Big Bear is one of the closest races in the WVMBA series, but Tessa still found enough time to kick me in the head on the car ride down.
Mirrored bananas of victory:
After we arrived at the campgrounds, we shuffled into the mead hall to register, then sat in the warm car for almost an hour. It was freezing outside. But at least the bathrooms were friendly:
Closer to race time, I hopped out of the car and started to get warmed up. I messed around with my fork a little, put some air in it, and adjusted the rebound dampening. I finally found a setting that felt good on Reba (they're a bitch and a half to get set up, especially for lighter riders.)
Then it was time to line up.
The experts went off a few minutes before us, then we rolled up to the start line, and the race began. The usual WV guys took a local line through the woods and cut off 20 feet of the start, and I accidentally followed them. The short cut felt like it was slower than the real turn.
We hit the first hill almost immediately, and started catching some of the slower experts. On the first section of single track, Mike "Vaginas are Cool" Cordaro took the lead, and Nathan Annon stayed right on my wheel. We started to put a nice gap on the rest of the SS field, and didn't see them again.
Around one sharp corner, Mike went in a little too fast and crashed. He got right back up, but Nathan and I had already passed him. He stayed out of sight for the remaining 20 miles.
Nathan stayed with me, then on a steep climb, used his littler gear to spin by me. I decided to stay right on his wheel until an opportunity to pass presented itself. We hit the super fast pine forest section at the top of the course, and ripped around the turns. The pines ended and the course went back to the typical chunky rocks of Big Bear.
After a long downhill, we traversed a rocky ridge with a steep kicker at the end. Nathan hopped off his bike, but I kept slowly grinding my big gear and was able to get around him. I passed Shane Gouldthread at about the same place, but the two stayed on my wheel.
While I was killing myself out on the course, a tractor ambled by the finish line with a house in tow. Tess thought it was funny. I have to agree.
We hit the huge downhill that flowed into a stream, and at the bottom when I looked back, Nathan wasn't behind me. I rode the rest of the race with Shane following, then when we were about 4 miles from the finish, he went around me and hammered in. I let him go because he was racing gears and had a head start (and I was tired.)
I kept the pace up, fearing that some SS'er might find and pass me. Before long the finish line was in sight, and I sprinted in (kinda.)
I looked around to make sure there were no magical single speeders there before me, then grinned in celebration. First victory in an XC race and 6th overall.
Don won the old man's class, so when we headed home, we were surely the winningest vehicle at the race.
Oh hells yeah. Money and bear mugs. That's the way to start a season.