Sep 22, 2005

U.S. National Mountain Bike Championships: Saturday & Sunday

The Pita Pit welcomed us with open arms & an open cash regisiter. Photo courtesy of Country Jimmy


After Friday’s horrible performance, I saw no need to take the starting line less than 24 hours later to contest the Single Speed race. What I needed was good rest & single speed racing is to rest as Vin Diesel is to acting. I slept in as long as possible & then road down to the Base Camp Café with Country Jimmy & Loren. It was our second breakfast in as many days at the modest café and Country was its advocate due to the help; a rock climber chick to be more specific. On Friday Country took one look at her and said, “That chick is a climber.” Turns out he was right & they exchanged information about local climbing spots. By listening, I learned that trad means traditional climbing & a Gumby is someone like me, who doesn’t know what he’s doing on the rock.

On Saturday Country was out of luck. The B-team was waiting tables at Base Camp. Our B-teamer was a little Australian guy with a fo-hawk. We named him Frodo & demanded refills of coffee through mental telepathy as if we were Gandalf. Skipping ahead to Sunday morning, Country’s climber chick was back, but I didn’t care because no matter how many times I asked for warm pancake syrup, I was denied. Another favorite eating spot for our stay in Mammoth was the Pita Pit, located in the village. I ate three pitas in the period of two days. I’m currently shaking, sweating & twitching due to pita withdraws.

We finally made it to the venue in time to watch Longo suffer through his XC race with bike issues. Johnny O’Mara was racing at the same time. This year he stuck it to Scott Fifield by 5 minutes, putting a nail in the coffin of that drama. Justice! The highlight of the morning had to be Perry Paolini’s trailside commentary. Actually, it was more like over-enthusiastic cheering for his friends & teammates. Perry didn’t have much of a voice left by the time it was all over, but it inspired us to get a little louder too. Around 2 PM Country, Loren, Jamie Goldstein, a Bicycle John’s chick & I did a spin around the race course just for fun. Until the Short Track occurred, that was the best part of Mammoth: an easy spin with your buddies (and some chick I didn't know).

Just as I was stationing myself at the gangliest piece of downhill single-track to watch Greg Johnson tear it up, Johnson himself rode up & presented me with the finger: A broken finger to be exact. In the crash, he had slammed his head off the ground, but his middle left finger had taken the brunt of the damage. The unlucky southpaw spent the rest of the afternoon in the hospital, but I’ve since talked to him & he’s managed a road ride so he’s healing fast.

Short Track consists of 20 minutes plus 3 laps, so there’s not much to say other than I got 7th place. With a few laps to go I was sitting in 5th trying to bridge up to the four guys ahead of me, but I tried too hard, cracked & let two guys go by. I’ll take 7th, because I don’t consider myself a Short Track racer. Loren crashed the hell out of himself around the second lap & has the cuts & broken handlebar to prove it. Country finished just outside the top ten. For the Pro Short Track we grabbed some well deserved beers & positioned ourselves at the highest point of the course, taking the Perry Paolini approach to cheering. We yelled & screamed at Sean, Amon & everyone else whether we knew them or not. We even got some laughs out of the suffering souls. During my Short Track race, there were some similar characters in the same spot & whenever I came by, my tongue was hanging out. They nicknamed me Hanger, so on each and every lap, they’d screamed, “Go Hanger!” Good times. Other than the drive home, the weekend was over.

Back To Reality

The Tuesday night ride was nothing to blog about. Josh & Chris Hoyt (Carina Home-less) came out. Josh & Jeannie are driving up to Oregon this weekend to watch the Ducks play & Hoyt is moving from Big Bear down to Redlands for the winter. Eric Riser was out spinning around getting ready for Everest Challenge this weekend. Good luck Eric. Country James & Loren were also in town, but didn’t do the ride. They were picking up their friend Sarah at the airport & then went by Jersey’s for dinner. Apparently Mad Cash hooked them up.

Denise’s Great Uncle Bud & Aunt Jerry were visiting from Austin so we went to dinner with them on Wednesday night. Coincidentally I had a Great Uncle Bud too, but he only had one leg. Anyway, since we were going to do dinner in the evening, I got up early & rode Lower Workout. It was in pretty good shape with the exception of some rain ruts. The Fish Creek (I think that’s what it’s called) Santa Ana River crossing was a problem however & I had to wade through ice cold water at 7 AM to get through it. Instead of taking the Wash Trail home, I opted for Hwy 38 in order to get home faster and dry my feet. That evening, dinner was cool. I had never met Bud & Jerry before. Bud is a retired professor from UT & both of them are nationally ranked tennis players in their age division. We’re hoping to visit them in Austin next year.

Random… and a Rant

Speaking of Austin, Loren Dodson is leaving Big Bear to return back to Austin. He’ll probably spend the winter training with Lance or something. Before leaving, he suggested I lay off the ice cream. Not a chance.

Ryder has two bottom teeth coming in! I can’t wait until he bites me.

This is why things don’t get accomplished: There was a Santa Ana River Trail (SART) meeting at the Redlands Airport while we were gone. It was to discuss the completion & continuation of the SART from Mentone to Riverside (which is paved complete from Corona to Newport Beach). They also discussed Rails to Trails, which would take some of the inactive railroad tracks in the Inland Empire & turn them into paved walking, running & bike trails. Many cities & communities in the U.S. have adopted Rails to Trails. It gives kids, families, cyclists, runners, etc. a place to exercise, play & travel without having to worry about traffic. They rip out the railroad tracks (like my hero General Sherman) & lay asphalt down. Here’s where I get pissed (pardon my French, but I’m pissed): A woman, who will remain nameless, suggested that these trails should not be paved & should be dirt so mountain bikers can enjoy them. WHAT THE HELL? Can mountain bikers not ride on pavement too? Talk about being given an inch and wanting to take a mile. It is stupid suggestions like this that prevent projects from getting accomplished. I see this at work all the freaking time. Has this woman considered the cost associated with the upkeep on a dirt trail that will travel through a city? Does she not have miles & miles of single-track SART to ride from Mentone way up into the San Bernardino Mountains? We’re talking about an area that has virtually no federally funded trails of any kind & she wants to gum up the works by suggesting they be dirt. What about the roadies, stroller pushers, BMX kids, skate boarders, recumbent riders & elderly? So, instead of continuing the SART from my backyard to Riverside so EVERYONE can enjoy it, they’ll probably fight over whether it should be dirt or paved for the next five years. Of course I got all my information from the Redlands Daily Facts, so none of this may be accurate, but if it turns out to be true, I will weep for poor Ryder, who won’t get the opportunity to ride his tricycle from Jazz & Java to Redlands Cyclery because some mountain bike woman wouldn’t compromise. People like her prevent the World from harmony

Dodson & I were just happy to be done with Friday's XC race. Photo robbed from Country Jimmy.

Ice wahter & Foosball at the Clock Tower the night before Short Track (okay, we had a drink or two). Photo jacked from Country Jimmy

Country Jimmy, Me & Kevin Smallmen (Left to right) bridging up to the lead group during Sunday's Short Track. Photo lifted from Country Jimmy

Loren's second get-off of the weekend was the most costly. Not only did the crash break his handlebar in half, it probably cost him a top 10 finish. Photo, who cares.


a gerth said...

Fish Creek??? HOw bout Mill Creek!!!

Matt said...

My bad. I had a feeling when I said Fish Creek, that it wasn't right. Anyway, the road through Mill Creek is completely washed out. )-: