2018 Dirty 30 Race Report by Jeff Jacobson (aka JJ)
Dec 8 was the Quick n’ Dirty 30, an annual MTB race in Sycamore Canyon between Poway and Santee. The course has a couple of long fire road climbs and some fun technical single track. The Dirty 30 was one of my first races a couple of years ago. It started to rain during that race and the fire roads quickly turned to sticky mud that packed up my tires and drive train, which threw my chain, wrapping it around my rear derailleur and tearing it off, forcing a DNF. With that fond memory, I expected Saturday’s event to be cancelled due the heavy rains two days prior. Fortunately, the rangers had graded the roads earlier this year and brought in new sandy rain tolerant dirt. The conditions turned out to be phenomenal: a crisp, clear sunny morning with tacky hero dirt. Only one section of road had to be removed from the course due to mud.
I registered in the men’s open class and lined up with a group of almost 40 racers in my category, which had a mix of rider levels. At the start of our wave, a group of three riders jumped to the front and I pulled in behind them. I haven’t been seriously training since Sept, so I planned to not go out too hard and keep enough in the tank for a solid final lap. I knew the pace was too intense to keep up, but I didn’t want to fall behind the lead group. Fortunately, about half way through the first lap the pace slowed. After a bit, I went to front of the group on the fire road to take a turn pulling. The course turned up a trail climb and I looked back to find that I had gapped the lead group a bit and was sitting solo in first place. My heart rate was around where I wanted it to be, so I kept up my pace, mixing in with some of the riders from the wave ahead of ours. A rider I was following on the technical descent went over the bars on a steep rock drop and I was barely able to avoid running over him, but made sure he was OK before hammering on.
On lap two, there is a section of road that does a u-turn and doubles back so you can see how far ahead of other riders you are. I had a minute or more lead on the three riders I started out with, but there were now a few new riders between us. I questioned whether they were in our same category or were just some fast riders from the two-lap categories. Not taking any chances, I kept up my pace.
On the third lap I tried keep my momentum on some big rollers by coming into the climbs hot and sprinting out the saddle, but shifted too many gears at once and my chain slipped under the pressure and the jolt sent my calves cramping. Not wanting to mess up my lead, I settled into a steady pace on the climbs to ride through the cramps. Although my pace slowed by a minute on the final lap, I was able to pass several riders from other categories that the punchy course had taken its toll on and finished in first. Turns out that second place was a young rider that planned to hang back and try to attack on the last lap for the win, but fortunately I had just enough to hang on and keep the lead. Looking at his Strava profile, he’s been training over 300 miles a week, so I feel pretty good about my result. It was also nice to race my new Specialized S-Works Epic with Fox stepcast 120 fork, such a confidence inspiring machine.
2018 Dirty 30 Race Report by Ken Winston
Ten days ago I was resigned to being finished with my race season. But then my fellow 55+ teammates Jack and Randy said they planned to race the Dirty 30, so I didn’t want to be left out! I remembered that last year Pete Tholl (the Greg Fenton of mountain biking) battled it out with Johnny Omara for the win and the course was identical this year. So I used Strava and the posted 2017 results to set segment and lap time goals. After pre-riding 4 days before the event, my segment times were close but still slower than last year’s winners. I usually find another gear on race day so I was confident.
On race morning I learned that neither of last year’s winners had entered the 55+ open class (Johnny was recovering from surgery and Pete moved to the 40+ Expert class). This was both a relief and a disappointment. I still had teammates Jack Kairy and Randy Liechty to make it a tough race. JJ also warned me of Todd Brown, a rider for Pedal Industries.
The 55+ Open class started 30 seconds behind a large Sport class. After the start I immediately sprinted to the front. Within what felt like about one minute I came up on the back of the Sport Class racers. The back markers were all cooperative as I announced again and again and again “on your left”. Occasionally I heard a bit of distress happening behind me as riders struggled to get past each other without mishap. Jack turned out to be one of those riders as he had to dismount and run up the steep climb covered with Sport riders. For 20 minutes or so I continued to pick off riders that had started in prior waves and managed to avoid letting anyone pass me. I was keeping a challenging pace and high heart rate but I thought I could maintain the pace for the expected race duration of about 80 minutes. Up the first big climb and down the technical descent of Martha’s Grove, my race continued to go swimmingly, passing riders occasionally and no one passing me. At the bottom of the Cardiac Hill climb to complete lap 1 of 2, I saw Jack about 30 seconds behind me and no others from my class. Jack is a strong climber so I pushed hard up Cardiac to hold my lead.
The final lap continued to go well until I approached the bottom of the Martha’s Grove technical descent, when I came up to the rear wheel of Todd Brown. I passed him on the descent. But very soon afterward I was beginning the Cardiac hill climb to the finish when Todd was on my wheel. After a quick Q & A with him (as much as one can talk on the final climb of a race), he confirmed he was racing in my class. I suspected that he mistakenly started the race in a prior wave since I was certain no one had passed me and no one from our starting wave got in front of me. But in the case I was wrong, I had a race on my hands. The finish line was 5 minutes away!
Adrenaline allowed me to increase the pressure on the pedals as I settled into a rhythm at the bottom of Cardiac Hill. With about 2 minutes to go to reach the top of the climb and the finish line, I finally looked over my shoulder to see that Todd had dropped off my wheel. Relieved, I cruised into the win with a 25 second margin. Jack finished shortly afterward in 3rd and Randy finished 5th.
After analyzing my Garmin data, I managed to beat my goal lap times, which were faster than the winning times from 2017. Mission accomplished!
JJ and I both won a 6 pack of Stone IPA. JJ donated his to Jack!
Bryan Taylor finished 4th in the ultra-fast 40+ Expert class, losing to legends Tinker Juarez and Ned Overand. But Bryan’s two kids Alastair and Mhairi won the two cycling kits and a Bluetooth speaker in the raffle!
That wraps up a great season for the UCC/JW Floors mountain bike team. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!