12 August, 2008

Howell Mountain Challenge

It was a warm sunny day in Napa. We arrived at the campus with plenty of time to get ready and pick up some tips about the trail.

After taking some warm-up laps the racers started to gather at the start.
feeling strong

Ryan warming up

Ryan and I started at the back of the sport class. There are a lot of nerves at the start of the race so I tend to start slowly and let those nerves work out amongst the horde.

This track lets you know early what it is about. Shortly after this picture all riders jump off their bikes and run/hike up a short steep hill. Notice the dust.

After some climbing I pulled ahead and passed when possible.

On a loose gravel turn I slid out onto my right side.
I immediately knew I needed a new pair of bike shorts.
Going down in a corner in a race is inspiration to get up ASAP!

When the climbs got steep I passed riders. On these trails it is a battle to simply stay on the bike whether you are going up or down. Many people dismounted during climbs and flew head-over-handlebars in tricky descents.

At the end of the first lap I was in a strong position and my legs felt decent. Heather reloaded my water bottle and cheered me on.

About 15miles into the 20mile race I got a flat tire. The dust was bad for visibility and I ran over what I believe to be a tree root. I'm running low tire pressure with tubes so... my bad.

Upgrading to tubeless seems like a good idea as I watch the race go by.

Congrats to Ryan, who rode a strong first race. He was right at home on the single-track. He battled heat, dehydration/cramping and 4,000ft of climbing (more than Sea Otter) but maintained throughout the race.

The trail was **BURLY** in my humble opinion. I ride loose-rock tree-roots steep rutted trails regularly, but I don't race on them. Not a surprise to find the pro winner was Jason Moeschler. Jason is a 3-time All-mountain (burly biking) Champion.

Race Results

Thanks to Heather for being our pit-crew and photographer!

A lesson learned and a new pair of bike shorts. I don't have any races lined up in the near future. I'm going to focus my race energy on the Sea Otter, and possibly the local road century "The Tour of the Unknown Coast" next year. For now its riding for fun :-)