Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Diablo Race #3 (Vernon, NJ)

For this race, Puck and I decided to leave town on Thursday night in his truck since most Richmonders were staying in town for Best Friends Day and we'd be the only two making the drive to New Jersey. That gave us an extra day to ride and time to stop by his Dad's house in Hightstown, NJ.

Diablo runs their lift until 7pm in the midweek, so we casually headed to the park on Friday and began to take some runs. Unfortunately, a storm rolled in after only two runs. As soon as thunder was audible, they shut down the lift. To make matters worse, we learned that Diablo offers no sort of rain-check for instances like this one. We waited out the storm in the parking lot and met a rider from Brazil named Sergio. Even after the rain had stopped, the lift remained static, so we headed to the campsite and called it a day.

The next morning was damp, but the sky looked promising, so we got an early start and began the day by walking the course to check out this month's race run. Surprisingly enough, the course was much simpler than the last one. The bottom half was almost identical to their first course and it seemed to be the shortest run they've had in a race thus far.

I spent most of the day making runs on the course, but took a few with Puck and Sergio to break up the monotony. We even found a few trails that we'd never seen before at Diablo - helping the park's reputation in our minds after being smashed by the overwhelming acreage of Snowshoe.

The ground was perfect - grippy and soft, without even a hint of dust which usually plagues the park. The temperature was much better also after the previous night's rain. Around 4pm, we were exhausted, so we headed back to the campsite with a quick stop at a local pizza joint.

The rain returned that night, so we each retired to our tents a bit early. The next morning was clear and within a few hours the sun was shining brightly above. Again the ground felt wonderful, so the rain wasn't really too much of a downer. We were able to hang out all of our wet gear while we rode, which was toasty dry by the end of the afternoon.

I took a couple of runs on the course to make sure it felt roughly the same as the previous day, and then returned to the parking lot to relax and mentally prepare for the race. At 1:29 I left the top of the mountain and crossed the finish line a mere 2 minutes, 26 seconds later. It wasn't a perfect run, but overall I felt confident about my performance. I was the first rider in my category, so I was able to wait at the bottom for the two main opponents to cross. Dennis Yuroshek and his teammate, PJ Mihalick (2wheelfreaks) were my most formidable opponents, but I snuck away with the win 5 seconds ahead of them. The best thing about the finish was that all three of us on the podium were riding the same bike - the '09 Giant Glory DH. I'll be selling my frame at the end of the season too, in case anyone's interested.

After the race, we said goodbye to Sergio and headed for Puck's Dad's house for a cookout, then back to Richmond for a quick rest before the next race - SNOWSHOE!

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