Last year’s Kenda Cup Series was bitter sweet for me. Managed to rack up 2 wins and the best record in my Cat 2 class but blew it on the last race for double points and lost the series. C’est la vie! At least I racked up enough to upgrade to Cat 1 and found the PAA bicycling club to boot last year.
Fast forward to February 28th 2015. First race of the Kenda Cup series at Vail Lake Resort in Temecula, CA. I’d be racing with the Cat 1’s for the first time and was eager to see how I would stack up.
The course had seen a lot of rain over night. It was cold and raining still as I warmed up pre-race. Went back to my car and sat in the warmth for a few minutes. I wondered what the hell I was doing here. The conditions were insane. Fueled up on some PowerBar double latte gel shots for caffeine to get pumped up and hydrated with some drink mix. Easy to forget to stay hydrated in these cold conditions.
At the starting line you could already see the field was pretty thinned out. Probably 30 riders between the Pro and Cat 1 classes. Maybe I’d be rewarded for sticking around anyhow.
Got a decent start and was in 4th position. The mud was just crazy. Barely could see anything when following riders. I couldn’t hang with 1st and 2nd but managed to latch on to the 3rd place guy for a bit. About 30m in, the theme of the day started to reveal itself. 3rd place shifted his rear derailleur to horrible grinded noises and had to stop. Felt sorry for him but I was there last year with mechanicals at this race.
The course reminded me of my old days racing motocross on the east coast. Huge ruts, mud, poor visibility, etc. My rear wheel would just spin on the climbs. Many of them you had to dismount and run. On the downhills traction was scarce. Literally, I imaged just been a marble on the trail, only going where the terrain would take me. I crashed … a lot.
On the 2nd lap, I started to have issues myself. My derailleur worked some of the time. Drive train skipping, looking for a gear that would hook-up. I tried to limit my shifting just to finish. Hard decisions though and often sacrificed speed to push larger gears and not shift.
On the 3rd lap, my brakes started to go. They would rub incessantly. I would have to pull the levers to the bars and still want more. Humorously, after I used my front brake I’d have to return it to the un-depressed state manually to stop the braking force.
I started to see many people with issues on the side of the trail. Toward the end of the last lap I noticed one of the guys who had broken away behind me after a hair pin. Maybe I was in 2nd or 1st? Last half a lap I dug deep and managed to keep him behind me. When the results came in I was stoked. 1st place, Managed the win!
Definitely anomalous conditions today and the race was probably not a great predictor of the rest of the season. I’ll take what I can get and it’ll be interesting to see how things shake out at our next race in Bonelli in the dry most likely.
Just what I needed to step up my training.
Thank you to our sponsors: Empire Bikes, Re/Max (Pete, Lisa, & Eddie), Nancy Bond Insurance, Robert K. Shimasaki DDS, Polsinelli Attorneys, Coach Rick Babington, Kevin Knapp Insurance Agent, Matt Construction, Powerbar for nutrition support, Louise Garneau for Clothing and Gear Support, Centric Bicycles, Franco Bicycles, Carole Neary Integrated Health & Wellness, and Fly6 Cameras.