Sunday, July 19, 2009

"I don't think I can hang on anymore!"

That was my thought as I tried to navigate down Third Divide during the XC race. But not to get too far ahead of myself...

Day 0, The Great Trek Northward
A few months back, Allison, Justin, Dan & I were sitting around after some ride (I honestly can't remember which one) when the idea of Downieville came up. A & J were already signed up to race the All-Mountain event (XC and DH). I listened attentively since D'ville is a destination I've been wanting to hit since I moved to the west coast. Never have I heard anybody say anything bad about it!

And then, the Manns mentioned they were bringing a huge RV and there would be room for us if we were interested. Really?! Awesome of them to offer! So, we took them up on it, originally planning to ride the trails and have fun, which morphed into us signing up for XC.

Dan helps get the bikes ready to go

Dan-o and I drove up to the Mann's house on Monday night, arriving just after dinner time. We helped get the RV packed up. A 38' RV with Jeep and 4 bikes on the back = looooooong! Navigating through LA was okay since it was past rush hour...up the Grapevine. By 11, we decided to spend the night at an RV/truck stop.

How do we get there?

La-la at night

The morning saw another several long hours on the road, mostly with Justin at the helm of the boat. Kudos to him for doing 95% of the driving! A stop in Auburn saw us top off with food/supplies (and a huge gas FAIL), and then it was on to the twisty roads of route 49, past Nevada City and Grass Valley. There isn't much out in that part of the Tahoe National Forest. Really.
Somewhere on the Grapevine

Oak and grasses gave way to pines and cedars. The Yuba River came into frequent view. Finally, it felt like we were escaping from SoCal! On through Downieville and to our final destination of Sierra City to the RV camp.

Just follow the signs

Yuba River

After setting up the site, we hopped in the Jeep for a quick spin up the bottom of the XC course. My legs were like lead, and I couldn't catch my breath up the fire road...We turned around after 1.5-2 miles and jaunted out to the Sierra Buttes overlook to catch sunset.

The Buttes

Day 1, XC Recon

After a somewhat restful night, we awoke to bright skies and nice temps. Dan & I trekked down the short path from the RV to the Yuba River...turns out there was an awesome swimming hole right there. After getting a relaxed start, we suited up and drove up to Packer Saddle for our first taste of really good D'ville trails.

Camp M-M had some serious computer action going on

From the saddle, we dropped almost 2 miles down the fireroad (this would be the top of the monster 8 mile climb on the XC course). Hmmm...not too bad. (Of course, we missed the middle section which was steepest). From here we hit Pauley Creek...technical and fast. Third Divide was next...probably my favorite can hit it so fast, and there are some really fun corners and a couple tech sections to keep you honest. The course finishes on First Divide (my least favorite trail). It's flat-ish/ the end of all the descending, it made for a tough end to the ride.
This view never gets old...the Sierra Buttes
The Training Sandbagger
Mossy trunks

Allison gets some right before Baby Heads

Getting some traction and love from the Captains

Headed back to town

My machine
Adam Craig was kind enough to take a photo with us...very nice, down-to-earth guy

Once back to town, we checked out Yuba, ate lunch, and purchased some souveniers (t-shirts, mug). A & J were so awesome...they treated Dan & I to a shuttle ride back up to Packer Saddle as our wedding gift. Thanks so much! Dinner was awesome chicken, corn, salad and beer. Swimming in the Yuba was so cold but so awesome!

The swimming hole at our campground

Day 2, Shuttles

So, A & J wanted to hit the downhill course on Thursday and make sure they had some sections of Butcher dialed. The morning was again warm and sunny as we drove up to the saddle. Once we dropped them off, Dan & I high-tailed it back to town to pick them up. They were lightning-fast and we only had a couple minutes to hang out before they rolled in. We did check out the free wi-fi at the Carriage House :)

Allison rolls into town

Poaching the wi-fi

Dan roams around town

Then, we drove back up to Packer so that Dan & I could go on a ride. We hit up Sunset to Big Boulder to Second Divide. BB was rad...the trail was so fun and scenic. As far as Second Divide...techy challenges and climbs, exposure, steep for sure, but not my fave. I think I dubbed it "SART and Noble have an illegitimate child".

