Friday, August 1, 2008

Powder Monkey recap

I love the course that the COGGS crew have created in Duluth. It's tough. It's tiring. And it's beautiful. The terrain varies from rocks to roots to large patches of slick-rock. Then you're tossed out onto the ski hill for a split second before heading back into the woods where you'll encounter boulders, downed trees, log bridges, some wicked descents and some tight twisty trails.

My weekend started with our arrival in Duluth on Saturday. Due to weddings, there was no pre-riding on the race course, so I headed up to Piedmont where some new trail had been added. I was especially excited to ride the new trail as it covered some terrain that I grew up riding on my Bridgestone MB-1 way back in '91/'92. The Piedmont trail system was just like I imagined - the race course with grand vistas. The trail has several angles of attacks and offers terrain for every skill level. Parts of the course wander out of the woods and make you stop and pause so as to take in the wonderful views. At least twice I stopped and looked around for about 5 minutes as I overlooked the Bay and Lake Superior, or the neighborhoods just below my feet, or Enger Tower just to my left. It was spectacular.
In total I think the trails amount to about 11 miles of riding. I rode almost all of what was available was very impressed. The maps are good at guiding you around and the names of the trails are pretty cool too - Scarface, for example.

Sunday rolls around and we head to the race. David was racing the Sport race so we made sure to see him off. The weather was clear, warm and sunny. The course seemed to be similar to previous races, but with a small amount of single-track added. David was rockin' the single-speed and helmet cam (very cool!) and seemed to be having a good time.

After his race Dan showed up and we readied ourselves for the race. We rode the first climb and some early single-track, then hit the road and sprinted a bit. When we arrived at the start, it was already packed (not cool). We hit the group about midpack and waited for the start.

We were off and running. I managed to make some passes right out of the gates and across the hill. Instead of going all the way across the hill again and then up, we went across half-way and then went straight up the rest of the way. As usual there was a bottle-neck at the single-track entrance. So much in fact that I think people had a foot down while they waited.

I made a choice and got "out of line" and filled a gap entering the single-track. I got lots of negative responses for this but kept going regardless. Again the Cannondale is such a fabulous ride in the technical stuff. It's so light and responsive that I can make just the smallest of weight shifts or slightest amount of input and change direction or correct for a poor line choice. Amazing.

We rocked the single-track and my brake was howling as usual. I passed a couple riders as they put a foot down or crashed. I managed to close a couple gaps when needed and felt rock solid in the woods. Probably the most challenging part of the course is a part where we drop in to a dried up creek bed which is rocky and has a steep entrance. I managed to navigate that with great ease this year, thanks to Avid's Juicy brakes - wow. Such response and control. Fabulous.
We made our way to the bottom via some new trail and a couple reroutes. On our way back up we hit a trail that was full of rocks, roots and steep climbing. On the way up I managed to stay on the bike while others were walking. Normally this is cool. Unless one of those guys walking decides to heckle you and not give way. After a couple minutes of conversation regarding me "...being an asshole.." lap 1 is complete.

The 2nd lap is an abbreviated version of the first. Initially I was bummed to hear this, but now at the start of lap 2, I was happy. I could feel myself getting tired as I hit the single-track at the top of the hill. I set my sights on a rider in front of me and tried to catch up. I yo-yo'd a bit and eventually rode with him for a bit. Then we hit the part where we bypass the lower portion of the lap. We're almost done and ride a dirt road for about .5 or so before hitting the woods again near the finish. The road portion killed me. The last section before the finish hurt and I managed to cross the line in 8th in age, 20th overall.

I was pretty happy with the race. The weather was great, I saw Charlotte cheering for me and managed to not crash on some of the most technical trails in the series. It was kinda hot for our race, but most of all it was fun. COGGS and crew always do a great job of adding trail and they have some really cool t-shirts. I only wish I would have gotten one.

Afterwards, it turns out that Dan bested his streak of 3rd place finishes and grabbed 2nd in his age group!! Nice work Dan.
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4 comments:

  1. You forgot to mention that one of the guys you cut in front of at the singletrack bottleneck was me. I remember thinking "What an asshole!" and then "Hey, that's my own teammate" :) Just kidding. That course totally kicked my butt. I don't think your alleged "butting in" made much of a difference. You rocked a pretty good race. Nice job.

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  2. Trace was giving me a hard time afterwards even! She was like "20th is pretty good...but where would you have been had you waited in line?!"

    Where's the love?

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  3. I hope that the comments you got were only partly serious - A) its a RACE. B) its a local mtb race, and people should maybe get over themselves.
    Thas kind of shit ruins the local cycling scene. Maybe I am just not competetive enough, but aren't we all out there for FUN? If a guy has the legs to get around me and find a hole to get into line on, more power to him. In any races I have ever been in, I try to race for ME, and let people get ahead or drop back as needed. I would say it is just because yourracing COMP, but super-rookie's post a week or so ago made it sound like there was a lot of yelling in Sport too. It usually took a lot of the enjoyment out of a race for me to have people yelling when things got backed up. It's just the nature of competition at any level, I suppose.

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  4. Good point...it does seem that the races have become more "bitchy" lately with people taking it a little too seriously. I can understand the competition aspect of it, but come, lighten up a bit.

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