Jul 30, 2002

(Round 3)

The Beatings Continue
"I was waiting for the awards after the last CA State race at Snow Summit and I looked over at you sitting with your parents and you just shook your head. I thought, he's probably thinking, 'Man, what a sand bagger.'" - Tony Manzella refering to the recent beatings he's been putting on me and the rest of the Expert 25-29 XC class. Actually I wasn't shaking my head so much as I was turning it back and forth like one does after drinking sour milk. I was trying to fight off the dreadful leg cramps brought on by the 30-mile (100-degree) race that we'd just completed (some of us faster than others).

I won't lie. I would like for Tony to bump up to Semi-Pro for the next year and even if he doesn't I sort of understand because that step requires a whole lot more of a commitment than most people are willing to give. And I don't really think he's a sand bagger either. He's a nice guy and admits that his performance in 2001 was not even close to the results he's been posting this year. He attributes his success to long road rides in the winter to build up a good base.

Well, Tony's long winter road rides paid off again last weekend at round three of the Rim Nordic XC Series in Running Springs. The event doubled as Mountain Stage Race, which consisted of a Hill Climb and Dirt Crit on Saturday and a 22-mile XC race on Sunday. Awards were given three-deep in each category for the Stage Race and for just the XC.

1.75 miles can seem like 11 minutes

The night before I took the computer off of my Cannondale Scalpel and what a mistake that was. Posted as only a 1.75-mile climb, I now wish I would have had the computer to help pace myself a little faster because the race was so short. The Pro, Semi-Pro and Experts all started at the same time and the first half-mile was actually flat or downhill, so you can only imagine how bad the dust was. I felt like I was desert again and not because I got a bad start. As the fire road tilted upward I began to make my move passing riders one by one, however as the race progressed the fire road turned into singletrack, making it very difficult to pass on. At one point I looked up and saw three riders that I was gaining on at a fast rate. I thought to myself, "Okay, I'll get these guys just around the next corner, no problem." There was a problem - that being that around the next corner was the finish line. Doh! You see, had I not removed my computer, I would have known that I had little time to waste and would have been able to track my milage. The big surprise was that Paul Freiwald beat Tony Manzella in Exp 25-29. I finished third. Coincidentally, a young Texan by the name of Dana Weber racing Semi-Pro won the overall.

DIRT CRIT (a.k.a. Short Track)
15 minutes plus three laps can seem like eternity

We (the Pro, Semi-Pro, Exp 25-29 & Exp 19-24) sat and waited as Rim Nordic organizers ran all the Beginner, Sport and older Expert class Dirt Crits first. Deteremined to get a better start than I did earlier in the day in the Hill Climb, I got to the starting line early gambling that a good warm-up was less important than a good start. When we finally did start I went out hard and I went out fast, sitting approximately sixth from the front, which Jasen Thorpe was controlling quite nicely I might add. He would slow down the pace in the back section of the course. He later told me that he was accelerating out of the turns to tire everyone out, but I didn't really notice. What I did notice was that I was leading my class and that there was no one directly behind me. We rode Jasen's wheel for a few laps before the guy in front of me started to come off and he did it in a most unfortunate place of the course. For the most part, the course was good, however there were a few spots were it was nearly impossible to pass and as he created a gap between himself and the rest of the field, I ventured around him into the sand trying to close the gap he created. Meanwhile, Jasen's pace was too much for a few others up front and they began to crack and the entire blew wide open. I blew up trying to close the gap, Griffith Vertican, who can normally hang with nearly anyone on a mountain, fell off and guys that weren't even up front at the start began to pull us in. In the end I finished third in class again because Tony went by with Paul on his wheel with about three laps remaining. Tony held on for the class win and the Texan won the overall event with Jasen finishing second.

Traction is always nice, but so is not flatting

You hate to capitalize off of someone else's misfortune, but that's why I run a lot of air in my tires, especially at Rim Nordic. I've been feeling tired and fatigued and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm not up to the pace that Paul and Tony were setting all weekend, so when I passed Paul on the side of the trail, the victim of a flat, half way through the first of three 7-something mile laps - I picked up the pace. Less than a mile earlier I had passed two other guys in my class and had a pretty good ideal that I was in third. I had also caught a glance at Tony up ahead, but not too far, so I knew I was in a good spot to be. The last thing I wanted to do was let Paul fix his flat and then bridge back up to me. So I rode fast and steady, but never saw Tony again. I think he may have been thinking the same thing. As it turns out he finished five minutes ahead of me with a time of 1:46:16 to my 1:51:48. Our times would have put us fourth and seventh in the Semi-Pro class out of 11. Pro racer Garner Vertican had the fastest time of the day with 1:39:something. He took home $75 for his effort.

Stage race results were tallied up and Tony actually would have won the overall if Rim Nordic would have scored it that way. Instead it was scored by class so I took third. Webber, the Texan DNFed the XC race so Jasen took Semi-Pro honors.

For more information about Rim Nordic or the Running Springs trail system visit www.rimnordic.com

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