Blue, blue sky

Top of Big Boulder

View from the top of Big Boulder
Dan descends Big Boulder

Dan on First Divide

It was another great day!

Day 3, Rest

After a couple days of hard rides, we knew Friday would be a rest day. We registered in town, worked on bikes and tried to relax as much as possible. Even did a short spin up the road. The stories going around indicated to get to the line early in the morning to get a good spot, since there were only 3 waves of riders going off.

Yes, this is the amount of clothes 4 mt bikers wear in 3 days

Checking up on email, Le Tour and everything else

Race swag

I was pretty concerned about my race...hadn't felt strong all week, mediocre sleep, and coming off lots of steady state riding (i.e. 12 hour race pace) didn't seem to bode well for a massive XC effort. To top it all off, it was my first expert race, and I knew the field would be solid. I tried to get in a good frame of mind, but I was pretty tense going into Saturday.

Gotta shout out for the maple-soy cedar plank grilled salmon!

Day 4, XC!

I'll try to sum this up: hardest race I've ever done. Refer to the title of this blog post. The climb was massive. I hung on but barely. Watched a lot of women pass me. Mentally low. Legs were solid and heavy. Once descending, it was a brake-a-thon...too many riders who refused to yield to someone clearly faster. By Third Divide, my arm pump was so bad I thought my hands would slip off the grips. First Divide was painful. In the end, I missed my goal time by 3 minutes. 3:03. Now I have a new axe to grind.

All things considered, I finished exactly mid-pack: 8th out of 16. This included the all-mountain racers. Got the wrong message about podiums (originally they separated XC and AM results, which put me in 5th. By the time we got back, they changed their minds and combined them, so no podium for they only went 4 deep...WTH?)

Expert women's XC results

Dan once again cemented his Training Sandbagger status...6th out of 103 men in his Sport age group. Amazing!! Justin did pretty well despite cramping pretty badly, and Allison was 6th in pro...stellar!

Vendor area

Definitely earned this one

Mtb legend Thomas Frischnickt scoping out the Pixie-Cross practice

Getting up close with the Sh*tbike
If every hot summer ride could end with a dip in the Yuba, I'd be in heaven!

Hitched a ride on the shuttle back to Sierra City, shower, back to D'ville. Figured out the whole awards shenanigans, drank beer, hung out. Not bad :)

Day 5, Spectatin'

Thunder and lightning! Sufferin' succotash! It was storming out in the early morning hours. Rain cooled things down considerably before the DH. Got A & J up to Packer with plenty of time to warm up (unfortunately the wind kept things cool). Dan & I spectated and took pictures, cheered and heckled. It felt good!

Cloudy & chilly to start the day

Fantastic view

Justin's DH run

Allison on her way to a 57 min run

Adam Craig (1st in XC and DH, new course records)

The Sh*tbike in action!

Dain's DH run

Back down to town to get the Mann show. Allison finished 6th in the DH and overall...Justin went 11th/12th. Very proud of them for all their hard work!

On the way back to the RV, Justin suggested that Dan-o and I ride the DH course for fun. I'll admit, I was reluctant. I dunno why. But, I finally agreed and after a quick change we were back in the Jeep. Butcher was freaking crazy...we sessioned the Waterfall. After a few times not able to clip in, I did the hard line cleanly (though it wan't very smooth...but when am I ever?). We cruised and then picked up the pace a bit, getting to town in under 1:10 ride time. If I do this again, I have to hit the 1:00 flat or less mark.

Sunny skies in the afternoon

Dan on Sunrise

Third Divide after the rock "wall"

We scored some free beer since the New Belgium folks were packing up and waited for our chariot. Dinner, beer, tequila shots and shenanigans rounded out the night as we all celebrated solid performances and no injuries on course.

This is what 3 days at D'ville will do to your bike

Monday saw us driving home (13.5 hours for us), leaving the Mann show behind. It was a truly great week, and I wouldn't have traded anything! Thanks guys, sincerely.


Pedal Circles said...

Great post!

It was for sure a killer week. Would not have been the same without you guys!!

sonrie said...

Hi there...i just answered your comment on Matt/Katie's blog re:your hands. I can send the link if you need it. :)

Stephanie said...

sonrie...I confess that I lost the blog address in my frantic searching the web for what ails me. If you would send me the link that would be FANTASTIC! Thank you so much :)