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2018 LaGrange Mountain Bike Race Report by Adam Pressman

June 11th, 2018

I must have been absent the day they handed out MTB skills. For whatever reason, getting the MTB around corners, especially steep corners, is a skill I’ve never acquired.  Even when I think I’m going fast, I’m actually going slow.  It’s like the laws of physics have teamed up with my brain to create a diabolical didactic infused with an alternate reality where things just aren’t as they are, but they seem to be.

Accepting this alternate reality for what it is, and what it isn’t, I found myself in Weaverville at the LaGrange Mountain Bike Race, trying to convince myself that honing my (nonexistent) MTB skills would be a good idea, especially since I abandoned good common sense and entered Downieville, which is scheduled for early August.

Jake is there along with a bunch of high school MTBers, and there is a solid showing of Redding and Eureka folks, along with guys from places like SF.  It’s all very chill and light – way more chill than the wattage/testosterone measuring parade that is the staging area of a road race.

We start at a park, and have a neutral roll through downtown to the area near the high school where we briefly stop before the gun goes off.  I grab wheels for shelter from the concrete cross/headwind for the brief time before the first singletrack.

I’m like 20th going into the singletrack. We congo line up and down little bumps, and everyone’s together.  Eventually, the ups start to create widening gaps as riders fade, but the narrow singletrack prevents passing.  I get around a couple guys and try to get to the next guy.  I get closer, but then it gets more technical, and I fall back, a process which repeats itself again and again.  I have the following conversation with myself:

Me: dude, we are crushing this!  Those others are stuck in traffic! Ha! Sucks to be them!

Myself: check yourself, you just about clipped that tree!  Don’t crash us!

Me: I got this.  We’re flying.  Don’t be a party pooper.

Myself: You just about clacked that rock with your pedal!  Pay attention, this isn’t ZWIFT.

Me: You’re wrecking my concentration with your whining.  Leave me alone, I haven’t hit anyth …

Myself: Dude, you just hit a tree!

Me: I told you your whining would wreck my concentration.  Now there are a bunch of guys right behind us!

Myself: I’m closing my eyes, I can’t watch anymore.

Me: don’t close your eyes! I won’t be able to see!

Once safely (-ish) out of the singletrack, we do the first climb out onto a ridge and are greeted with a sideways gale.  Back to singletrack along a steep sidehill, followed by short hike-a-bike which I totally screw up and watch Jake and others go away.  Down a zipper of switchbacks, into more cool single track, onto a winding climb back to the ridge and a bomber downhill to more singletrack which I recall from years ago.  It’s fun, super fun.  There are two guys ahead, one of which is hammering a ‘cross bike (I don’t know how he didn’t flat a zillion times).

Me: This singletrack is awesome.  We’re gonna catch those guys, and find a place to pass!

Myself: Ok, just be careful. Remember, you almost killed us earlier.

Me: That could’ve happen to anyone. No blood, no foul.  How the heck are they staying away from us, we’re ripping!

Myself: We are clearly not as fast as you think.

Me: Whatever.  There’s nobody behind us, so even if we don’t catch ‘em, we aren’t going to lose any places.

Myself: I agree.  We’re almost there.  Bring this thing in, and let’s just chill in the park a bit.

The singletrack goes longer than I remember, but finally, we hit the main road, and I anticipate trucking the last ¼ mile downhill to the finish line.  Wrong.  A course marshall points towards a scrabbly, scruffy burned area with a zigzag of lines over rocky ups and downs.  Whatever.  I’m almost there and nobody is behind.

Me: What was that?  I hear someone behind.

Myself: I heard it too.  There’s definitely someone there.

Andy: Adam, I’m right behind you!

Me: Arrrgggghhh!  Great. We will have to deploy our non-existent sprint when we exit the singletrack.

Myself:  there’s no way to pass, this singletrack is too narrow.  Just don’t jack it up in the last few bits and we’re in.

The single track ends about 10 feet from the finish line.  I have enough left to hold my spot, figuring I was someplace in the mid-pack.  Andy and I bump fists and gasp for air.  I acknowledge he was definitely faster through the end, and that only the narrowness of the trail and my girth allowed me (and myself) to get third place in the pre-AARP category.

Jake grabbed third in his category.  Steve Wilson also took third in his category.  Both were well ahead of me.

It was a really fun race.  I’m glad it’s back, and I hope they do it again next year.  The trails are really fun.  Really fun. (Did I mention it was fun?)

Thanks all of y’all for all the rides and the smiles, and thanks Owens for all the support.

 


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June 11th, 2018 12:05:17
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