In the Fall of 2010, the Parkfield Classic became the first mountain bike race I ever participated in. One year later, the it became my first bike race since separating my shoulder in the Skyline mountain bike race (June 12, 2011). Since my shoulder is still not 100%, I decided before heading to the race that I would only ride in the cross country race with the goal of completing it without re-injuring my shoulder.
Saturday started with a chill in the air. I left the warmth of my sleeping bag a little before 7am to fire up the stove and make a hot cup of Yerba. The Yerba made the long, cold line for registration much more bearable.
As the sun crested the ridge, it quickly became apparent that the race was going to be hot… definitely no need for arm warmers. With the 8am start time fast approaching, the migration of riders to the start line began, and with minimal warm up the race began!
Last year’s race started with a quick lap of the short track course before heading up the first steep climb. This year skipped the short track lap and started with a hundred yard ride before everyone shouldered their bikes for the run up hill. Not 2 minutes into the race and my legs were already screaming. The pack exploded at the top of the hill as people’s ability to quickly mount their bike proved to be as much of a challenge as running up the hill itself. I was very happy to have a little experience with the cyclocross mount as it helped me pick up a few places several times throughout the race.
Once back on the bikes, we were off down the fire roads. A few rolling hills before tearing down some single track back into the valley. Several of us missed the turn at the bottom and ended up on the wrong side of a dry creek. Some stopped and carried their bikes over the ravine, while the rest of us found a path we could ride across on.
With the initial adrenaline rush now wearing off, and the lack of a good warm up taking its toll on my legs, my mind shifted back to my shoulder. I had made it out to the trails a hand full of times before this race, and the shoulder had felt good. Unfortunately, the crash had also taken a toll on my confidence in my bike handling skills. As the trail narrowed, and the consequence of a fall increased, my mind got the better of me and I slowed down.
As the trail opened up, we made the hard left turn onto the main climb. The trail was exposed and the sun had begun to really beat down. I was hot and the climb didn’t seem to want to end. Every turn reviled a new incline. Then, another hike-a-bike climb. Nobody ran this one…
When the summit finally showed itself, we made a quick descent back into the valley. As I blazed into a clearing I saw a pack of horses tearing through a field as if they were taking part in their own Parkfield Classic. The course was now following dirt farm roads. It was flat and strait, so I hopped on the wheel of the guy in front of me and drafted to the next climb. It was a much appreciated break.
Rounding the corner to the final climb, we spooked a couple of cows that fortunately jumped out of the way rather than running into us. Part way up the climb, I heard shouting from familiar voices. Rob and Stephen J. were standing there giving some much needed support… I pedaled on and began the descent to the finish.
With the finish came much needed water and food. I had no idea where I had placed, but it didn’t matter. I had completed the 15 mile course without re-injuring my shoulder… I consider that a win. Now it was time to clean up, and cheer for all my teammates as they competed in the rest of the weekend’s events.