GoldState Round #1 at Vail Lake
The UCC/JW Floors mountain bike team participated in round 1 of the prestigious GoldState series. This is the premier race series in southern California with 7 races and 5 different venues. Round 1 was rescheduled due to rain, so this race, held at Vail Lake in Temecula on April 29, was actually the fourth race of the series. We competed on a fun and flowy 6.1 mile course with about 700 ft of elevation gain per lap. The team was again a dominant force, winning 6 first places, a 2nd, and two 3rd places. In total, 12 from our team competed. Team results summary is as follows:
Here is an individual race report from Steve Boyd (Cat 1, 50-54 Cross Country):
The race day was a little cooler and much windier than expected, with the wind right into your face for the start and the steady fire road climbs. The good part of this was that you had the wind at your back during the fast singletrack sections. This made for a fast race and some "yee-haw" moments for sure. During warm up I decided my strategy would be to start out and tuck in behind one or two of the leaders and follow to the 1st singletrack section, then jump around before hitting the singletrack. It turns out that everyone else in my class seemed to have that strategy because the start was very slow with no one wanting to take the lead. So after trying to let at least someone ahead of me, with no takers, I said fine and decided to turn up the pace and get to the single track as quickly as I could. After a couple hundred yards the course took a sharp left onto the 1st singletrack section and I came into it leading the pack. I knew the rider just behind me is not the fastest on technical sections so I turned it up a notch to try and get a gap going. This worked and I think everyone else behind him was held back a little as well.
All through the winding singletrack I kept it on full gas, and glancing behind me most of the time I could see no one. Coming out of the single track and heading up the 1st finger-valley into the wind I shifted into a high gear and stood up to try and increase the gap. I still felt I had plenty in the tank for the duration of the race and just hoped I wouldn't blow up in the last lap. At the end of the valley the trail direction U-turned to the downwind direction and the fast flowing single track fun was on! I could see what my lead was at this point so I used this opportunity to recover a little and increase the lead. This went on through the next lap and into the 3rd/final lap. The disadvantage of being out in front all alone the whole time was that I really had to work hard when heading into the wind, and it's also pretty difficult to judge your pace relative to your competitors. So coming into the final lap, 2nd place was not far behind and I was getting fatigued. Right past the finish line a wind gust really kicked up that was full of sand and dust - that didn't help.
I was starting to struggle now going into the wind, but knowing my position motivated me to push through it. I knew I just needed to get to the 2nd downwind singletrack section (a long one) with my lead and I could hold on from there. Then at the final and steepest climb right near the finish I hit the top with 2nd place just arriving at the base. I backed down a little at that point and rode on to the finish line still in 1st! This was my 1st Cat-1 MTB race win in the GoldState series, so I was quite happy with how things turned out
Ken Winston (50-59 Endurance):
I was coming off a disappointing result at the Moab Rocks Stage race where I broke a rear wheel on stage 2 and performed poorly on stage 3. Upon returning from Moab I caught a case of the flu, which affected my training as you might imagine. I was a bit concerned that I would not perform at my best. Come race morning I felt okay though.
The endurance racers of all categories start together and there was a dash off the line and up a gentle grade to the single track entrance. Racing into the wind, the field strung out quickly into a line. I locked on to 50-59 teammate Guy Sutton with Cesar Mora (Stonehaus Racing competing in 40-49 category) on my wheel. 30-39 teammate Chuy was second position a few riders ahead. The pace was fast but not extreme. Just before the singletrack entrance, I moved in front of Guy and Cesar jumped in front of both of us. We entered the singletrack in the top ten and the rest of the field gapped behind. We easily extended our gap as we moved quickly through the tight singletrack up and over the ridge, then back up again. Others in our age group were in the group that we gapped. Guy, Cesar, another rider (Stephane from the Open Men class) and I stayed together trading turns setting the pace for a blistering lap one (at least I thought so). I purposely slowed the pace at the beginning of lap two, wondering if the other 3 in our group would go around and resume the pace of lap one. I was pleased that this did not happen and our group stayed together. We continued on working well together for 3 laps. As we entered the “slingshot” singletrack, I was at the back of the group. The pace was too much for me and I watched Guy, Cesar, and Stephane slowly pull ahead, creating a gap of about 15 seconds.
At was at this point that I received some unexpected help. A gopher snake was moving across the singletrack and it caused Stephane at the head of the group to slam on his brakes in a panic and go over the bars blocking Cesar and Guy. By the time they got going again I was hitched back onto the back of the group and we started a tricky singletrack descent that I was riding quickly all day. The descent allowed me to recover enough to stay with the group for the remainder of lap 4. I ate an energy gel with caffeine and it did wonders. Stephane dropped off our group at the end of lap 4, eventually finishing several minutes back. I suppose the snake took its toll on him!
By lap 5 I was feeling good again, able to once again contribute to the pace. I was starting to believe I had a chance to at least stay with my teammate Guy to the finish. I was not concerned about Cesar because he was in the 40-49 category and not racing against me. As we started our 6th and last lap, Guy went to the front on a slow singletrack climb and I noticed I was not having trouble holding his wheel like I had on the previous two laps. Hope was rising! A few minutes later as we started to climb the tunnel of love fire road, Cesar went to the front and cranked up the pace. Both Guy and I held his wheel, but it hurt! Cesar had to complete 7 laps (since he is in a younger age group) but this was the last lap for me and Guy. I wondered how teammates should respond if neither could shake the other with the finish line approaching, which it was! We entered the final corner with Cesar, then me, then Guy all together. The last corner is very slow with patches of deep gravel making it imperative to corner very carefully. But after that corner was about 200 yards of open road to the line. My dilemma of how to approach the finish was solved in my mind by rationalizing that Guy just beat me soundly at the Moab Rocks stage race, so I should give 100% effort for the win. Lapped traffic just in front of us made it easier for me to get a jump on Guy for the 200 yard sprint. After 2 hours and 44 minutes of deadlocked racing, it came down to this! I sprinted to the line but did not feel anyone close to me. I think Guy conceded the win to be gracious, but he would not admit that. Third place in our category was 19 minutes back!