While Emma and Maureen where serving up great brews at ales and trails then ripping up the women’s field at the Skyline race, Amon and I (Tsering) headed up to Return on the Jedi. This is my favorite race of the year. Its is located up Onion mountain just outside Grants Pass OR. It starts with a nice technical loop followed by a 9 mile insane climb and then enough single track to make you puke. The riding up in Oregon is just awesome, the single track flows and has a back country feel to it that you can just get lost in. This is often the case, as people often do get lost. Amon and I arrived on Saturday before the race, but missed the Super D that we tried to make. However, according to the Weir and company, we didn’t really miss anything. We decided to camp with the WTB crew and enjoy a massive Mark Weir heckle party that soon ensued, which is always entertaining. Amon and I called it an early night and retired first to prepare for the scorching hot suffer fest that was soon to come. On race day we had a nice relaxed breakfast and then headed out to warm up. This year Return was the Oregon state championship so there was an air of nerves about the camp wondering who would show up and contest the title. On the line Evan Plews, Mark Weir, some Cannondale boys, and of course Amon Pease were the some of the notable characters. The Pro/Expert field started hard and immediately there was a split between the Pros and the Experts. Lucky for me I made the break. Into the first single track section I managed to hold onto 5th place. I then battled with Evan Plews and a Cannodale rider to maintain position going up the hill, but a quick look at my heart rate made me realize I had to take it a bit easier. Some more mixing in on the next single track and I was in 6th going into the long climb, but I was alone. I got caught by one pro rider and caught one pro rider. Just after catching my man I cramped badly and had to hop off and relax a bit. A minute or two later I was back on and chasing hard the rest of the race solo. I had an epic personal battle to keep the pace high while ripping through the back country single track of southern Oregon. My goal at the start of the day was a sub 3hr time being that last year I finished in just over 3hrs. Watching my race clock I powered hard on the Jedi trail, which is the final descent of the race. I hit the final flat section at 2:57 and sprinted all out to finish 3:00.21 according to my Garmin. I was stoaked with the result and finished 7th overall beating some Pros and all the Experts. Not to mention winning the Oregon Semi-pro state championship! Amon who spent a couple weeks in Alaska training hard at his mad dancing skills was happy to finish ahead of all the experts and had a solid race. I can’t wait till next year Jedi! I estimated I took about 8 mins of my time from last years course, so I have no regrets… Yay bike racing!
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