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 Firestone 07: in dust, we trust!
Up and at em'! 5 AM on a Sunday morning and we're up and getting out of the Holiday Inn Express hotel room in Solvang. We lined up for the Pancake breakfast at the race. The start time for Sport was 8 AM, so better get something in you and still have time to warm-up. Deb and I were riding around with 10 minutes to go, when I noticed my tubeless front tire going low. Gawd! I ripped over to the Kenda booth, where Jim slapped on a new Kenda 'Small Block 8' to match the rear tire. I had two minutes to my start and wedged my way into the huge pack of 40-49 racers. 40-44 had to have 30+ guys in the class and there was 28 in mine, so you're looking at about 70 guys and no idea of who in your class is up front. I was in the back of the back, due to the circumstance, but I wasn't sweating it either, BTDT. Things are what they are and you just deal with it.

Our group rolled up to the start line and we got the thirty second. Then the ten, and we had GO! The huge pack jumped out and immediately a giant cloud of dust enveloped the whole column. You couldn't see twenty feet ahead of you for nothing. My instinct caught some frames starting to tangle in front of me, I could see the back wheels coming off the ground in slo-mo and I veered sharply off to the left. We hit the very fast and wide open vineyards. Everybody was friggin' hauling and I was trying to move up and maintain a semblance of cardio control. With twenty miles to go, it's a long race.

I got caught up in a duel with another rider and we were slapping passes at each other back and forth. He'd flail by me and then I'd catch him and slap a pass on him. I heard his front tire rubbing my back wheel at one point. Jumped out of the stream bed and soon afterwards a super-sharp right corner into the next high-speed ravine run. I was close behind my opponent and at the bottom of one of the screaming dips, I watched his bike start to get sideways and I twitched my line as he was going down. Maybe a half second to react and it seems like a lifetime as you're fully pumped with adrenaline anyways. I got around and we hit the fence line for the big ugly granny climb.

Nobody's middle-ringing this monster and I geeked it twice on the uphill switchbacks, losing ground to my opponent. We got to the top and started the long, fast descent down. I got caught behind slower guys on the narrow singletrack and it took awhile to find room to pass. Losing more ground. The fireroad ascent to the hill before the landfill was a good opportunity to try to make time, but it's always tough. The descent to the landfill is one, super-fast, super smooth screamer of a descent. I'll bet you can hit 35 mph+ on this one. But got behind a couple of guys tiptoeing the damn thing. Finally pulled a high-speed pass through the grass and got around, right before the landfill.

More climbs, more descents. Going toe-to-toe against guys from other classes and hauling for what it's worth on the single-track. This with a front tire that I've never had on my bike. The last tough climb was the huge ridge alongside the parking area. We're slogging back and forth up this big beyatch of a hill, when my long time bud, James (aka Crossmax) catches up to me and then passes me. I kept him sight all the way back to the start-finish line, where we'd start our half-lap finale. We got out in the vineyards and absolutely flogged! James tucked in behind some guy on a Giant, drafting him for hundreds of feet and I tucked in behind James and took advantage of the easy pedalling to recover. We were passing up all kinds of people. Towards the turn, I jumped out and just put the power to the cranks, getting around a half-dozen other riders, James followed and we busted away from the pack.

We hit the ravines with a vengeance and we were trading spots. We nailed the loose stream bed and then went to work the high speed ravine heading towards the asphalt crossing. I was up front and James was behind, when we came upon a very fast and smooth dip, that also had leaves and loose rocks on either side of the sweet line, I dug down into the outer crank and just railed it. I suddenly heard James wrecking right behind me! I could hear the clatter of bike going down, as I swept up into the upside and shouted out, if he was OK. I heard him shout that he was. I had to press on.

I duked it out with a guy from another class for the finish line. That's always a blast. You've flogged at nearly your maximum cardio for twenty miles and it's always a release to viciously throw the last gasp of what you have into slamming the cranks side-by-side with somebody. I ended up with a top five finish (fifth) out of a field of 28.

