Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Portland Mountain Bike Short Track Series: #1 and #2

I've been super busy lately. It's weird how much stuff falls by the wayside. A little disappointing, too. So for the last couple of weeks I've been able to get out for a "training" ride maybe once a week. So that's left me feeling a little cold for the Monday night races.

Race #1
Still I had fun. The first race was a HUGE disappointment because in the weeks prior to the first race, the organizers had made note of the fact that they would split the kiddies up into two groups, with the older kids doing a slightly longer race on the more challenging motocross course instead of out in the relatively flat and grassy part under the trees outside the MX course fence.

When we showed up, we were hanging around the MX track awaiting the start of the "big" kiddie race. In fact, once an official set me straight, we dashed over the the trees only to discover that the race had ENDED. A mere three minutes after it started.

Total bummer. My son was visibly upset -- you know, 6 year-olds -- and seemed to be on the verge of tears. I can understand. When you get all keyed up to race and then something happens to prevent that release of pent up adrenaline it can be a hard crash.

What was worse, what I felt like I had let my son down after weeks of talking up the new kiddie race format. My son was stoked about racing on the MX track: "I get to race on the part with all the bumps?"

Last summer he came out to a couple of races with me and at the end, I'd take him out on the MX course (which was part of the race course) and let him ride the whoops and table tops while I ran around picking up cones. He loved it.

"I feel like I'm flying!!"

No kidding. He actually said that.

But the regular kiddie races -- where he's with kids being pushed on trikes, kids on "like-a-bikes", and kids with training wheels -- just leave him wanting something more challenging. And he's obviously not alone.

I wonder if maybe I should try to see if there's something I could do to make a "bigger kiddie" race happen? But's it kind of an issue of time-- it's tough enough getting out of work early enought to get to PIR by 5:30.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if maybe there's a liability issue with having the little kids out on the MX track? I have to admit there were a couple of times when my heart skiped a beat as my son came zooming and bumping down one of the short and steep tabletops.

(But I think we all know how that feels: "I want MORE! Let's do it again!")

Well, he missed race #2. If he comes out with me to race #3 we'll see what happens. I'll have to pay attention.

Race #2
Anyway-- race #2 got off to a good start. I arrived to the course with about 20 minutes to the start. *whew* I was so pumped with nervous adrenaline (Will I make it? Will I make it?) that a pre-race warm-up was not really needed.

I went with the first group -- the Masters -- and was feeling pretty good and holding my own. For a little I was dicing with some guy in WHITE shoe covers.

Yep. White. Shoe covers. Off road. In actual dirt. Dirty dirt.

Shoe covers.

Anyway, there was some pushing and shoving since he seemed to be having some trouble negotiating the turns. That's racing! But I was eager to get by him and those white shoe covers.

After we left the MX track and headed out into the trees, I came to the log between two trees. I was ready to ride over it but the guy in front of me decided to hop off and do the "straddle-tippy-toe" to get across the log. He was occupying most of the opening between the trees so riding through was not a terribly viable option (I didn't want to cause a crash or get caught in one if he keeled over while doing the tippy-toes.)

So I dismounted and ran through on the inside -- bump push 'scuse me -- and dropped my bike back down and hopped on.

Yeeee-hoooooo! My legs just spun round and round so fast! My chain had decided to take a flying leap.

I was rather a funny thing to look down and not even SEE my chain. At all. Where the hell was it? A group of the Team Beer folks across the trail were asking "Dude, where's your chain??" :)

A guy called out that he had a chain tool handy and offered it to me. At first I thought "Foo. I'm done." Then it was "What the hell-- I'd rather be riding than sitting around." So I motioned him over and while I held things in place he removed a link and put things back together. A quick shake of the hands and I found out his name was Jason.

Thanks Jason! You rock.

It was weird how my concentration and rhythm had been broken. For the remainder of the race I felt so off. The chain kept making popping noises and I was worried about it breaking on one of the steep little climbs so I wound up just creeping up them.

But that didn't really matter-- I was riding.

The 8-10 oz. of HEED I had chugged about an hour before kept wanting to come back up. Bleah.

Silly tummy!

I'm looking forward to next week! Maybe I'll put my seat bag back on my bike. Even if I never use it, maybe I can help someone else?

Although I don't think there's any helping someone that wears white shoe covers in a mountain bike race. :)

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