Napa Valley Dirt Classic 2012

April 15th was the annual Napa Valley Dirt (more like mud) Classic at Pacific Union College in Angwin. I drove out from Davis the day of and was very excited for my first race of the season, and since last July. The race started off quick up a steep paved road. Never being one quick off the line, I quickly found myself falling backward in the pack. As the course meandered over rolly fire road for the next few miles, I started moving up. The fire road transitioned into tight, windy, forested singletrack with punchy climbs. I was loving life on my 29er hardtail. I was able to turn tighter and quicker than I had last year on my full suspension 29er Fisher, and certainly faster than those around me. Taking advantage of the section I was able to pass several riders. Despite several days of hard rain that had considerably dampened the trails, the route was in pretty good shape but now included 10+ creek crossings. The course became fire road again and began descending, turning into dry rutted, kitty-litter over hardpack (sketchy!). After making it through the last hairy bit of the descent unscathed, it dawned on me that it was hot, and I had not been drinking enough. Enter the death climb. After all the descending, we had to climb all the way back out to the start. I hadn’t looked at the course profile and quickly realized that this climb happened to be quite steep, which didn’t work out well for my dehydrated body. About half way up I popped, resigned to the granniest of granny gear, and set about just trying to finish.  After losing many places slogging up the back side of the hill, I finally made it across the line in 10th for cat 1 (19-34) and about midpick. Will I learn my lesson and study the course profile and drink more for Sea Otter and Idyllwild? (foreshadowing: probably not).