Deb did super well in her beginner race, Women's 50+. She ended up first place, beating her opponent by 27 minutes! She is a tough cookie and hauled the whole frigging way. Her biggest advantage over most XC women, is that she can descend with a vengeance! I taught her how to drop the outer crank through a wide sweeper kind of turn the day before and she caught on quick, driving the leg down into it and pushing down hard.

Papo jokingly told her later, what a giant sandbagger she was! It's funny, because she always complains about how slow she is, riding with me. It was great seeing all my race buds. We never see each other anywhere else, but the bro factor never leaves, as we're all part of the brotherhood of pain. PS, Firestone had some very cool Beer Pint glasses for trophies, but they should award five deep (it was tough, two years ago, coming in third, but seeing my best bud, Dave Williams, aka FFW, coming in fourth and bringing home nothing.) As big as these fields are, it wouldn't hurt to award the top five.

Thanks to Rich Bartlett at the Block Shop for sponsoring yours truly (and Deb too), Jim at Kenda tires and Bob Meeker with Specialized. I got to try a 2007 carbon S-works Epic and what a swee-e-et ride that was! Also, thank you guys, for letting me share my stories here.
Posted by STP a 48 year old riding a K2 Razorpiggie from P'Dale on 04/30/07

Responses: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10)  

  •  Re: Firestone 07: in dust, we trust!
    Nice job man!

    Hope Crossy's ok... :)

    I agree...they should award 5 deep...especially when there's pint glasses at stake..

    Posted by Crzyridr33 a 35 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a very light bike on 04/30/07

  •  Re: Firestone 07: in dust, we trust!


    Posted by GhostRider a 31 year old Downhiller on 04/30/07

  •  Re: Firestone 07: in dust, we trust!
    GR - use your imagination man!

    Couldn't you feel the nerves tingling up at the start line, muscles starting to twitch and pop, the nervous heart flutter and the smell of sweat and excitement building up to the go! The irritating tinge of cow dung and nitrogen fertilizer peculiar to the Firestone race coating eyes, nostrils and tongue - flying through the sparse crispy grass and loose dirt/gravel start. The frustration of missing the first group and chomping the bit behind the dabbers and walkers; restraining the urge to push the slow bastids over the edge of the trail! Didn't you tense up with every berm railed, weren't your lungs busting to force just one more micro-liter of oxygen to the legs on that long trudging dusty climb up to the fence line. Dintya get that killer rush just before the end when the cold creek water sprayed up your back and neck and you went into full sprint mode up and around that last coupla switchbacks before the finish!? I can see smell hear and taste it all clearly right now sitting at my desk while I'm not keeping my mind on the 5-year projection I'm supposed to be working on. Thanks a lot Regis!

    Who needs pictures!
    Posted by FFW a 48 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a a desk job and 3 kids from Palmdale on 04/30/07

  •  Re: Firestone 07: in dust, we trust!
    Thanks, Reg! Reading that was certainly as exciting as watching a first-corner pile up in a Formula One race, where millions of dollars worth of carbon fiber body work get strewn all over the course in one gruesome whack! You certainly know how to paint a picture.

    Sponsorship? WOW...now I'm really impressed.

    Posted by Dr Wellington Yueh on 04/30/07

  •  Re: Firestone 07: in dust, we trust!

    Here's some multimedia content for you.

    Posted by Dr Wellington Yueh on 04/30/07

  •  Re: Firestone 07: in dust, we trust!
    I think that last post by the Herr Doctor was.....well, doctored. My Norton AntiVirus popped up with a security alert stating a remote program was trying to access my computer. NAV shut her down after ten seconds.
    Moreover....and more importantly....how did you know I was a big Styx fan?! My favs: Crystal Ball and Man In The Wilderness. But, none of yous guys would know anything about that......

    Your posts are still waaaaaaaay better than STP's...his are, by no means, chopped liver though.........just sayin. Pics, Just Pics, baby!

