Downieville 2009!!!! I have just three words to describe the Downieville Classic…WA-OW-WA!! I have been reading about this race for years and I was absolutely blown away how fun and well organized this race is. Downieville itself is very cute and quaint. I could just imagine how this little town looked 100 years ago…teeming with gold panners, horses, and the like. Marin hooked the entire team up with some awesome cabins at the Lure Resort which is located a stones throw from the Yuba River and downtown Downieville. The whole gang was there (except TSERING….dam!). Mo, Brian, and Matt arrived early to pre-ride (wicked smart eh?). Anna, Emma, and I arrived Friday afternoon and got in a ride on the lower half of the River Trail. I can only imagine how many awesome trails there are in that area….sooooooo goooooda. The legs felt good and Anna got some video of Emma and I blasting through a rock garden. We rolled back to the campsite and low and behold…Amon shows up! He says “I am going to go spin the legs”….I say “I will go with you!” We headed back out to the River Trail and made some tracks. Now let me ask a question…How is it that one rider can pull away from another rider on a straight downhill section of trail when neither rider is applying the brakes? Amon manages to do this, seemingly at will. I am suspicious that he has come up with some sort of clever invisible hydraulic cable system that he uses to pull himself down the hill faster than most other homosapiens. That dude is soooo STEALTHY! At camp that night the team was diligently going over the bikes and preparing for the XC in the morning. Young Jedi looked over at me and my Nail Trail and asked “Are you really going to run those 2.25 Moto Raptors?”…translation “get a clue dude…we run 2.5’s here in D-Ville. Matt Whittler, a.k.a. True Grit, a.k.a. Young Jedi, makes me feel like I am hanging out with all my friends compressed into one person. Ladies…ya got ta get wit Matt W!!! FO REAL!! He’s is pretty like Justin Timberlake…but witty like Woody Allen. Later on…Brian said something to me that changed my entire weekend…it went something like this…”Hey Geoff…why don’t you just ride this here full XTR, full suspension, Alchemist 4.9…and here are some BRAND NEW 2.5 tires” WOW…what an upgrade. It felt like Christmas and my birthday all at once! I grabbed the bike with the zeal of a fat kid in a candy store and slapped my seat and pedals on. Now anyone who has done this race knows how brutal the decent is and I am here to say that Brian’s generosity SAVED MY ASS…I had NO idea….As much as I love the Nail Trail I am 100% sure that I would have flatted (probably multiple times) if I had run the hardtail. So I say to my fellow teamate…”I LOVE YOU MAN!!!” Oh by the way…Brian rode that same f&#$ing decent that made my yoga doin’, construction workin’ arms sore for three days….with a BROKEN SHOULDER. Tyler Hamilton ain’t got sh@t on B-real. The next morning at the start I found myself at the very back of the pro field…far enough back that I didn’t move for almost 30 seconds after the gun went off. No big deal…lots of time to catch up on the eight mile climb up. The pace at the start was pretty mellow…partly due to being at the back, and partly due to the fact that most of the riders figured they would be climbing for the next hour plus. I worked my way through the pack and continued on up the hill. The climb was perfect for me…long, steep, and rocky. My training here in the Southern Humboldt valley has primarily been long extended climbs and I felt great. I continued to work my way through the field and punched it at the top when things flattened out. I knew things were going well when I dropped riders on the traverse to the last climb up to the feed station. At the top of the climb I grabbed a bottle from my lovely and ever so supportive wife and jumped onto the single track. Now as I said before this decent is BRUTAL! Things didn’t get crazy at first, and I was able to pass some riders…but then BOOM…rocks the size of pumpkins…loose gravel, BAM, more rocks the size of Volkswagon Beetles, more dust, and then the unthinkable started to happen…riders started to pass ME! Now I have never claimed to be a superstar descender…but I can honestly say that I have never really had a hard time keeping up with fellow XC racers on descents. Well this was not your average XC descent and I paid a dear price for not pre-riding. My math told me it took me 1hr 14min to get down that dam hill….very turtle like….but I kept my cool and allowed the bombers to go by and did my best to navigate the trail in the cloud of dust they left behind. For the majority of the decent I was by myself and believe it or not there were times where I was actually laughing out loud (lol eh?) at how nuts some of the sections were. Later I was joined by my new best friend Chris Brown and another rider…and we exchanged amazement at the sight of seeing a rider UPSIDE DOWN in a tree off the cliff side of the trail…like I said…this decent is BRUTAL! As we hammered the lower sections I started to feel my lack of hydration and eating catching up with me and lost a couple more hard fought positions…I think I lost as many as six spots in the last two miles of the race. Bummer, but no big deal. I ended up in 9th for the XC and 35th overall. That means if I would have been more prepared I could have competed for a top 25, maybe even a top 20! (Wa-hooo….down boy!) So I now have a very detailed itinerary for next year. It goes like this. 1.) Build a sub 30 lbs 5-6 inch travel all mountain bike (DUH!). 2.) Get to Downieville a week early and pre-ride the course at least two times (DA-UUH). 3.) carry a bottle on the climb, and have a camelback for the desscent (just like all the smart people). 4) Use gel flasks for the descent…its hard to pull a gu packet out of your jersey pocket and open it while going 20mph on a descent with rocks the size of small R.V.’s 5.) TUBELESS TIRES. 6) Pre-ride the course again if needed. and 7.) Get to the start about 3 hours early and jump on the rollers so I can get the jump on the other 799 racers! SOOOOO…I can’t thank Marin enough for all the super support. Steve and Chris worked their asses off at this event and did a great job I might add. I am really happy the team was able to get together and plan future events…Moab anyone? As for me I have at least four more races on my calender. The legs are coming around and I am hungry for some more pain. BIG props to Mo for her 5th place overall. We all know you are an Olympian deep down. Much love goes out to Brian and Nicole…hope the shoulder is healing quickly BRO-ian. Emma gets mad props too for coming all the way in support of the team. Next year look for ALL members of Team Lost Coast to be in the top 20 with a light sprinkling of podiums as well. Amon owes me a 10hr death ride and Matt owes me a climb and decent of Mt. Ashland. Brian owes me a podium for the one he didn’t get because of the severely inconvenienced cartilage in his shoulder. Take care all and I look forward to the next team event….Lazers…Geoff.
P.S. Don’t EVER….call Amon….”Fruit Cake”…Thanks…G