Startline… Anyone? Anyone?

March 18, 2008 · Print This Article

By Allie Burch
Novato, California

We are here. The race start is *way* over there –>

This was valuable information given to the three of us after an hour of hiking straight up the wrong single-track (with downhill bikes) on the wrong peak of a completely unmarked downhill course on the practice day before the race. Although the descent to the real start was pretty sweet, our little adventure had kinda done me in.

This was my first foray to the Keyesville Classic event.

The adventure started at 4:45 am on Friday with a 5 and a half hour drive to Keyesville. As the flat farmscape of I-5 droned on, it gave way to the flat farmscape of 46 then 99 into Bakersfield. A quick turn East on 174 was a welcomed change as it dropped out of the valley then climbed and twisted it’s way through the mountain pass along the Kern River up to Lake Isabella where the canyon opened up to an outdoor lover’s playground!

Once I arrived, I geared up and started pushing up the Snake pit course with Jackie and Dain. Fast, chundery sections to rocky singletrack, switchback to a rocky funnel…ok, these look fun, but where the hell does this thing start?!

We kept going and followed a singletrack straight up the most logical looking peak for a downhill course. Half an hour of hiking through soft sand later, we decided that there is no way this can be a start since there is no place to stage riders. Besides, we were the only one’s up there! We rode down and found the real start, which sent the rider down a fire road with a few rollers and a long flat section. Fine if you’re on a small travel bike, but on a 37 lb downhill sled?? Kill me now.

One of my goals for this race was to really look over lines and get somewhat creative. There was a group of rocks that looked like they could be ridden over as long as the rider threaded through the two boulders on either side. Jackie and I stopped to session this section and see just how possible this line was. I backed up and started my approach to the rock line, but slammed on my brakes before committing to riding it. By this time there were three other guys looking at the line as well. I dragged my bike up as was about to abandon the idea just as I heard Jackie say, “actually, I’d kinda like to see how that line is done.” I think she was talking to the guys, but what the hell. I backed up again and rared up to go…I’da made it too… but I got object fixation on the big flat rock wall right in front of me and smacked into it all “George of the Jungle” style. Of course after this the guys cleared it without a problem. I, on the other hand found an alternate line that I liked better anyway.

Saturday was the downhill race, a combined best time on the two courses. The first course, Dutch Flat, was best ridden on a hard tail. There were three rises that made a rider slugging a rolling couch want to puke, but all of a sudden the course got really fast. There were three of us in the pro class, two on downhill rigs, and one on a hard tail. Needless to say, Tiffany, who was on the hard tail enjoyed a few seconds advantage over us on the downhill bikes after the first run.

Time was more than made up, however on the second run where, even though the course had uphills and flats, the technical sections were easily floated over on 8” of suspension.

When the dust had settled and the results were in, Jackie and I had the fastest combined female times…exactly. We were in a dead tie for first. She was exactly one second faster than I on one of the courses, I was exactly one second faster on the other.

The final results had placed Jackie in first and me in second, the tie-breaker being the fastest down the second course. We clambored up on the podium and proclaimed our victory right as the snow started flying!! An isolated snowstorm came blowing through to cap off the awards.

Once the course was marked, and the race promoters set up and organized a bit, the event went really well and was a very fun event. I even met fellow Velo Bella roadie (and now MTB extraordinaire) Tracy Nelson at the downhill! (I can’t wait to read her writeup on this event!)

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