Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Unpleasantly Lost

Well, the race this past weekend was kind of a bust. First of all, the conference made the boneheaded move of allowing two races to happen in the same weekend, one in NorCal and one in SoCal. This virtually guaranteed that the SoCal race would be nearly abandoned, since all the schools with large teams (Stanford, UC Davis, CP SLO) are in NorCal. Thus, the race had tiny little fields, too small for me to count the results towards a category upgrade (need 5 people in my field, only had 4).

To add to that, it was the first year that SDSU has hosted a race and their inexperience showed. The course markings on the XC course were just plain bad. So bad, were they, that I was told by a race official to go the wrong way about a quarter of the way through the race. I ended up back at the start/finish line ten miles early, scratching my head. I wasn't alone; there were six other riders there with me from various categories. One of the guys putting on the race found out about the misdirection and came and found us, then drove us back onto the course in his pickup. Unfortunately the road was nowhere near as direct as the trail, so this took us over 40 minutes. I rode the rest of the race at my own pace and even ended up getting lost twice more in the race because of the poor course marking, but I only went a little out of my way (rode 22 miles instead of the required 18). Despite all this, I finished 3 out of 4 (one DNF), 29 minutes down on the winner. Remember that 40 minute truck ride back to the course and the extra getting lost? Doesn't matter, though, because the win still wouldn't have counted. It was just frustrating. I still threw my arms up at the finish line in celebration, just because I was so happy to have finally found the end of the blasted course. Rumor has it they invalidated the results, but that doesn't frustrate me any less.

Even if the course were well marked, I wouldn't have enjoyed it too much; over half of it was pavement, and the "singletrack" was actually ATV/moto trail, much closer to doubletrack. There was a little 10ft long rocky technical section, but otherwise it was either pavement or sandy chewed-up moto track. Don't get me wrong, the moto track was still fun with high bermed turns and lots of ramps, but it's still not close to good singletrack.

Even with all that, it was still nice of the SDSU team to put on the race. It is a huge pain to do so, and it was nice to be able to drive 3 hours out east of San Diego instead of the 11 hours up to Chico State. Here's hoping it goes more smoothly next year.

The weekend wasn't a total wash. I half-heartedly "raced" the Super D (crossover XC/DH event, a shuttle ride with some up and down, similar to Downieville but much shorter) to get a free shuttle ride, and one of the SDSU team managed to get a cool picture of me on the way down:

Tech notes: my suspension fork continues to leak at an ever-increasing rate. This last rebuild barely lasted 50 miles. Time for a new fork; it's very high on my Xmas wish list. I'm also switching back to riser bars because the flat bars were just not cutting it on the Super D: the transitions were way too fast to switch between the bar ends and grips. Also, if you aren't used to riding with your saddle lowered, don't lower it right before a race; it will totally throw off your bike handling. I almost ate it several times on the Super D just because I was trying to put my bike in weird positions to get the saddle in the right place on the inside of my thigh.

That's the end of mountain biking season for me; tomorrow the bike goes into the storage unit and I will not see it until at least January. Off to France and when I return, ski season!

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