The Skyline race in Napa was the first race I had done in a while. It has been quite the bummer of a season as I missed the last two races (Ashland Spring Thaw, and Tamarancho) because of a concussion and the flu respectively. I hoped to look at this weekend more as being well rested than out of shape.
Skyline is one of the classic Northern California races. It’s a brutal course with relentless climbs and rocky descents, which ensures that only the strongest all around riders will do the best. A slight change in the course for this year changed the initial climb from the very steep and loose Pasini road, where the course has gone for years, to an adjacent fire road that was much more pleasant.
With a slow start, I was mid-pack as the first of three laps turned toward the descent. Near the beginning of the descent onto Manzanita trail is a rock garden with particularly sharp rocks that is a common spots for flats. I hit hard with my rear wheel, heard the rim hit the rock, and the dreaded hiss of a flat. I pulled off and quickly found the leak at the bead where I had hit and dented the rim. After shaking the wheel a few times I was able to get the stans sealant to seal. I aired it up with one of my CO2’s only to have the seal break again and lose the rest of the sealant. Frustrated, I rushed to put in, and air up a tube. In my haste, some of the CO2 leaked out, and I ended up with very low pressure for the rest of the descent. I tried to make my way down carefully, and made it almost all of the way to the bottom before flatting again. At this point I was pretty far behind in the race, and out of tubes. I ran the rest of the way back to the start-line where I could get a tube and pump, and resigned myself to making the rest of the race a training ride.
The next race up is Downieville in August, and I’m hoping to have better luck, and legs, by that time.