Sycamore Canyon XC and Marathon - San Diego, California
Racers and Chasers Series
With two rocky,
technical downhills, some fast swooping singletrack and a couple fire road
climbs, that are mean but not brutally punishing, the Sycamore Canyon race near
San Diego is one of the best venues on the Racers and Chasers circuit.
The goal of the
Marathon class is to do as many laps as possible within a 3.5 hour period, so
in order to get a healthy dose of punishment, I signed up for the Men's Open
Marathon Class and raced it on my singlespeed.
To make matters a
little more challenging, unseasonably warm weather (80+ degrees) and a howling
Santa Ana wind made conditions drier than a popcorn fart. You could feel the
salt crust drying on you just standing around the parking lot, so staying
hydrated was an absolute must.
The first couple
hours went smooth as I settled into a comfortable pace letting fellow
singlespeeder Aaron Hauck ride a minute off the front of John Camerino and me.
After Aaron had bike issues, I slowly pulled away from my riding buddy John and
found myself in the lead riding alone...until the beginner race started.
timing was not on my side as I approached the gnarly, baby head boulder strewn
downhill just as the beginners were - to put it nicely -
"negotiating" their way down. Certain sections were apocalyptic, with
people skidding, sliding and crashing everywhere. After dodging the mayhem and
almost crashing a poor woman out of the race, I managed to work my way through
the beginner field.
With about an
hour left I arrived dead in the middle of Cramp City. It started as a little
niggling sensation, then all hell in my legs broke loose. Quads, hamstrings,
inner quads, you name it. All different muscles conspiring all at the same time
to bring my downfall. As I stood on the side of the trail stretching, the same
beginners who I passed on the downhill were passing me on the uphill, including
the woman who I nearly crashed. She gave me a well-deserved scolding and I
apologized again. Profusely.
After nearly four
hours in the saddle, the only obstacle between me and victory was going up
Cardiac Hill for the sixth time. Most every other day it wouldn't have been a
big issue, but on this day, my legs were severely compromised by those blasted
cramps. I barely lugged my carcass up and over Cardiac in my 34:19 gear,
pedaling ever so carefully as to not send one of my legs into full-on lockup
I crossed the
line first, taking the Men's Open Marathon win, but was humbled by some very
fit beginner racers in the process who dropped me cold up the final
All in all, a
great day for racing at a very fun venue. Thanks to Robert Herber and the
Racers and Chasers crew for another fun event. Looking back, the most fun of
the day I had was actually bombing downhill while dodging the beginner racers.
It was sketchy at times - I almost rode straight into a poison oak bush trying to
pass in a corner - but thankfully I didn't run out of talent and end up in a
heaping pile of wreckage.
3. Chad Walton
4. Ben Raymon
5. Jens Raz