Sunday, June 13, 2010

Banner Pits

Despite riding like a rookie, I still enjoyed the day.

I was really looking forward to racing at Banner again this year. The folks of CITA built a sweet little network of very technical trails that make for some pretty tough racing conditions. And to make things even more difficult, the temperature soared into the upper 80’s!
The race started and my goal was to take the hole shot into the woods, however Ryan Nenninger also appeared to have the same idea. I didn’t have any interest in blowin’ my wad at the start of the race, so I let him have it. At the first point where the course split of for beginners, the race organizers forgot to remove the tape blocking off the Cat 1 course. Confusion ensued, and Ryan slowed to roll through the tape. The wire holding the tape in place looked like it had wrapped itself around his drive train and he had to stop. I went by and took over the lead with Nate on my wheel.
Shortly after I took the lead, I heard the sounds of a bike/tree altercation behind me. It sounded like Nate had gotten bested in his clash with a tree. It was way too early to go solo, but for whatever reason, I took off hoping to create a gap and keep it for the duration. I was able to maintain a small gap on Kevin McConnell over the first two laps, despite having one of those days where I was riding with two left hands. I had a really hard time getting my head into the game…not a good course if you’re lacking focus. I took a lot of bad lines, I felt like my front tire was washing out in a lot of the corners, etc.
On lap three, my haphazard handling got the best of me. As I approached a plank bridge that went over a log, my front tire missed the plank and T-boned the log. I went sailing over the bars, quickly picked myself back up and was able to continue on…until I realized that my shifting at the rear end was all over the place. I tried the barrel adjuster with no success, and shortly after that, my chain wedged itself between the cassette and the spokes. I stopped and it took an eternity to pull the chain out. When I finally got the chain rerouted, I hopped back on the bike and the shifting was still screwed up. Rather than risk screwing my drive train up further, I decided to pull the plug. When I got back to the car, a short examination of the rear end revealed that I had a bent rear der hanger. Definitely game over and a rare DNF for the day. Julie had suffered almost the same fate, no crash, however she had gotten her chain so wadded up behind the cassette, that I had to break the chain and pull the cassette off the get it out. So what did we do to commemorate the day? We drank some beer, of the New Glarus Belgian Red variety, with my brother and his wife, who were in town from Florida that night.

Julie on one of the many bikes that she got to demo after wadding up her chain in the rear end of her bike.

The race wasn’t a total loss however. As I was doing a course recon before the race, the beginners were in the middle of their race. I came up on Wendy Herrick as she was slowly picking her way through the techy trails. We came up on one of the trickier, steep descents and she stopped at the top and looked like she was getting ready to dismount and walk it. I rolled up beside her and offered some instruction on how to negotiate the trail. I jumped on my bike and demonstrated what I had told her and then waited at the bottom for her. She thought about it for a couple of seconds, backed up a little and then took the plunge. As soon as she hit the bottom, she let out a scream of excitement as she rolled to stop. The look on her face was of pure excitement and I could tell that she was a little overwhelmed from the rush of adrenaline that she has just experienced. After being thanked several times, I continued on my course recon. I had a really hard time containing the grin that I had on my face for the remainder of the ride. That experience alone made up for the lack of success during the race. Moments like that are why I love hosting the women’s mountain biking clinic every year. It is so much fun watching others experience various aspects of mountain biking for the first time!

Thanks for reading,



Ken said...

Way to make the most! Thanks for the write ups...

Anonymous said...

Great story about Wendy. That's what it's all about, man...


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