A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Day at the Races

Here the come.

My son and I arrived at the staging area an hour before the start so that we could mill around and gawk. Initially it didn't seem like a large turnout but taking into consideration such short notice for the event and the absence of any real advertising in bike shops and such it seemed okay. The highest number I observed was just nearing 150. We could see ways everything could be improved but for the first race to be held in 20 plus years we felt they did a good job. As the riders meeting was going on we started down the track to our spot on Rough Go trail where the participants would be coming down in their final mile.

We spent a fair amount of time trying to scope out the most promising photo opt spot...meaning where most likely crashes would take place. Settled in, soon the first runners appeared. There was a 12-mile cross-country run which began after the bikers took off and their route ran up Rough Go. Rough Go is a steep uphill rocky grind and the first runner a mile into the race was a young woman surprisingly. Even more surprisingly was the fact that their were very few runners...only a few dozen. Hopefully this event will be held again next year with more publicity and many more participants as the ultimate benefactor from the proceeds is Annadel State Park.

After about an hour the first mountain biker began to appear coming down the rough rocky trail. These were those who did the "beginner's" loop of 9 miles. An hour later came those who did the intermediate route of 18.5 miles. Lastly after 3 hours of riding came the 25 milers. Of that group two or three rolled through and we found ourselves sitting there for the longest time wondering "Where are the rest?". That was it! Everyone rode the two shorter routes.

The two of us packed our gear and hiked on down the mountain. We were expecting something like what we experienced riding the Rockhopper back in '87...it wasn't like that. All the riders were stretched out from one another by the end of the trial so their was no real competitive effort towards then end which could of led to some good over the handlebars crashes. Most all were quite cautious through the rock garden. But we both felt that next year we'll do this. It's very low key and the only thing that would make it hard would be myself pushing my pace faster than I should. I'm looking forward to it as too is my son...I think.

          This is about as close one rider ever was to another.

Here is my chosen spot thinking something was bound to happen. The rock behind his rear wheel many riders were clipping with their right pedal. It was only a matter of time someone would get spun around and crash. Finally towards the end it happened. The poor fellow landed on the boulder in the lower left hand corner of the frame. I kid you not, I saw the boulder move.
This is him at an instant before striking the rock with his pedal. he crashed hard into the boulder in a cloud of dust. I jumped up and asked him if he was okay and he said yes. Naturally he was more embarrassed than anything else. He walked his bike 10 feet further to where my son was, checked his left hip and thigh out then carefully remounted and rode off...very slowly. Of course I didn't get a picture of him draped over the boulder and my son too missed the crashed. Afterwards we talked about it and I felt bad for planning for weeks to be at the right place at the right time for that perfect unique crash photograph, not thinking how seriously hurt the person could get. This guy must be very sore today.

A father/son team. I liked their matching outfits. They were taking it real slow and dad was very encouraging and supportive of his young son. They were having a good time.

This was the first woman through, no doubt doing the shorter course. I loved the streamers on her handlebars.
I really admire the women who take part in this sort of activity. This one here did the 18 mile route and you can see she is having a good time. I was surprised to not see that skinny little stick girl who plagued me those days when I first started preparing myself for this event back when I thought I was going to do it. I would have bet money on her.
Just before leaving for the day, I took a picture of the rock which caused problems for the riders. Notice the silver-like edge to it, that is aluminum left behind from all the pedals that connected with it.


  1. Whoa, your photos look so nice. Entertaining day at the races. I think you should go for it.

  2. I think that you and your son should RIP-UP that course next year!


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