Monday, May 22, 2006

RACE REPORT: 2006 Pine Nut Cracker

Zon and I got up early Saturday morning to drive over the Sierras to compete in Alta Alpina's Pine Nut Cracker race. Our two hour drive was well worth it. It was a beautiful day for a race in a beautiful place for a race.

Sierras From Gardnerville

We got there early and hoped to register one class up to make up for the short course. (Un)fortunately, this was a NORBA event and they couldn't allow us to race out of class without a bunch of paperwork, which turned out to be a good thing. The course looked short but was actually pretty challenging. The race was well organized with easy registration, a band and even a cookout with the largest burgers I had every eaten after the race.

The race drew about 60 riders in varying categories, with a strong showing in the expert and ladies classes. The course differed depending on racing class, varying length from 12 to 26 miles. As courses go, it was the standard "climb up the mountain, come flying down the backside, repeat if necessary" variety. A beginning/ending on fireroads/asphalt that led to the mountain loop. As I was pedaling the course, I couldn't believe that the elevation profile that they had posted could be correct. The profile showed a slow, steady 1000' climb over about 7 miles. However on the course, it was a series of 100' climbs with 50' gullies . . . that went on forever. After the race, my GPS elevation profile looked exactly like theirs.

My race went pretty well. I got out fast in the mass start, setting up with the front section of people. I didn't judge anyone to by in my age group, so I settled in with them. Though I had trouble keeping with the quick pace on the asphalt/fireroad lead to the loop, I caught up with everyone on the mountain singletrack. The altitude (5000+) was killing me, all my races this year have been near sea level. The gullies played to my weight, as I could blast down them and up almost the entire next hill before repeating. By the time we got to about 5750', I was primed to pass the last two people ahead of me. Knowing that I could downhill well on my ride (I was the only one of the group with dual suspension) I took my chances near the top, spending most of my energy to pass the last two people in front of me. I think I did it at about the perfect time, as 100' beyond that point it turned to straight downhill. I ripped down the singletrack, swooping through the whoops and berms hitting a consistent 30 MPH on the straightaways. I never saw anyone in my class again, but about go ran over twice by Experts on their lap. I cruised into the finish -- just to find out someone had slipped out in the front of us and beat me. Crap. Oh well, second place was still nice (and I hope it qualifies me for Nationals).

Pine Nut Cracker Finish

Zon also had a good race. He did a slightly longer track and was able to keep his leader in sight all the way to the final asphalt returns but got outsprinted to the finish.

After the race, the organizers had a band, extremely large hamburgers and winner PAYOUTS! Zon and I actually made $10 for our second place finishes. Wow, that is definately the first time I have actually made money riding.

The next race in the 2006 Northern Nevada Cup is June 3rd at the Peavine Challenge in Reno, NV.

UPDATE (05/22/06): The results are in. They are posted here in PDF.

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