It makes our race look really good. Thom (with a cameo from Colt) did amazing work. Did you watch it yet? It will get you way more stoked than this blog post. Do it now!
Anyway. If I start writing some words the video will scroll up in the blogger box and then I'll stop looking at the thumbnail of Tom Sampson shredding and I can probably focus.
As is standard for a Weasel Productions, LLC* event, we had to change the venue well after registration was open. There were some DCR shenanigans at Foxboro, and we've been kind of building a relationship with the Diamond Hill people for a while now, so instead of trying to beg/bribe/steal our way back into the DCR's good graces we decided to check in with the Town of Cumberland, and just like last December they were totally easy to work with and BOOM, race saved. We did it with a month to spare so there weren't even any panicked tweets or anything. How boring!
Even before the move, we'd scouted Diamond Hill, and I decided that it was a fun place to ride and not a good place for a race. Why? Because it's cramped as hell and has tons of gnarly features that are not the kind of thing I want the general riding public hitting blind, wearing a number, covered by my insurance policy.
(Yes I am a buzzkill)
But then we lost Foxy and it didn't matter what I thought because this is what we were going to work with, so I went down with the guys who built the trails to ride, armed this time with the knowledge that I needed to find an XC course on the ride. And it worked. I cut out as much of the gnarly side loops as possible (what's that, you thought the course was gnarly? Try going right at the open rock clearing at mile 2 next time) and picked the only route into the trail system that was wide enough to ride two abreast.
Unfortunately this route was a fire road climb that Thom called "stupid and hateful," but hey, you wanna have an enduro section, you gotta get up to it somehow, okay? And a race that goes into singletrack in the first 15 seconds is also not great, which was the only other choice.
Oh yeah, the enduro section. This year's enduro section was way more dangerous than last year's because it was faster, and ended with a gap jump. Then two guys tied for the best time and I only had one prize. Strava Enduro is so dumb and I can't wait to do it again next year.
|Gap jump at the bottom of the enduro section. Standard prerace announcement: "One X means danger, two X's means more danger. More than two X's means it's a freakin gap jump, don't do it if you didn't preride it!"|
I spent most of the run-up to the race not sleeping and stressing about how little venue space we actually had across the road to run the event in. 300 racers is a lot of people. The whole thing basically ended up getting staged in some dude's driveway/workshop area, which we were extremely fortunate for him to be cool with. Because if he wasn't, I would have basically had to say "name your price" to make the race happen. It was literally the only place near the trails you could have a hundred-plus mountain bikers congregate.
(um I hope he's not reading this and evil)
|Ok so it's narrow and picturesque, when Meg McMahon takes the photo, it's just narrow when I do.|
The other massive issue we had was that if you were going to have any kind of legit finish straight, you needed to finish heading INTO the woods. And I really wanted a legitimate finish straight, because we're Kenda Cup East this year and production values and blah blah blah... but unfortunately my desire to have a legit finish meant that I spent the entire day trying to keep people from turning around and riding the wrong way down the finish straight as soon as they were done. Because they were cracked and thirsty and wanted to go to their car.
(next year we aren't having a legitimate finish straight, maybe we'll just increase the prize money to offset the lower production value)
Anyway if I was stern with you at any point during the day it was definitely because of this.
Everyone was thirsty because it was a humid day in the low 80s in Rhode Island and the promoter didn't have any neutral water because he may have made totally unrealistic assumptions about how prepared the average racer would be for those conditions...
But of course the great thing is that while I was spending hours thinking about what a cluster my race was, everyone else was having tons of fun because the trails were SICK! So I'll stop telling you what went wrong and start gloating about what went RIGHT.
|The course was SICK. Everyone was raving about it. People acted like I had something to do with it other than putting arrows on someone else's sweet trails.|
|Somehow a keg of beer ended up in the woods at the end of the last technical section. I had nothing to do with this... but I didn't tell them to stop.|
|Marty surprised us with podium champagne. Flying corks scare the crap out of me. But I love this shot and this video.|
|My buddy Tom Sampson showed up and made everyone else look bad at descending. But Dan Timmerman made him look slow at climbing, so Dan won.|
|My old roommate and current friend Cary "the Mantis" Fridrich came and won the biggest field of the day, beating 27 other Expert 30-39 men. BUT NOT ME BECAUSE I WASN'T RACING! So I was able to be properly happy for him, instead of jenvious.|
|Ellen Noble smashed the women's elite field and beat all but six expert men. If being impressed by this is sexist then I am sexist.|
Aaaand that's how a guy peed blood at my bike race and got an ambulance ride and was still somewhat happy about his experience!
I'm already excited for next year.
Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen --
- Chris Nichols did all the work with the Town of Cumberland to get the land access squared away
- Eric Bascombe, Mike LeBlanc and Mark Busse should teach clinics on how to make gnarly trails that still flow
- Alex Carlson did the rad T-shirt and poster design
- My lovely wife Christin listened to me stress out loud about stuff for weeks and then worked to run timing all day instead of racing her bike
- Thom's girlfriend Heather managed to win the sport race after working on her feet at registration all morning and then went straight back to volunteering
- Rich Pirro did about 20 laps before race day testing the lap distances (you can thank him for "Micro Steez DH," expert/elite riders)
- Marty Allen tirelessly coordinated and promoted all the Kenda Cup East stuff, and gave us tons of swag, the Kenda inflatable, and hilarious/scary podium champagne
- And of course Thom P tolerated a million emails from me that were often not especially polite while being a super awesome co-promoter.
- oh god who else did I forget this is why I'm always afraid of trying to thank specific people
* - Thom Parsons and myself. Not a real company. Probably should be by now, huh?