After a week full of constantly checking the weather for race day, the SoCal MTB racer's nightmare occurred. We made the commute out to Temecula to pre-ride the course at Vail Lake, conditions were great, and the course was fun and flowy. I was ready to do the 3 laps the next day, but was hoping for the weather to hold.
Sure enough the next morning the parking lot was filled with water, mud and many shivering bodies. Because CAT 1 raced at the end of the day, the conditions only got muddier, slipperier, and more un-rideable than ever before. I warmed up, got to the starting line and was comfortably sitting in the second row. My goal had switched from going all out, to finish, and go as fast as I could on the descent without putting my season in jeopardy.
GO! The race starts and it is complete chaos from start to finish, at the first left hairpin turn an orchestra of brakes squeal. As expected the domino effect comes into play on the first single-track, and everyone is off the bike running. After a couple minutes in the single-track I find myself on the wheel of my teammate! I was excited to work with him, but he had run into some problems. So now I was just trying to make it down the first descent alive. It was so slippery the bike felt like an angered bull trying to buck you off.
After a mixture of having a foot out and running for the first part of the course I finally hit a fire road where I could actually ride my bike! The same sequence occurred for every fire road, and every single-track. Every steep climb was nearly impossible (at least for me). My shifting progressively got worse, and the rolling resistance kept on getting worse. But I was determined to finish. I pushed on through the last lap, and was relieved that my bike was (sort of) ok! Although the conditions were super wet getting water to drink was one of the hardest things! Because of the mud that flies up on the lid it would be better to hydrate from the water in the puddles!
I was satisfied with a 3rd place finish in my first ever CAT 1 XC race, and learned a lot. Although we do complain about the lack of rain we get in SoCal, I’d rather stick to the dry crusty dirt we usually have, I couldn’t imagine racing in conditions like that multiple times a year!
Kenda Cup WEST #1, March 1, 2015
Vail Lake Resort, Temecula, CA
XC CAT 1, 15-16