Inspired...the best word I can muster to describe the physical, emotional, and mental toughness of the competitors that participated in the Double Down race this year.
The week leading up to race was an endurance test of my own, working over 160 hours in 8 consecutive days at the fire department, leaving me exhausted and way behind in the shop...retirement can't come too soon for me. The weather that filled those days consisted of on an off rain showers interspersed with bright, humid sunshine. I was a bit tense, worrying what the trail conditions would be Saturday morning, but a quick lap by Kevin and Dusty confirmed that the Knob proved to be a magical place again, offering up perfectly tacky trail conditions. I left the FD at 7am, took an hour nap, then headed out for the race.
I've been pushing the guys to bring back the character of VK to our races...the events had been circumnavigating some of the features that make this place so special. The "race course" has evolved into a fast, flowing trail that matches the evolution of current trail design for bigger wheels, less technical demands, and faster paces...leaving me feeling a little let down and a bit flat. I remember 20 years ago cutting in trails and building obstacles that scared the crap out of you, but kept you coming back again and again to try to clean the section. Thrown into a race and your anus was white and tight! The guys relented and we put the entire course into the mix for all racers, beginner to expert.
Despite gloomy skies, the race progressed with superb conditions for our beginner and sport riders allowing them to focus on taking on new technical challenges and pushing their endurance. Our experts, who were engaged in 6 laps of fast paced action, were not so lucky. The rain let loose on their last lap, turning our perfect conditions into a 1/4" layer of slick, nasty mud. Not to be deterred, some of the fastest laps logged took place in these horrible conditions.
Everyone finished safe and sound, with tired smiles and stories to share.
The energy of the knob is back and a whole new group of riders who never felt they could successfully ride the most difficult sections were born.
Steve rode away from the rest of the 39 and under expert class, riding in the zone and ending with a vacant stare. Tired but satisfied :)
Michael continues to progress in his field and finished with a face only his mother would kiss...
This is the look you get when you ask Jake to look up for a pic, and it's an effort that is almost too much to bear...
Kalten rocked out 6 laps on the single speed, tired, wet and muddy, but was the only 18 and under expert finisher.
After an exhaustive effort, the fetal position feels soooo good.
A "little" fella who decided that Kalten's sleeping pad was too comfy to pass up, Kalten had other ideas though and escorted him out...