Kenda Cup West #5, Santa Barbara Bike Fest

This one is my favorite:

And it comes with this:

Mmm mmm mmm. The view from that middle box is a nice treat. Winning The Elings Park race of the Kenda Cup this weekend was a great feeling. A lot of work goes into making those two hours of a race come out well. There is so much that can happen, with or without your control. Equipment, food, training,  family, work…  But that’s not news for anyone. I’m just basking a little.

Sunday morning we loaded the car and made the 3 h drive in just 4 hours, what with all the stops for me and my kid to take a pee. We must share the same bladder.

Got to the venue under a cloudy sky, my favorite! The park is right on the coast, but it was pretty warm at 11am. I still had plenty of time to scout the course and do a lap before my race. Good thing, too,as there was a lot of twisty singletrack with a couple of surprise turns on the descents hiding in the grass. The stutter bumps going into some of the steeper turns were really really brutal, too. Otherwise, the trail was smooth, fast, and flowee. I added 10psi to the fork and opened up the rebound a little so I could hit the descents hotter. This was gonna be fast.

30 minutes before the start and the cloud cover broke, unleashing a hellfire sun to cook us like tandoori chicken.

2 minutes. Count the riders, face check.

1 minute. Check what gear I’m in. Breath.

30 seconds. Right pedal up. Grab the brakes. Weight forward.  Why do I do this? Visualize.

Release. Everything goes away.

Grab a great start and gap the field going into the dirt. Back off a little. It’s gonna be two long hours. Where’s Garry? Look back to see his wheels on mine and the pack lined up. Climbing now. The hot stiffness of hard effort. Let him pass, recover, let him pace and keep close. We get a small gap on the group and I work like hell to stay on Garry’s wheel. Dude’s pretty fast in singletrack and were sliding skid turns through the tight descent. Up through the flowy section he’s starting to gap me. Stay smooth. Catch back on. It’s a good pace, the podium’s a lock if you keep it.

Garry grabs a gap on me. Outta sight in a heartbeat and I’m hurting from that start. Recover recover recover so I can catch him on the next climb. I see him up there. Keep him in sight. Count seconds at the yellow bush. He’s got a minute gap on me going into lap two and I’m thinking it’s a race for 2nd. Then I see him at the turnaround and I see his face. Pain. I get hungry again and push a little harder.

The third and fourth place guys are seconds behind. Maybe 30 feet back, trading places with each other, both coming for me. They aren’t gaining but neither am I. I’m faster here, they’re faster there. Always back there and I can’t break free.

Then I see him. Garry’s 50 yards away as we come out to a long smooth climb. Shit, I’m going. I’ll see you two later. I almost catch his wheel before we descend again. It’s right there, but then we make the left to descend again and he gets in front of the lapped traffic just at the descent and I’m stuck behind. Come on Come on Come on. Stay cool.

“that’s my guy up there, whenever you can”

A spot opens up, “Get that Fucker!” he yells as I come around. He lets me through and I hit those stutter bumps like a motherfuckn riot. Damn good thing I stiffened up that fork. Teeth clenched, knuckles white, growling from the insanity. Try to stay loose, but I think I’m gonna shake to pieces down that thing.

How does my bike not just fall apart and my bars not snap or my rotors not shear off? These are the things I contemplate as I’m descending faster than I should. “I have to do that section 3 more times?”

Climbing up the purgatory of that long road back to start it all over again, I catch Garry. Not looking good, it turns out he’s been sick all week and will eventually dnf on the day. Honestly, it’s probably the only way I’m gonna catch that guy so… I’ll take it!

“Ooh, I’m in 1st place now”

“Oh shit, I’m in 1st place now. I have two more laps to go, don’t fuck this up, smooooth”

So the next two laps are pretty much the same hellbound sufferfest of fun as the first two. Only, mentally, a whole lot more stressful now. The mentality of chasing is a whole lot different than the mentality of staying off the front. When you are chasing in a mtb race, your goal set is easy; catch the guy in front of you. Carrying it out might be a little harder, but the goal is simple.

But when no one is in front of me, well, how fast should I be going? Gotta keep my gap but I don’t want to take too many risks. What if I flat? Are the guys behind me gaining? All I have to do is drop my chain once and number 2 is gonna close that gap…. and on and on for two long laps.

Fantastic. So much drama. I claim to hate it but I fucking love it.

Anyway, I’m really windbagging this post. Like I said earlier, basking.

Look behind me. Zip up the jersey. Roll through the line. It hurts to stand.

Spend 4 hours in a car while my wife graciously drives us home and my daughter sleeps.

ciao

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5 Responses to “Kenda Cup West #5, Santa Barbara Bike Fest”

  1. SO RAD! Congrats dude, the write up was awesome too. Now you gotta keep getting on the top spot from now on, that wont be too hard right?

  2. Great write up , I was testing the epic camera, so light I forgot I was wearing it. I hope you get on the box again, it takes a lot of work to make it happen. I just want to finish the cup, so I can concentrate on the Nationals
    for U23.

    cya at the bear.

  3. gochuygo Says:

    Congratulations Ben! Keep ’em coming! Great Report!

  4. sick report… congrats dude!

  5. […] Bencycle’s Velorution I like to ride bicycles. « Kenda Cup West #5, Santa Barbara Bike Fest […]

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