Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just Friends Day (Brooklyn, NY)

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Lori 40, our wonderful host for the Cutthroats' latest adventure, really hit a home run with this trip.

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The only overnight camping near Brooklyn, NY can be found at Floyd Bennett Field. It's about an eight-mile ride from Lori's apartment, but in true Cutthroat fashion we stretched the ride to a day-long endeavor.

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When we reached the campsite, the group of over 50 people spread out and began staking claim to their respective camping domain. By nightfall we had a grill full of food and three fully stocked coolers. The laughter and constant banter didn't seem to end until morning.

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The next day the majority of the campers took a trip to the beach, but a party of three - Rachel, Sean, and myself - drove to Diablo to watch the U.S. Open of Mountain Biking.



We walked up the course during the last few minutes of practice and had enough time to preview the course before the race actually began. The amateur class started and we watched it until a thunderstorm rolled in. The officials put a hold on the race, so we decided to grab some lunch in the meantime. Once the weather cleared up we headed back to the mountain. Our timing was pretty good, and the racing continued soon after we'd reached the top of the course.



The rest of the amateurs rode through and then it was onto the main attraction - the Pro Class! There were so many top names in the race, and their superior skill and speed was obvious. Sam Hill ended up the Victor with Gee Atherton and Brendan Fairclough coming in just after him.

Sean took a ton of great photos while the pros rolled down the trail. The predominant viewing area on the trail was a huge rock garden with a pretty gnarly line. The faster riders opted to jump off the last large boulder, landing just below the final set of jagged rocks.

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You can see more of Sean's photos on his flickr account.

On our way back to the campsite we picked up Darryl Nau and beer - both of which basically guarantee a good time. The last night in Floyd Bennett Field was great. Another chance to spend time with some of my very best friends.

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The next morning we cleaned up, packed the bus, and headed to Richmond - another great trip on the list.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Diablo Race #1 (Vernon, NJ)

At 2am on Saturday morning, Rachel and I reached the parking lot at Diablo. We decided to just lay our sleeping bags behind the car and catch some sleep in the lot before the sun rose. With the exception of one short visit from the security guard, it was a pleasant camping spot.

Once the sun came out, we ran over to the local Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and then I started practicing the course. After a few runs I decided to play it safe on race day. I chose to run the course at a comfortable pace instead of trying to crush the entire track - which meant running the risk of going off course or wrecking.

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That night we hiked up the hill and set up my tent on the edge of the woods. It was another pleasant night of camping, even with the nonstop rain and thunder storms. The next morning we threw the tent and bags into our backpacks and quickly hiked back to the parking lot - all the while getting some confused looks from some of the Diablo staff. We just acted like there was nothing strange about us emerging from the woods on the edge of their park and again headed to Dunkin to start the day.

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I took a couple more practice runs that morning to check out the condition of the track and then headed to the car to run through the race in my head. At 1:45 I headed to the start box and at 2pm I was headed down the hill. I kept to my original plan - avoiding any wrecks, but still pushing the pace while staying in my comfort zone. There were a few spots that I knew I'd run faster during practice, but overall the run was what I'd hoped for. When all was said and done, I'd landed in 7th place (out of 32 racers) - not bad for my first rodeo. I've now got a good sense of my abilities and have already started visualizing ways to speed up my run next time out.

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After the race on Sunday we headed to NYC to visit some friends. It was a dizzying night, stopping by four people's houses and catching up on lost time with some of my absolute favorite people. Monday morning we grabbed breakfast with my friend Darryl and again hit the road - seven hours later we were back in Richmond. It was a LONG weekend, but man was it fun! I'm [reluctantly] taking a few weeks off from racing, then the bus will be headed to Snowhoe Resort in West Virginia. I hope to get two practice weekends in before their first race on June 21st.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Diablo Preride (Vernon, NJ)

With one week to spare before the first race of the season, this trip to Diablo was a crash course in what to expect over the next few months. The bus had nine riders for the trip - Puck, Ryan, Joe, Jarrod, Chris, Nick, Sean, Joey, and myself. We met several other guys when we arrived too. In total I think there were about sixteen of us. It almost felt like we were the only ones on the mountain.

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We rode together for the first few runs and then split off to ride our favorite spots. Joey and I stayed in the rocky, steep race courses and most of the other guys headed off to the jumps and stunt areas.

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I think the weekend was a good warm-up for what's to come. I felt comfortable in the rocky, technical sections and I think that's where I'll be able to make some time on the rest of the competition. We'll see though - the race is next sunday!