Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Action Recap Beatdown

After 3 straight weekends of hotte racing action, {NAPA/DAKOTA 5-0/RAPHA GENTLEMENS' RACE] I'm can only say one thing. Thank hell it's almost 'cross season.

SSWC '08-NAPA, CA
23-24 AUG. 2008

Holy craptastic, where should I start? Day 1 and a delayed flight had us into SFO just in time to miss the Sycip open house, so drive off to Napa, with B.Rose at the wheel. Find the rental house on Main St. in Napa, just in time to drink a bunch of beer with 17 other Midwestern degenerates and a few Colorado interlopers. Late night visitors from Ohio, SLC, & The U.K.
Day 2. Everyone in the house rallys for the hour drive to Fairfax for the Soulcraft group ride.

Carl Decker from Giant rode a "custom" coaster-brake. A pal machines the oversize aluminum shell for heat dissipation, but the guts are from an $8 Shimano coaster-brake.

Our "Squadra" of boozehounds stumble in at the last minute for sweet cruise up and around Tamarancho and Pine Mountain. All kinds of one speeders were waiting in the parking lot of the Java Hut. We took off up the trail.



That night we went to Kirby Cove to meet the American Cyclery Group ride, coming over the Golden Gate Bridge. Up and over the fog swirled gravel access road to the cove meant an exact opposite return grind was in the wings.

Saturday morning meant wake up late then ride to Skyline to preview the course. KMac & I made the 15 minute ride from our rental house and proceeded to find a whole bunch of ss cretins milling about. A perfunctory pre-ride showed that Curtis Inglis & Co. meant business! The course featured monster climbs, fast rolling meadows, and singletrack switchbacks through the trees, technical monolithic rocks set in preposterous spots in corners, descents, and at the entrance and exit of stream crossings. A slab of rock went up, up, up, like an escalator which I don't think anyone would be able to ride, race-day or not. One lap was enough, then it was back to the start/finish/registration area, where the organizers announced that the Decider for the 2009 SSWC would be held at the Napa Bowling Lanes in approximately 1.5 hours at 6:00pm. Four contingents stepped forward to stake their claim: France, Durango, Phoenix, and New Zealand by proxy, via Fuzzy.

The French are not very good bowlers, neither is Phoenix. The field was whittled to two: Durango vs. New Zealand. The final decision would be rendered by a rousing game of Ms. Pac-Man. Durango destroyed the comp, and well, better start planning your trip to the site of the original Mountain Bike World Championship (1990, natch) now. More drinks were spilled and then it was home to get some rest for Sunday's main event.

Starting at the humane hour of 10:00 am meant that race-morning rituals could be performed a little less hurriedly. After downing some oatmeal, eggs & bacon, I rode to Skyline, pinned my number, and waited around with all the other stooges for the starting instructions from Curtis. 21 people who hadn't been able to, or missed the boat on pre-registering, but still wanted in, lined up toe-to-toe for 20 vacant spots. Curtis told all assembled that if they wanted in the race, they would have to sprint down and around the horse corral then back. 21 people, 20 vacant spots. GO! off they sprinted in a mad foot race around the corral. Meanwhile Curtis announced that they all would get in, he just wanted to make them all run. Sweet. Pretty soon after that debacle, Napa's sexiest framebuilder in Lederhosen told us to place our bikes in that field, wayyyyyy down the road, then trudge back up past the horse corral. Nearly 400 riders complied and lined up for the traditional LeMans Start.

Mayhem ensued. People running every which way, trying to find their bikes. On the opening climb, it was a mass of grinding singles, and it looked and felt like a World Cup. I've never been in a race with that many riders. Insane. The climb strung it out and the heck-tators were in full force. An opening loop technical salvo was required, and at the junction where you would turn, only on this first "parade" lap was a bagpipe player serenading the sufferers. Truly a classy touch for what would prove to be an epic day.It was hot, dusty, and crowded. I got caught behind some squirrely riders and tried to make a pass on a rocky downhill turn. Ended up in a patch of what I was certain would be poison oak, unable to unclip from my left pedal. I flopped around like a crappy out of water for awhile, and what seemed like 1000 riders stormed past me. Dammit, Bobby! Finally got going again, Cheever passed me just before the stream crossing and was there to heckle when I came through. I didn't want to stop just yet, and Cheever let me have it: "Why are you LOSING so hard?!?!" I didn't pause to reply as the breathing was labored at this point, and big climbs loomed ahead.

Made it through the first lap, stopped for a water bottle refill as I had jettisoned one on the descent, and took off for another lap of pain. Caught sight of the Mayor of Drunkingham on this lap in a rockpile descent from hell, and when I saw him taking it easy due to some nagging wrist problems, I made the pass. Punched it from then on (well, as much as I could possibly "punch it" due to my anaerobic state) stayed upright in the rocky switchbacks, then had a graceful dismount as I basically fell over my handlebars trying to wind through a volkswagen-sized rock. Back on it, made it to the start/finish for the final push of lap 3. The Brits were offering beer, and when I initially declined, Sara gave me a bollocking so down the neck it went. As I was refilling my water bottle I saw Stevil go through on the start of his 3rd lap. I took off and marked him, constantly around 250 yards in front of me. Eventually, I caught and passed him in the same spot, then abruptly stalled on the outside of some huge rock, eliciting mock protests from Stevil and those behind me. "How you going to pull that shit on a teammate?" hollered the Mayor. Got rolling yet again, and from there it was a battle of survival. I rolled through the finish, and was handed a red anodized Paragon Machine Works bottle opener, stating that I was, in fact, the 174th fastest single speeder in the world! Harumph.

CD lookin' tough after the pre-ride.

Ben Thornton from Texas. Raced the whole day in that mask. Hard as nails.

Damo from Australia brings the Dance Party Disco to SSWC every year. Here, he gets dowwwn with our very own nutter, Girl Shawn. Always bringing the smiles!

Catboxx came out of retirement to roost the singletrack.

[west-coast]Hollywood, lookin' good!

5 comments:

#706 said...

there you are, been having fun i see...

bloodline said...

no progress

jacquie phelan said...

love the photos!
Can you make a link (jacquiephelan.com, inside the mind of the wombat)
Cheers, ever...
Jacquie./Alice B. Toeclips

The Mayor of Drunkingham said...

Alright.. If you are 17th, and you were a few spots ahead of me, then why does mine say 175th? Sumfuns not jiving..

The Mayor of Drunkingham said...

Ah... Right.. Not reading, eyes not working.. 'I see now' said the blind man as he grabbed his hammer and saw...