Monday, October 01, 2007

Battle at Barlow

'Battle at Barlow'

Sunday September 30, 2007

Sam Barlow High School

Gresham Oregon

Sunday was my first cross race of the season as well as my first “A” race (35 plus class). I was pretty anxious as this was an important race to see how I would do in this step up. Let me just say that conditions were epic. Portland got an inch or so of rain on Friday. It started raining again late on Saturday evening and continued at a steady pace all day on Sunday. By the 2:00 race after a couple hundred riders had gone through, things were sloppy and rutted. It’s over 24 hours after I completed the race and I am still picking dirt out of my eyes. It was a definite slog, and I never thought that I could actually put the pedal down and stoke the old engine up.

In typical Dan style I got a pretty poor start. At the start line, I was mid way back, wet to the core, cold and not very warmed up. That being said, at the starting gun I took off as fast as I could and managed to catch up and hang off the back end of the top 10-15 riders for the first lap. After this, it was pure survival. The mud was so deep and runny that there were times where it was almost axle deep in some of the ruts. This race was less about speed and skill and more about picking a good line. I managed to stay up right for the race – This is as much a testament to the tubeless NoTubes Michelin Muds system that I’ve been running since last season as it was to my bike handling skills. I was running about 38 PSI. I probably should have dropped it down to 30, but lesson learned I guess.

Back to the race. Each lap was a challenge – the grassy field, the river of mud flowing down and around the corners of the single track, the rutted out trail that changed with each lap, the rail road tie climb, the blackberry brambles and the mud. The ooey, gooey, sloppy mud. This race was a battle between me the course and less about me and any of the other guys I was racing against. That being said, I completed 6 laps in the hour giving me a 14th place finish out of a field of 35 guys. My placing surprised me a bit, gives me some confidence and let’s me know that I am ‘in the game’.

We forgot the camera, so if you want to see me in the mud, you’ll have to look here.

See you next week at Alpenrose!

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