Monday, May 3, 2010

Race Report: MB Cup #1 Grand Beach 2010

First of all, for those of you 'locals' who didn’t show up for yesterday’s annual showing of sand, rain and snow you missed an excellent and well run race.

May is national bike month, and the best way to celebrate your bike and the joy it brings into your life is to race. With this in mind we headed out to the first Manitoba Mountain Bike Cup Race for the year. The Expert and Elite men/women started in the rain a couple of minutes in front of the comps, sport and citizen racers. Despite a fair sized turn out, the 8.5 mile course was not in the least bit crowded. I had another horribly slow start, fumbled for my pedals most of the way up the first hill, and went into the first autobahn pacing with Daniel (Elite Woodcock), Greg (Expert BBC), Tristan (Expert Olympia), Ollie (Elite Woodcock) and the entire field strung out behind us. We were barely moving so I didn’t get all stressed out over my stupid pedals or the lackadaisical pace. Seriously, this was the slowest race at Grand Beach that I can remember. Normally, we are all coughing up a lung, and puking blood after the first lap. I was expecting it to get very very ugly by the fourth lap because of the young stallions I had to race. In fact, I had already conceded defeat before the race began, and had naturally pegged Daniel for the win. An unfortunate mechanical, however, rained on his victory parade before he reached the first decent.

Maybe it was the rain, or that fact that it was the first race of the season, but it seemed no one was in a rush to actually race, and I dropped into the first section of single track in 2nd or 3rd place. I passed Tristan and Greg with no trouble on one section or another, and they in turn would pass me back further down the trail until we all settled into a nice pace that I figured I could hold for just about the rest of my life. Despite being slightly over geared (big surprise) I did pretty well at holding that pace; even with the odd Sport-class guys going left when they said right, or taking a breather in the middle of the trail.

Technically Grand Beach is about as easy as it gets in Manitoba, with two long sections of long double track spliced by two ‘rock gardens’ that everybody seems to like, and a feed/tech zone on the first gradual incline we call a hill. Unfortunately I missed a bottle on the 2nd lap, and struggled to get enough fluid for the rest of the race. On the 3rd lap someone told me about Daniel’s misfortune, and Ollie was M.I.A. (I later learn he had gone to that dark place we all visit from time-to-time), so I set the controls on cruise and rode it out.

60% of the time my bike works all of the time, but my poor choice of rubber finally caught up with me (semi slicks and mud are a bad combination by any measure), and I rode out the next two laps looking like a corn dog. Ollie was falling further behind, and appeared to be losing 30-seconds a lap. Greg, however, was highly motivated, having a good race, and went up the trail after I sampled the sand. Unfortunately, Tristan (who was pretending he was riding a single speed) was having a lot of bad luck, and messed up his bike on the last lap when he crashed just before the final push.

Other then getting some treads mark tattoos from Tristan, a face plant, and broken stem it was a pretty uneventful race.

As a final note there was a strong single speed contingent. Dallas with a sexy panther, Cory who can’t stop burping, ready to rumble Greg S, JP, Hal and perhaps others I didn’t notice or can’t remember.

On The Podium

The Gold Medal for the rider who had the most fun goes to Awesome Dallas, the most aggressive - Greg, the most improved is a toss up between Rob B and Hal (both cleaned the rock garden!), the smartest race - Adam (1st Comp), the worst luck - Daniel, puppy love – Nathan and Tamara, strangest bike – Tristan’s 96er, sweetest bike – Dallas, and I will take Gold for the best crash. The greatest part of mountain biking is we can all have are own gold medal moment.

The food was tasty, the course was well marked, and it was fun to knock elbows with a fantastic bunch of people. What more could you ask for? The only thing which could have made this a better weekend would be if young Luk was there to take me out in the final sprint. Rest easy good buddy we will hold a spot for you when they call us to the line.
Now the race season has started in earnest. I think I will head for the hills.


Other reports Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, and one more Here and Here and the last one Here

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