The Louisville Short Track mountain bike race series kicked off tonight, and it was a total hoot. Seriously – if you’ve got a mountain bike in the garage, get out, pay your $8 and have a good time. I don’t care if you “don’t race bikes”, this was fun.
The intent, say the organizers, is to put on a series like the Portland Short Track Racing series – a laid back, open to all comers race series that focused on fun and getting people into the sport.
Late last night I threw some new tires purchased at Mountain Bike Depot (they sponsor this series) onto my Kona Smoke commuter/mountain bike and pulled out the clipless pedals (which, uh I had never used to trail ride with). A quick ride-check at lunch today and I figured I was a good as I’d be that day.
The Cat 3 (Beginner) dude’s race I was in had maybe 12-15 people. Everybody from Steven “WebGuy” from BikeClicks to an 11 year old from RedZone to the teenaged dude in the t-shirt on the crazy downhill bike that liked following *real close*.
I heard there was some early sass about guys wanting to bring cyclocross (imagine a road bike with fat, nobby tires) bikes out dominate all us mtb-ridin’ chumps, but in reality it was a pretty low-pressure affair and everybody was a gentleman. The course was pretty fast with some technical (tactical?) “anti-cyclocross-logs” thrown in. But to keep those CX fans attention, there was a nice muddy stream bit that most took with a hop and a skip. Some nice flats to chase down that dude in front of you, etc. Nicely varied. (Imagine this video from Portland, but with singletrack trails, less jumps and more trees)
They cut a serpentine swath through a thicket that made for a nice breather, and apparently I forgot about that sand pile on the last downhill turn and took a nice little header that lead to a dropped chain later on – but luckily it was behind some nice tall vegetation.
Results aren’t up yet, and I ain’t lookin for a podium or nothin’ but I know I wasn’t last – what I totally lack in obstacle and tight handling skills, I apparently partially make up with speed and power. And even then…in the end, ya know who won the race? An 11 year old. These kids these days! At least that’s what they tell me – I was probably a minute or 3 behind and heard the clapping from the depths of the thicket.
I made a nice attempt at pipping the dude in front of me at the end, but I was a 1/2 length short. Some might consider such an attempt ungentlemanly, but dammit I scrimped and saved that sprint.
So, in summary, for a guy like me with a little recreational mountain biking experience, but no serious race experience – much less a serious race bike, this was an excellent $8 spent. If you’ve got a MTB in the garage, dust it off and get out. It’s pretty damn fun.
PS – Did I mention they had a kid’s race? Yeah, they did and it was terribly cute. My money was on the little girl with the basket on the front of her bike, and she led out most of the race, but was beat by a length in the end. She told me “nice race” later on. Respect!
UPDATE: They’ve posted the final scores for the Race #1 (check ‘em out here) and I finished 11th out of 19. Solid middle of the pack and that’s all I really wanted anyway. Also worth reading is Love The Pain’s Short Track Report.
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