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Tanked: Ellings XC, Santa Barbara
Saturday in Santa Barbara started amusingly enough, with us packing the car at 6 AM. The Ramada Inn parking arrangement allowed for Deb to throw the stuff down from the second floor balcony to the sidewalk below. Waterbottles, gear bags and luggage. Almost did the bikes, but we decided against it.

Deb won her race and would've placed second in any of the other female classes. It was nice and cool for her race. The marine layer started burning off as mine started. The usual big field and we started out, very, very fast, with me on the K2. I had prerun the course the previous day, so I had a good idea of what we were up against. Hit the switchbacks and I geeked a couple of them, losing ground to the small pack in front of me. The top of the hill is a huge, wide-open area and they laid out the race course like a maze across the flat areas. You often saw your competition going the other way.

I kept losing ground and started getting passed. Gawd, was I doing poorly. I was giving it all I had and then the 50+ year old guys started passing me. The first hill climb was way harder on me, than the pre-run. I went over everything. I ate right, slept right, trained right. What was wrong? I must've got off the bike at least three or four times, spinning the wheels, checking for brake rub. Nope, no problem there. Get back on bike and finish first lap.

Second lap, I'm thinking to myself, I really, really suck. I granny up the fireroad climb in the bottom of the bottom gear. I middle-ringed it yesterday. It's just a bad day. But every so often, through out the whole race. I heard the rear tire hitting the brake pads. On some of the quieter climbs, I can hear the rim hitting the brake. But everytime I got off and spun the back wheel it was OK. A suspicion started building up and I looked down between my legs at the backwheel as I was climbing. I could see both rear brake arms moving in and out, about a half inch! The rim had to be touching!

I climbed the long paved climb back to the starting area and my sponsor was there, I told him as I passed, that I was cooked. Went through the finish line area and then I stopped and looked really closely at the bike. I pushed against the side of the rear wheel and I was amazed that I could push it over three inches either way. First thoughts in an XC daze; blown Chris King Hub, trashed spokes. My sponsor came over and he figured it out instantly.

The carbon fiber seat stay on the Razorback had cracked all the way through on an old weak spot. Every time I put my weight on the bike, it forced the rear wheel against the brakes! OK, this is my first DNF in seven years of MTB racing. What a drag. I'm not going to detail how I finished the third and final lap, but I did and got dead frigging last. Beats no points for a DNF and I only dropped one spot in the top ten. The photo's of me during the race weren't pleasant. I looked distressed, thrashed and beat.

I have got a line on a very low mileage XC race frame that has seen nothing of the abuse that the K2 Razorback went through. In fact, it almost looks brand new. Regarding the K2, ride and race an XC bike heavily for 4 1/2 years and you get the idea. Time to hang the old warrior up on the garage wall (the bike, not me!). The parts will simply be moved over, as the wheelset is perfectly fine, having just been rebuilt and Chris King hubs just last forever. I am running a new fork and found a guy selling OEM overruns, specifically a 2001 Rockshox SID for $99, brand new in the box. That's all I need and I've got the Fox F100x if that doesn't work. Details on the new bike will be forthcoming as I put it together. It ain't new, but you see many of them at an XC race, that's for sure...
Posted by STP a 48 year old Racer riding a A deal in the making... from P'Dale on 06/06/07

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