Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Snowshoe Race #1

One of the best trips to date - for sure! Where do I even start? How about the mud...

It was wet and slippery on Saturday when we prerode the course. Just the kind of conditions that I love. We took runs all day, taking breaks in between to relax at the bus.

That night at the campsite we returned to hear the whistle blowing on the Cass Scenic Train, which conveniently ran just behind us.

After that, we walked a mere fifty yards or so and found quite a surprise - zoo animals! When Sean and Puck initially returned from their discovery, the first thing out of Sean's mouth was "don't fucking go over there - it's a fucking tiger!" There were actually a bunch of animals - a leopard, coyotes, two bears, and ducklings - just to name a few.

The next day (race day) we headed back to the mountain in the bus while Greg took his cross bike down the mountain to Cass and then straight up again (10% grade) to meet us in the Snowshoe parking lot. That man's a machine!

After seeing the pitiful "dual-stunt course," Sean decided to race downhill instead. He and I took a quick run down the mountain to survey the conditions and soon after it was time to race. Sean went first and came in mid-pack, a very good result for his first race.

My start was after Sean's. I put in a pretty good run, making only a couple minor mistakes and having to sit once in a while to catch my breath on the fire road sections.

When I reached to finish line, Puck and Sean were sprinting down the hill to meet me. "I think you're winning" said Puck. Knowing that there were still plenty of riders to come, I had my doubts; but as we watched riders file in it started to sink in - I might have a chance of winning! I could hardly believe it - I came in first - over 15 seconds ahead of the next rider in my class! It was a dream come true.

On the way home, we stopped at the Confederate Breastworks to take in the view and unload a few bikes to do a quick bomb down the hill.

A few hours on the highway (with one tire losing its tread) and we were back in Richmond - an unbelievable weekend of fun under our belts.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Snowshoe (West Virginia)

The bus is still in the shop after an electronic malfunction, so this weekend's trip was aboard Joey's Jeep Cherokee.

We left Richmond on Friday night and arrived at Snowshoe around 12:30am. Our friend Dave let us use his condo for the weekend, but the first night we crashed at his friend Darryl's house. The next morning we grabbed the key to Dave's place and headed over to make breakfast and prepare for the mountain.

The conditions at Snowshoe are well known to be muddy, rooty, rocky, and above all - slippery. I switched my tires over to Kenda Excavators in advance, and it seemed to pay off. The rain had stopped a day before, but the ground was still treacherous. I particularly enjoy riding in mud, so I was happy, even when I did slide out from time to time.

We kept making runs on the basin side, since the western territory had only a shuttle bus and we'd gotten a relatively late start on the day. It worked out well, and we put in a decent amount of runs.

When we returned to the condo I started making phone calls to find the rest of our party, which had left Richmond on Saturday. After checking in with them, Joey cooked us a FINE meal - steaks with roasted red peppers and broccoli - delicious!

On Sunday we got an earlier start and were on the mountain by 10:30am. Our group of seven riders stuck together for awhile, then eventually we divided into our own groups to ride our personal favorites.

At lunch, we met a couple guys from Asheville and I decided to ride with them once on the Western side of the mountain.

The trails there are much longer and varied and the shuttle bus can be timed almost perfectly to pick up as soon as you reach the bottom. The guys from Asheville, Thomas and Scott, showed me some great trails. After I'd found Nick and Joey again I took them to that side to show them what we'd been missing. On the shuttle ride back to the top we ran into two of Joey's friends (originally from Staunton, VA). We decided to make one last run with them to end the day. At around 5pm we were back on the road, headed home to Richmond. It was a great practice weekend and I'm looking forward to next week's race.