    Posted by GhostRider a 31 year old Downhiller on 04/30/07

  •  Re: Firestone 07: in dust, we trust!
    Hey GR,

    Pictures are a nice addition, but I couldn't take any of myself while racing, nor of my girlfriend, as she was on the course, just thirty minutes behind me.

    Let's take a look at our modern perspective on writing. Increasingly, we're becoming a society that has to be visually stimulated by the multi-media outlets, whatever they may be. TV and commercials, blip visuals by you at ever-increasing speeds hoping to dominate our increasingly feeble minds. Vid-eo games and i-pods, DVD players in the back of SUV seats and even little TV's in the supermarket checkout lines. Our voracious appetite for the trite and empty fulfillment of our desires goes on unabated. God forbid, that we should read something like a book.

    I own a pretty good sized library and some of the best reading, I've ever done, didn't have a single picture in it. Shelby Foote's three part history of the Civil War in the United States, took him fifteen years to write and was used as a basis for the PBS series on the same subject. There isn't a single picture. The author's description of the people, the geography of the land and the events leading up to such battles as Antietem, Shiloh and even the river war around Vicksburg are phenomal. The reader is allowed to use his imagination to conjure up the emotional scenes of a battle raging in full fury.

    Another incredible example of a book without pictures is Ernest Gann's "Fate is the Hunter", an aviation classic that was written decades ago. His character descriptions are something else. He flew the early mail routes in Douglas DC-2's and DC-3's as a copilot, and later flew around the world as a gypsy of sorts. Any of Stephen King's books, contain nary a picture or photograph, but this gentleman is an astounding writer of great skill. The point is, that pictures don't necessarily make a story.
    Posted by STP a 48 year old Racer riding a K2 Razorpiggie from P'Dale on 05/01/07

  •  Re: Firestone 07: in dust, we trust!
    Reg...if you're into history (sounds like it), check out Bernard DeVoto's "Journals of Lewis and Clark" - stunning. There's a whole chapter where the process of rendering a bison down to edibles is described, in florid prose! And the daily bear attacks are an eye-opener.
    Posted by Dr Wellington Yueh on 05/01/07

  •  Re: Firestone 07: in dust, we trust!
    I'm feelin' it, Reg, I'm feelin' it.

    Look everyone, you can listen to STP and Tom, but you can't hear them. There's a difference...

    Ode to the Soup Nazi....Reg says: "No Pics for you!"

    Posted by GhostRider a 31 year old Downhiller on 05/01/07

  •  Re: Firestone 07: in dust, we trust!
    Thanks for the heads up on the Lewis and Clark account! I'll keep an eye out for it at my favorite used bookstore. GR, thanks for the thoughts. I've always viewed writing in a context that most people give little thought to. We have allowed ourselves to be spoon-fed a pablum of mediocre mass-media baloney that keeps us pacified and dumb. When you read the works of the 17th Century philosopher, Michelle Montaigne, you are having a direct communication with the author. That applies to many, long dead and only their words live on. Thoreau's Walden is another treasured work and his sarcastic view of humanity in the first few chapters had a biting aspect to it. Much of it still applies. Robert Frost's works are another, excellent read and a well-worn favorite.

    I luckily inherited a large number of books. One of them was "The dialogues of Socrates". Many would immediately assume that this was about Socrates and it's not. Plato was the subject. Most college students get little pieces here and there in their philosophy class. This was not the case with myself. The reading had to be some of the toughest, most brain-twisting thinking I ever had to do. Plato and his followers would spend long hours debating in the shade of a tree or some other comfortable spot about some truly encompassing subjects, that have a great deal of relevance, even today. An example would be the subject of what 'is' and what 'isn't' and how to differentiate between the two. Plato ascertained that for something to exist, it had to be contained within something else. Like water in a cup, or a cup in a room, or a room in a house. That got me to thinking about the Universe and the claims that it was infinite. I thought that there could be no such thing as infinite material, from Plato's thoughts. The Universe itself has to contained within something else...

    Posted by STP a 48 year old Racer riding a K2 Razorpiggie from P'Dale on 05/01/07

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