Although it was the last race in this seasons CA mountain bike series, it was Peter Dixon and I’s first time racing mountain bikes. Not as early as the low category road races, we were treated to a 2 mile climb to get to the starting line by 10 am. This climb warmed up the legs nicely and gave a preview of the fire road climbing that started the race.
There were many different racing categories staging at the start line, beginning juniors all the way to senior men and women. Peter and I started in the first wave with about 10-12 other Category 3 men. People went hard from the start with my heart rate quickly climbing towards my top end. It didn’t take long for that pace to drop nearly everyone. A few of us remained at the front but gaps of several seconds opened and we were mainly racing on our own. The twists and turns of the course always gave you a glimpse of the riders ahead and behind.
Eventually, the fire road turned to single track as we wound our way back downhill. The trails were flowing and allowed for significant speed to be carried throughout. As I saw Peter pedaling off into the distance I came upon a group of young riders that was tricky to pass. This forced me to slow down and be caught by 2 fellow Cat 3 racers. We eventually did pass the young riders and continued our way down the descent. The pressure from the two riders behind me made me less confident on some of the technical sections that we were encountering. So I let them pass by and went my own pace.
Coming to the bottom of the single track, we navigated a fence with just enough width for my handlebars. Then it was a sprint (more of an individual time trial) on a road back to the base of the ski resort and the finish line. Peter crossed the line first with a time of 1:04:35 and I wasn’t too far behind, finishing in 1:06:02. It was a fun race and a great introduction to the mountain bike racing scene. I don’t think I will be able to stay away from the Big Bear trails for long.