also thanks to Roy for taking pictures.
Earlier this morning The Moe, Roy (Moe’s bro) and I headed to Tehachapi for the second segment of the Rock Shox Golden State series. Approximately 2.5 hrs away from Corona we arrived at Woodward West shortly after noon. We saw our teammates Kim and Tony Finch along with many familiar So Cal faces.
The DH course: It starts you off down a ladder drop. It then takes you through a series of S turns and over two small rock gardens. There were quite a few jumps along the way with a table top. It’s a fun course but very short. Looking at my Garmin 305, it was approximately .35 miles. Overall we had three practice runs for the day. Look for a follow-up race report from our team.
After a long day in the Woodward West dust bowl, we checked into our hotel. Relaxed for a little bit and we got ready for diner. We dined at the local watering hole City Slickers. Dinner was great! It was awesome just hanging with the Team, sharing stories and eating good food.