Well the pain has finally worn off from the latest Lemurian Shasta Classic. No interval training, hell not much training at all, coupled with a 25 mile 4900' climbing course was a recipe for disaster. At the time it seemed like a good idea, mind you, "at the time" was sitting by the pool in Prescott the week before the race. We got back from the Coconino Loop an Monday and the race was on Sat. Todd was going to be holed up in the group camp with some like minded people for Fri. and Sat so we headed out for the 200 mile drive North.
We arrived just as the sun set, got set up, said some hellos and were off to bed with a 6;30 wake up time. The wind had been blowing all the way up the valley, at least 30-35mph and it had not let up when we went to bed.
We awoke to the same wind, just 20 degrees colder, perfect for putting on spandex! After getting some food down I was off to the start line, Bonnie, Jennifer and Randy were the only others to race today, everyone else was either off on a hike or just riding the amazing network of trails in Whiskeytown. I made my way to the front of the grid, everyone thinks the're fast at these things, but my last race here 5 years ago I was 6th overall, not bad for the toughest race in NorCal, maybe even the state. The gun goes off and the pace is already a bit fast as we crest the first paved climb, I manage to get myself up to 3rd or 4th and the lead guys just sit up. WTF. Here everyone comes, and now it's a cluster with 25 guys all trying to push to the front before we hit the dirt, not fun....
The first climb is a doozy. Straight up, it separates the men from the boys, I was a boy today.....I have never lost so much time on a climb. We crest the hill for the Gas Can decent, a rutted out screamer that terrifies me mostly, people are going down hard everywhere and all I can think about is "don't crash, not here, not now". This race is either straight up or straight down for the most part, there is some flume stuff, but I got crushed on that because it is so twisty, all I could do was brake hard and accelerate out of every turn, definitely a locals course.
The course went along as a I remembered, a bit different as we went up the screaming decent of the 8 hour course. I didn't remember how long the course was, my legs were beginning to cramp a bit and we still had a little over 5 miles to go I thought. The steep uphills were starting to take their toll as I was having a hard time descending due to my legs being just on the verge of cramping, I could pedal alright, but as soon as I stood up they tried to lock up.
The last bit of the course is pretty fast and technical, with a few little kickers to make sure you fall over with cramps, I didn't fall over, but I certainly wobbled a bit. My legs were now going in and out of pretty serious cramps, I was still moving, but it was not easy. Everyone else must have been feeling it too since no one was coming by me. The end of the course is a steeeeepp little 400' section, by the time I crested the top I was in full lockup. The crowds were huge here and I didn't want to embarrass myself by falling over and curling up into a ball, so I gutted it out down the singletrack finish with a likely grimace on my face.
Five years ago I did a 2:20 and I was in pretty good shape, it got me 6th overall, right smack in the middle of the Pro class. This years pathetic showing netted me a 2:27 and a whopping 25th overall, man the competition is getting faster, and there's more of them! I did manage to win the 45+ class by 4 or 5 minutes, but a closer look at the results showed a guy that would have raced in my class to be in the pro class, so second is what I consider it, even though it says first on the medal.
|Rick Kalb and I|
|Brandy Creek Falls|
After the ride we settled in for some food and drink, much beer and whiskey was consumed. The group camp next to us had been invaded by forestry students from Humboldt State, the fresh smell of dope gave them away. Later that night a couple of them came over to join in the festivities, the crew was getting a bit loud and words were getting pretty slurred when we made my way off to bed.
The next morning we all gathered up for breakfast and a group ride. Todd and I were in search of something different and decided to go off on our own since we would likely be bushwacking or climbing some stupid mountain, both of which happened on the ride. We found a beautiful trail that led us up some steep roads and a few creek crossings to Boulder Creek Falls,very nice!
|Todd crossing Boulder Creek for the umptenth time|
|Boulder Creek Falls|
|Sweet singletrack climb|
|Todd coming into Papoose Pass|
|The view from the pass|
|The decent off the top, doesn't get much better!|
After the falls we were off to find Papoose Pass. We met a hiker coming down the trail and he offered that the treefall was pretty bad and we should turn around, boy am I glad we didn't. We did have to bushwack around some pretty big downed trees, but as we got higher it cleared out and we were riding amazing singletrack, judging from the flagging not much more than a season old. The decent off Papoose Pass was amazing, swooping narrow singletrack for miles, we were all smiles by the time we hit the bottom at Lower Brandy Creek Trail, the last rocky decent from yesterdays race. We whooped and hollered our way down the trail and back to camp, all in all an excellent day!
Just a taste of what's out there, I'm looking forward to spending some time up there in the future to see what's available out further. It is certainly tough riding, our little adventure was only 13 miles, but it climbed 2,900 feet in that distance, well, half of that distance at least!