Friday, June 20, 2008
PIR MTB Short Track (and life history)
In my 2 years with Cyclisme, the Short Track MTB series at PIR has become one of my passions. In part because I love riding and racing mountain bikes, and in part because the short race format suits my strengths. Prior to 2004, I had not raced a bicycle since 1987. 1987 was a crit series we held on the campus of Fresno State University. It was a blast. These were my formative years as a cyclist (beyond the wannabe BMX racer of my youth). I took a frame building course at FSU, taught by a wonderful tall lanky cyclist/jeweler named Ron Blanton. Ron learned from necessity, to build frames to fit his tall yet injured and inflexible body. The frame and fork I completed (Tange Prestige Cromoly) I still ride today, as my winter training fixie.
I watched the Coors Classic stage at the Presidio, and other pro races as they came through California. I bought used Phil Wood hubs, and had Ambrosio tubulars and old Camp Record on my road bike. We would try and climb the steepest stuff in the Sierra Nevada foothills that we could. We sprinted for city signs on every ride. We strived (and did) to hit 50 MPH on the old Avocet computers bombing down from Pine Flat Reservoir.
Then, one of my buddies from the frame building course let us in on a deal with a small bike company called "Specialized", who had a new bike they called the "Stumpjumper". I could not afford one, but we rode every weekend, with me on my entry level Diamondback MTB. These were the years even before the purple anodized stuff came out. The original Stumpjumpers were a very cool muted orange color, like you might see on a sweet handcrafted rig today.
We transitioned into MTB rides 3 times a week at Squaw Leap, hard ups, steep single track downs, crashes, broken parts. I was hooked. I left Fresno for back home in Daly City, got a job in South City and a new RockHopper. We rode a lot; Mt. Tam and the Peninsula mainly. Parts were upgraded, then the bike was upgraded, the trails were plentiful and fast. I met Deirdre in San Francisco, and in 1993 we married. On our honeymoon ( a 2 month cross USA drive) we spent 2 days in Moab with some epic riding.
After moving to Portland in 1994 I landed with a new job, and stopped riding for the most part. I commuted to work in Clackamas at times, and did infrequent MTB rides, but nothing serious. I fell into bad habits, drank a lot, and let my health go to crap. I got revitalized in 2004, and decide to try cyclocross racing. I loved it, and my bike love started anew. I got back into the MTB racing with a few XC races (Reehers, Mudslinger, Skibowl), and was hooked again.
Over these years, I've learned that I do best in the short (<1.5 hour) races. The ShortTrack MTB and cyclocross suit my skills well. 30-60 minutes, starting by just absolutely pinning it to get the holeshot, and then going as hard as humanly possible to hang in and maintain handling skills.
Last year in the ShortTrack at PIR I won my first race, the final one of the series. Cyclisme swept the series podium for the Sport 40+ category. We all got bumped up to Expert by the organizer, and now Chris and Tony are racing with Yakima Bike Vigilantes.
Look at the photos above and below. We have a history at the ShortTrack, and it's a history of winning. Line up in front, and give every ounce to being the first one to enter the first turn.