Its Monday. I'm still recovering from all things Thursday, Dry Hopped, Rock and Elevation related. The weekend was a blast, got to see tons of folks that I'm lucky to have met this year, and didn't know if I would see again. A well deserved thanks goes out to Curtis Inglis and Jeff Hantman and all the other folks that got together, and put lots of time and money into throwing an event for those of us lucky enough to get in. With more traditional promoters driving volvos and their races lacking anything that got this sport going, let alone the fun of an SS event, a real hats off is owed to these two gentleman and the sponsors that were kind enough to give of their time, craft, and pocket to make it all come together.
Saturday our crew made it out of San Rafael and up to Skyline Park to hang out and camp the night before the race. The festivities kicked off when four brave souls put themselves on the line, representing France, New Zealand, Durango and Phoenix vying for next year's locale. Round one involved a full game of bowling at Napa's very own Napa Lanes. As is typical of all bowling alleys that aren't new fangled and/or offering cosmic bowling, this one came complete with a bar that quit catching up with the times decades ago. Pitchers were had, and a well spectated game of bowling occured, complete with friendly taunting, a John Elway outfit, popped french collars, and mexican wrestling masks. In the end it was the crew from Durango, and Fuzzy representing the Kiwis that came out on top, moving on to round two. Curtis emerged from the crowd, megaphone in hand, and slapped $.25 in each of there hands. Ms Pacman it would be for the right to host next years SSWC. (rhyme completely unintentional, embarrassing, and caught only in a final edit) A crowd 100 strong tried its best to gather round the arcade, but similar to XC racing, arcade games make for poor spectator sports, and it more or less turned into a crowd of people standing around drinking and waiting for the results. Durango's "Chainsaw" was able to best Fuzzy, and we were all heading to Durnago in '09, and on to other parties for the night.
Sunday morning came early after a late bedtime battled with a little leftover eastcoast sleep schedule mixed with that inability to sleep in when sleeping out. The early hours brought more cars and more racers to skyline until the place became a veritable scene of costumed hardmen and women on a collection of anything from Ti masterpieces, to MTB hall of fame worthy vintage exhibits. There was a hot lap around the nearby horse stable to determine the top 20 folks that could get a pass to the event if they didn't have one. After a long run in the hot dust, Curtis let everyone in, and the rest of us knew what we were in for.
We stashed our bikes a few hundred yards away, and returned to the start/finish for a few parting words from Curtis, and we were off. I followed a group of people around what very quickly made itself known as the wrong side of the track. The clockwisers got away with 2/3 of a lap, while us counterclockwisers essentially did a lap and a quarter, all this time my bruise bouncing like a chinese diver's breast with each jogged step through the dust. Just a reminder that this day was going to hurt. The run did manage to spread everyone out, and the rest of the day wasn't nearly as plagued by traffic jams as I thought it would be.
The course, as promised, contained nothing flat. It was either up or down, and when it was either, it was severe. The first lap included a little bonus half lap that added in some techy switchback descents and another steep climb before rejoining itself near the top of the first climb. It was on this climb that some guy on a Seven (read questionable Ti) stacked it on a switchback. I ran into his frame and took my only fall of the race, avoiding the tumor on my side, but loosing ground on Doug Jenne, friend and combatant, in the shuffle.
Back on the bike, back to work. The second and third laps opened up tremendously as attrition was at a high but expected level, with riders pulling over for beer (which i somehow managed to grab on the go) or to take pictures and just enjoy the day. I find balance in all things. I'll drink the night before, or during the race, i'll have a good time, but I am here to "race" and even though i wasn't really pushing it, I was going to finish strong no matter what. It was a hard day to say the least. Race prep was at an all time low on my part, and the 27 or so miles of racing was arguable the hardest 27 miles i've tried to ride at race pace this year. Up and down, huge rocks, dusty lines that my east coast tire choice/pressure didn't agree with: it all added up to a good amount of suffering, which made everything that much more fun. My paragon machine works bottle opener says i finished in the top 70. An excellent balance between fun and DNF.
The awards and afterparty were everything they should be expected to be. Beer, bike made margaritas, and long lines at the burrito stand. For my suffering with contusion/hematoma efforts, I made away with a Timbuk bag, a bottle of Markham and a bottle of Grassi Cab Sauv, two SSWC08 custom tees, some twin six schwag, Tenacious oil and enough good coffee to last me through my next hotel stay from the folks at De La Paz. The real prize was a copy of Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson's "A star is born." Gate fold vinyl. Whoever donated this did some digging to find it. Well done. Next came a round of hard goodbyes to guys and gals I don't get to see enough, and some to a few that I'll see all too soon, and I made an unwelcome but necessary journey into the arid farmland east towards Reno, NV.
I'm convinced the blogger needs to update their lousy process for uploading photos. So until then. Here's my PreRaceDay set and my RaceDay set. Enjoy.