Just another view on another road trip
I began this past block of races on the road at the China Peaks Ski Resort for the second round of the California Enduro Series. This is one of my favorite courses to race because it challenges physical fitness, technical skill, and endurance. It also has an awesome atmosphere due to the fact that most racers camp together in the parking lot. This creates plenty of entertainment. On top of that it is among the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains with a handful of fishing and swimming holes just a short walk from the camping area.
Catch and release at China Peaks
Practice is always a blast because who doesn’t love riding the chairlift up and shredding down the trails with your buddies.This was the first weekend I got to shred with the Felt crew at a race and what a weekend it was. I wont bore everyone with the details but lets just say these guys know how to have fun at a race. In the end I think all of the fun was a good distraction to help me keep my mind off the race.
The race itself was bitter sweet. I started the day off with a second place on stage one and a win on stage two. At this point I was sitting in first by six seconds with one fifteen minute stage left to race. I went into the stage calm and confident and hit all of my lines until I punctured my tire on a hidden rock about 5 minutes into the stage. I rode it out and ended up finishing the weekend with a 19th. Once again China Peaks got the best of me but I will be back next year to give it another go. Despite my race placing I had an awesome weekend with many friends new and old.
I then drove over to Marin County to hang out for a few days before heading north to Ashland. The first day I was there I went out to ride and took a pretty good spill. In the process of going from 20 mph to 0 mph I managed to sprain my wrist pretty good. I spent the rest of my time in the birthplace of mountain biking being a tourist. This turned out to be quite eventful when I took a trip down to Fisherman’s Wharf. While sitting on a bench eating my delicious crab chowder bread bowl I got dive bombed by a sea gull. The gull unleashed his load (poop) right at my face. I have to give the bird credit. He hit the bulls eye well actually my eye which made for a good laugh.
After getting attacked I continued northward towards Ashland. I made a pit stop at the Formula North America headquarters to check out the latest on the brake market. I then continued on to Redding, California where I found an awesome free campground. I woke up the next morning and drove the final two hours up to Ashland.
The best things in life are free
At this point my wrist was still not strong enough to race so I was assigned the duty of shuttle driver for my Felt teammates. The day before the race I went out to the fire road to do a set of intervals. Thinking I wouldn’t be able to race because of my wrist I wanted to maintain my fitness. After the workout I was descending back down the fire road and I noticed my wrist was capable of more than I thought. By the bottom I decided that my wrist was in fact strong enough to race. Unfortunately at this point it was to late to practice any of the courses.
Race day went well. I raced as good as one can on a course they have never seen with a tender wrist. At the end of the day I came down in 9th which all things considered is a very good result for me. The Felt crew once again made the whole weekend more fun than I thought was possible. For that I thank them all.
Coming in hot in Ashland Photo by Mike Albright
Up next was the second round of the Oregon Enduro Series in Bend, Oregon. I got to Bend a week before the race so I had plenty of time to pre ride and learn the course. After some kayaking and fishing on the Deschutes I was ready to race. Stage one got me again this year. I clipped my foot on a rock and got ejected from my bike. I quickly got back on a finished the stage in the top 15. From there I know I had some work to do to pull back the time from the crash and make a run at the podium. I kept my runs clean and fast staying inside the top ten on the final four stages. I finished strong with a 3rd on stage 5 just .2 seconds from winning the stage. At the end of the day I managed to claw my way back from 12th place on stage one to 4th place on the podium. I owe a big part of my success to the bike. It was strong enough to take being slammed on the ground one stage one yet light enough to bring back time one the pedaling stages. It also had enough grip to make easy work of the blown out sandy turns.
Bend race run stage 1 Photo by Mike Albright
It was something special to pop the champagne on my first ever pro enduro podium. I am hoping to take this momentum with me to my final two races at the Enduro World Series and the Downieville Classic. Before I can wrap the season up I am once again heading to Big Bear to coach at the Southern California High School League summer camp.