Savannah Santa Marie at the Sonoma Coast State Beaches

This is Chapter 4 in my continuing sage of trying to get on the Sac CX podium. Last weekend I had two chances as there were races both Saturday and Sunday. My adventure really started on Thursday which was My Lady’s birthday and she was hoping for a trip to the Sonoma Coast. So, of course, she got one.  :>)) We left on Thursday and camped at Wrights Beach then home on Friday. Great fun! This did put my training off a little, I got in some trainer time but it was not what my coach had in mind.
Happy coach or happy GF? You do the math.

More Lembi grass. This is off camber grass.
Some fine Lembi grass.

Anyway Saturday the race was at Lembi Park in Folsom. It’s my favorite venue and course every year, lots of grass, a little paved, lots and lots of corners, many of which are off camber, a couple of run ups and a sand pit, which the course designer, Asa Salas, managed to take us thru twice this year. All-in-all it’s everything a California CX course should be. I started my Saturday by over sleeping. I hate that! I should have been there by 7:30 but I woke up at 7:44 and got to the venue by 8:01. I jumped right into my set up and MC duties out of breath and low on fuel. My coach keeps wanting me to get a longer warm up and I want that too but it’s hard with my other duties especially when I’m running late. I do get on my bike in time for one pre-lap but get back to the start line a little late, I didn’t miss my start but did miss my call up so I’m starting all the way at the back of my group, Men’s C 55+. It’s a struggle to make my way through the traffic on the course but I’m slowly picking away at my guys. Because I started way back I’m not sure what place I’m in I just know I’m moving up. A racer gets by me at the last barrier of the last race and I’m done. Back to announcing for the rest of the day.

Saturday’s theme was Zombie Cross

When I get a chance I head to the results screen to see how I did and guess what? That dude that got by me at the barriers was one of my competitors and he finished in 3rd less than 2 seconds ahead of me. Damn. So close; I didn’t know. Turns out I was only 21 seconds out of second. I have to feel good about the race with the bad starting position I put myself in. To do as well as I did is great but……………………..Damn, so close. OK back to work. I do my MC bit for the next 6 hours then help break the course down as we get ready to do it again on Sunday. I’m hoping to do better on Sunday. We will be racing at Folsom Rodeo arena.

Folsom Rodeo grounds is another great venue. It too has grass and pavement and even a little sand pit but it has more vertical and a lot more dirt, some almost single track. There will be a few more racers who choose a mountain bike for this course. I know my Grammo Paru will eat this course up just like it did the last one. This time I get enough sleep and get up in plenty of time. Breakfast and a leisurely trip to the venue. Set up goes well and I even get to my bike a little earlier than on Saturday. Front tire seems a little soft. Add a little air, turn around and “bang” it’s flat. I run tubeless but at this point all I can do is throw in a tube and go. Some much for extra time. Pre-lap then up to the start line. Missed the call up again but this time I have a chance to get up to the front line and get my spot. Yay!

We are off on the whistle. Early on lap 1 I’m riding in third, watching 1st and 2nd. 1st seems to be taking it easy. Humm. He hits some of that narrow, almost single track, takes off and 2nd just let’s him go. “Russ, we can’t let him go!!” Still no move. I get around when I can and now I’m in 2nd but first has a huge gap. The gap just keeps growing. Late 1st lap, Tom, another 55+er, catches me. I later learn that he has finished ahead of me the last few times we’ve raced. All I know at this point is we have a head to head going on for 2nd and 3rd. It’s a seesaw battle. I get him on some of the straights and climbs and he gets me in the barriers and corners. Back and froth we go. Lap 4 is the final lap. I’m a little ahead going into the last set of barriers, I want to get as big a gap as I can as I know he has an edge on me at the barriers. I open it up a little bit then have the worse remount of my day. Tom opens a big gap. Oh well, I’ve got 3rd, that’s the podium I started out the day wanting. But wait, Tom is slowing up a little and he’s behind another slower rider. Maybe there’s hope. I put the hammer down and go go go. I’m closing. We both get around the slower rider. 2 quick lefts and we are into the finishing straight. Tom looks over the wrong shoulder and doesn’t see me on his wheel as we make the last left. I dig deeper and get him at the finish line by .74 of a second. Yay!! SECOND place!! Man does it feel good. Now, of course, I want to podium again. Maybe I can get that 1st place guy in two weeks. We will see. Wish me luck. I’ll try to be ready. I know my Paru will be.

A Double Header Weekend

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