Sep 20, 2005

U.S. National Mountain Bike Championships: Wednesday - Friday

Country James Williams (story later), Loren Dodson, Sean Donovan & I left for Mammoth from my place about 6 PM on Wednesday. We made it as far as Big Pine, or maybe Independence, before our stomachs needed food. I can’t even remember what I had for dinner, but I do remember that the little 24-hour diner was out of baked potatoes so Sean had ice cream & apple pie for dinner. Oh, and a Sam Adams Light.

We rolled into Mammoth around 12:30 AM. As we were trying to find our condo, Loren spotted another van parked in our complex that he dubbed, “Cooler than my van.” I should have thrown him out immediately, but I was more interested in getting sleep & it was a pretty cool van. The next day Loren tried to make good when he complimented my black steel wheels & said that he wants to get something similar for his truck. Sure Loren. Whatever.

When we woke up later that morning to get James out the door in time for his 8 AM Marathon start, we discovered that our condo was under construction. Actually, it wasn’t our condo. It was this Velo Sport chick’s named Mandy, who James knows. She was kind enough to let us crash on the floor, so when we arrived earlier that morning, we hadn’t turned on the lights in fear of waking the other sleeping patrons. With all of us sleeping on the floor & construction plans written all over the unplastered walls symbolic of graffiti, I felt like we were a bunch of transients squatting an abandoned New York City building, junkie style. We would later find our own condo, although we owe thanks to Mandy, Jimmy, John, Helen & Art for letting us invade their privacy for a short time.

Longo called James up to the line as Country James Williams & so a nickname was born. Personally, I prefer Free Wheelin’ James Williams, but I don’t have the audience that the Lawn Lizard has, so something tells me Country is more willing to stick than Free Wheelin’. Country’s Marathon was going well until he sliced a tire & had to patch it with a gel packet. A second flat sent him back even further & he would have had to abandon had it not been for Manny Prado, who floated Country a tube after the second flat. The determined duo finished the 66-mile Marathon 9th & 10th. Former Olympian Travis Brown won earning what was probably his umpteenth stars & stripes jersey.

My Semi-Pro XC race started at 11 AM on Friday morning & before I give you the race report, let me say this; the course was awesome. The 6 mile loop started with a massive dirt road climb before heading into miles of false flat single-track, more dirt roads, the 7 Bridges trail & ended with a gnarly, rocky descent back to the Canyon Lodge start/finish area. We were slated to complete 4 laps, & after pre-riding the day before, Loren & I predicted each lap would take about 30 minutes at race speed. Our prediction was close & that’s the only prediction we were close on. I silently predicted I’d do well, especially after pre-riding. It was my kind of course & I’ve been riding well. Ha! Not on this day.

This is a fact. The first 5 to 10 minutes of any mountain bike race will have you feeling like you’re going to vomit. Normally that feeling of nausea passes. The suffering never goes away; it just becomes more bearable if all goes as planned, trained & in my case predicted. Like I said before, my predictions were wrong & I felt like I was going to vomit for the entire two-plus hours instead of just the first 5 to 10 minutes. After pulling out of the Snowmass NCS prematurely last year, only to discover that the group I was riding with would later prevail & finish in the top 10, I vowed never to abandon a mountain bike race again. I nearly quit several times, but as I continued, I began to pass other dudes that had cracked. I completed four laps in the 20-something position; a poorer result than last year’s National Championships. Few competitions can support the excuses that lamely follow a poor performance, but I do believe mountain bike racing is a sport that warrants post-race excuses. Take my excuses for instance: I started too fast, went anaerobic right off the bat & my over-trained body refused to recover from its anaerobic state. Good times.

Loren faired better than I, but just barely. Around the half way point he was in 4th, then 9th & then he speared a tree head first & fell back to 23rd. His consolation prize was a badly scraped knee & forearm, but it looked damn cool. Regardless, he should be proud of his ride. Later that day, Sean flatted out of the Pro race when he found a nail in the middle of nowhere. I thought I was the only one who had that kind of luck. It’s happen to me twice in Big Bear. Anyway, flats were a common theme in Mammoth this year due to the sharp rocks on the course.

To be continued… Greg Johnson's middle finger, Froto at Base Camp Cafe, the wholesome goodness of the Pita Pit & Short Track redemption.


I posted a bunch of new photos on Ryder's blog

Congrats to Chris & Cindy Gardner, who tied the knot in Redlands last Friday night.

Congrats to Jeremy & Irene Templeman, who tied the knot in San Jacinto last Saturday night.

Fresh from her runner-up finish at the World 24-Hour Race in Canada, Monique Sawicki also competed in Thursday's Marathon. Monique finished second to Gretchen Reeves, who didn't have 24-hours of racing in her legs less than two weeks prior. Monique is hard core. On Saturday, her & husband Ron hiked Mt. Whitney with old riding buddies Byron Pettibone & Ron Burian.

Missing In Action: Mark Foist

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