I'm no hammerhead racer. I typically do a handful of races every year for the challenge and to stay motivated. But for me, mountain biking is not about who's the fastest or what your power output is. It simply is the most efficient, reliable, and flexible means of back country exploration there is.
My more memorable rides are those where I pedaled for long hours into unexplored mountains and deserts with nothing more than a topographic map and the constant anticipation of what's going to be around the next corner. I'll take that any day over paying $45 to ride around in circles for a couple of hours.
Thad said, there is one race I hate to miss. The annual Desert Rampage in St. George is one of the best courses on the local ICUP circuit. It is always well attended, and it serves as the official kick-off for another season of mountain biking.
I decided I could get more for my money and race 21 miles instead of 14 if I bumped up to the Expert category. This is one class below Pro so I wasn't expecting any great results.
Waiting at the start. I guess I'm the only expert out there not sponsored or on a team. Oh well, I'd hate to give up my new $10 green jersey anyway.
I didn't have a great start. After the initial dirt-road shakeout, I was about 12 places back, and that's about where I stayed the whole race. I passed a few, a few passed me - I just settled in and got comfortable and never pushed too hard. If I'm ever going to get on the podium in the Expert class, I need to get more aggressive.
Above: squeezing through keyhole wash.
My Santa Cruz Heckler felt fast on the downhills and was a bit of an anchor on the ups. I could have used my 20 lb hard-tale, but this course has gotten extremely rough over the years and 21 miles on a hard-tale just wouldn't have been fun.
All in all, a pretty good race - I felt great, just not particularly fast.
Final numbers: 21 miles, 2100 feet vertical in 1 hr 37 min. Good enough for 16th place out of 33.
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