Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Vegas Bob's Sagebrush Report.

Yeah Chris, the season opener at Sagebrush Safari was interesting to say the least. I was picked up by Mark with PMBCer Sean on Saturday afternoon for the trip down past San Diego. It was super sunny and right around 70 degrees. After we passed SD and started east, though, it wasn't long until the temp dipped. The sky got darker and soon it was raining, then a bit of hail, and ultimately we got to the snow. Cars slowed to a creep as we were enveloped in a white blanket normally only seen by Southern Californians on TV. As we queued up in the line behind the snow plow, yes there was that much snow, Mark busted out the Christmas mix from his iPod and Dean Martin completed our winter wonderland experience.

We got to the registration tent and the bundled up girls gave us our new resource-saving "one number plate all season." The small propane space heater they had fired up was a great idea, as were the Girl Scout Cookies they were hawking, and none of us could resist picking up a box of before we headed back out into the snow and to the hotel.

Sunday am didn't come too early as the start was scheduled to be at 11, except for Roger who had already accompanied Jim Wannamaker out to the course for set-up. We got texts from him with pics of the 4 inches of snow on the start line and it was a bit before he confirmed that the race actually wasn't cancelled because of the weather.

It was actually fantastically sunny, but it was still pretty cold and of course there was a layer of snow on everything at the venue. They postponed the start to noon, which I myself couldn't complain about. That gave plenty of time for me to get a good warm-up with The Fuzz and to decide how many layers to wear. As it got later and the sun got higher it warmed up quite a bit but there was still a chilly breeze. I decided to go *with* a vest, but *without* winter gloves that make pulling the brake levers a little more difficult. It proved to be the perfect setup.

The start was horrible. You would think that since there were much fewer racers because of the strange weather it would make the start easier, but throwing different age categories together combined with the delayed start time and apparently a lack of event staff, it was a certified mess. The staff holding the category signs weren't spaced enough apart, or weren't spaced apart at all, and were holding multiple signs, so the Juniors who should have been behind us with the Seniors had mixed in in front of us, and the next sign holder wasn't far enough back to keep us from all being smashed together. When the "Go" was given, the mahem ensued. Half of the Juniors knew that they were supposed to be behind us, so they just sat there and half of us struggled to get around them without putting a skewer or a foot into the guy's wheel next to you. The other half of the Juniors who didn't know any better started pedalling with us, but then slowed when they started realizing what had happened. We were quickly on pavement, which made moving around easier, but with huge puddles, tons of potholes, and lots of racers it still made making headway very sketchy.

After the first big turn back onto dirt we were on what is normally the final stretch of the course, where the stream crossing is. With the intense weather, the stream crossing was close to three feet deep, and it was crazy! The first lap we made it though pretty easily, but subsequent laps proved more difficult as we mingled with the less experienced classes and also ourselves became tired. The loose stone lining of the bottom of the stream, invisible from above, moved underneath your tires and made keeping your momentum difficult. Needless to say the water was freezing, but I think after I got halfway dunked on the second lap the initial shock actually jolted me into riding faster!

The rest of the course was basically cyclocross conditions, with slippery mud, hard packed fireroad, and grass. My CX season definitely gave me an advantage, as well as my Kenda Short Trackers which acted like road tires on the pavement and hard pack, and like mud boggers though the muck. It was super tricky flying through the course, with the multiple laps and all categories on the course at the same time forcing you to keep focus and keep dodging obstacles and other riders. My xpedo M-Force Ti/Ti pedals were amazing, I never had trouble clipping in or out even after having to run through the thickest mud section after getting caught in traffic. Unfortunately my SIGMA computer was covered with slop for the entire race, but still got all the stats and was fine after a good hose-down. I used my Amino Vital to replenish my electrolytes after the race, as well as wash the mud out of my teeth. Thanks to all the sponsors, it's great to start a new season with great back up.

All in all it was a blast! Especially seeing Ara upon his reappearance after winter hibernation. I think he saw his shadow though, and there's gonna be 3 more weeks of hard training (and drinking) before he shows his face in sunlight again. And definitely thanks to Mark for hauling us out there through the snow in his 4X Ford with the heater on.



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