Thursday, July 01, 2004

BAFE Race Report

The Bring a Friend Event is back at Birch. I'd forgotten how superior the riding is there. I think over the last year I've been trying to convince myself that there are other places to ride in Manitoba that are equally as good, but that's just not the case. Birch can throw so many different things at you--rolling, twisty singletrack, technical switchbacks, steep climbs, and longer, more gradual uphills for the roadies--that it makes racing there so much more interesting. Sadly, I was unable to find a friend to bring along with me. With the MCC ride also going on, as well as kids' birthdays, not to mention the standard run-of-the-mill apathy, nobody was available to cash in on the free opportunity to experience the thrill mtb racing. Or maybe it's the condescending attitude. Hopefully next year will be different. We need to start working at FGBC representation. What has the director of outreach been up to lately anyway? Happily, hopalong Hal came along, which made the whole event more enjoyable than it would otherwise have been. I especially appreciated he encouragement on my first trip up the lung-busting double camel climb, as well as his seeming approval of my off-the-bike descending technique on Chizzlers.

I wasn't expecting to do very well, since I hadn't raced at Birch before, and since it is more technical than the mtb racing I've done so far this season. But I ended up finishing a surprising 3rd. The new handlebars again deserve credit for some of that. I just feel like I ride more confidently now than I did when I was worried about running into trees all the time. Funny why it should work out like that. I think this is the first time I've completed an entire mtb race where I haven't come off the bike unintentionally. Hopefully that's a trend that will continue. But I was also able to maintain a more consistent pace than many of the others, who seemed to fade badly on the second lap. I think all the road riding, and especially the time trials I've been doing, are a big help there. While I'm hardly a climber, it is usually the hills where I'll make up time on the competition--though that likely says more about the competition than me. But in any case, all the climbing at Birch worked our to my advantage. About 3/4 of the way through the first lap, I started catching more and more people, and when I started passing those who usually beat me, that was a big-time confidence boost. I still finished 5 minutes back of Kevin B, so there's still lots of room to improve. Among other things, I need to work on starting faster off the line. But at this point, I'm just happy to see some better results. I'm sure things will look different at Falcon Lake, where the riding will be more technical.

Go to the Birch Club site for full results and pictures. Hal also took some pictures, which may appear on the Tinker Creek site.

Tinker Creek had a good overall performance: finishing 2nd and 3rd in 30+ sport; 1st, 3rd, and 4th in 40+ sport; 2nd and 3rd in Senior sport; and 1st in Junior sport.

We will have to take up Mr. Hudson and organize some sort of ride so that those FGBC folks who haven't yet experienced Birch can get in on the fun. Just ask the Duke how great it is. Darryl, you might have to take the lead on that, since you see Mr. Hudson regularly--unless Luke wants to step up to the plate.

The TdF starts in just two more days. Is anyone finally going to dethrone that Armstrong guy? Six in a row somehow just seems to exist on a different metaphysical plane. Not even Unger's Habs could get there. It's going to be a wild three week ride. We'll have to get together for some early-morning yerba fuelled fun for some of the more definitive stages. Just so you don't get caught off guard, you might want to start booking time off for July 16, 17, 20-22, and 24. But the the most important of all, and easily worthy of a sick day, is the Alpe d'Huez uphill time trial on July 21: 1130 m of climbing in just 15.5 kms could well decide the Tour. It's almost as exciting as those stickers Marls keeps talking about.

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