1. State Championships, Kirkood California

    Went up for the Sierra Cup #4 Mountain Bike Race at Kirkwood Sunday which was the State Championship for Cat 1.

    I was the only person signed up until the last few hours of online registration, at which point a guy from Truckee added his name (doh, almost won!).

    Since Kirkwood is at 7800 feet, I figured I would have a tough time against him since he lives at altitude.

    On the start line, I saw the guy and recognized him from the Peavine race where he dominated, so I figured I was racing for second.

    A guy named Ray also signed up “day of”, and he beat me at Peavine that day too, but I usually can get him, so maybe I won’t do the podium/DFL combo again!

    On the first long climb to 8,200 feet, “Truckee” is way up with the group of younger Cat 1’s and I bid him farewell and battled with Ray and another guy at the back of the group.

    By the top, Ray and the other guy had fallen back and I figure I’m in second (not 100% sure there are no other 50+ riders who did “day of” registration).

    Half way through the first of four laps, there is Truckee walking his bike! I figure I am probably in first now and with Truckee having a LONG walk, could likely pull off the win and get the much coveted (by me anyway!) State Championship jersey.

    The course was really hard with a lot of technical sections, some of which I could ride some of the time, but a couple I never cleaned. I heard a helicopter on my second lap, apparently they had to air lift an injured rider to the hospital. I was just trying to stay upright and survive, but was pretty sloppy on some tricky bits. I crashed a couple of times but managed to stay on my feet while my bike fell from beneath me. This course had everything, a tough, loose rocky creek crossing, rocky/power climbs, many sketchy corners of moon dust , a 2’ drop,  sharp rock/moon dust combination descents (not a personal favorite!) and enough sharp edged rocks to threaten your tougher tires.

    On the forth lap, I got through every tough section thinking, good, won’t have to survive part that again, then on a rocky, moon dust descent, I felt that terrible feeling of a rear wheel flat!

    Damn the race gods, why me! I rode on in denial since there was still some air left in the tire, but soon realized the low tire was no match for the sharp rocks and technical descents. I had about three miles to the finish and I figured Ray was not far behind and maybe Truckee was even coming back. I decided to run the rocky parts and ride where it was smooth, but that part of the course was almost all rocks. I finally gave up and decided to put a tube in the tubeless tire.

    I got the tube in, but my pump was not inflating the tire, grrr, WTF?! I had not used that pump in a long time, and I was cursing not carrying a CO2 inflator. I finally got some air in the tire (all the while looking back to see if Ray was coming) and started installing the wheel on the bike and all of a sudden the tire burst from the rim with the tube bulging out everywhere! By some miracle, the tube didn’t blow up and I re-seated the tire bead and inflated it with less air so it wouldn’t blow the tire off again. So I was back to running the rocky sections where I would surly pinch flat, and riding where the trail was smooth enough. I could not sit down if there was any bump in the trail at all, and rode with all my weight over the front wheel while standing. I finally got to the last section near the parking lot and rolled down a little steep, bumpy downhill to gravel combination that I thought would take out my tire, but it was right at the finish, so I just went.

    When I finished, there was Ray, saying that he flatted, then gave up because it was so hard with the elevation, and I was the lone finisher and state champ!

    So thanks to the race god who smiled on me (but made me pay for it!) and the 25 people who can rip my legs off for not showing up and gifting me the jersey.

    That course was gnarly and the elevation a killer, but neither of those things slowed Daniele, who was way faster than me even with an injured shoulder! Hats off to you dude.

    And in a good case of irony, I won a CO2 inflator in the raffle!

    Earned that PBR!