If You Haven't Rode the Beaver in a While, Its Pure Pleasure
What a great event hosted by great people! Little Beaver State Park has some great rocky trails that would be worth a special trip to ride there. They were wet and slippery, due to this monsoon season we've been experiencing, but that just makes it more technical and dangerous. If you can't ride this stuff there's only one cure - PRACTICE!
Hats off to Gary Moorefield for putting so much effort into making his local scene great. I'm not talking machine built smooth trails wide enough for a 4 wheeler, I'm talking raw hand-built lines through the rocks that challenge even the best of riders (especially in the wet). The trails flow so well, you know it was no accident. It takes scouting and walking and a whole lot of work. Gary said they have doubled the amount of singletrack in the Park since they started cutting trail in there. They now have 20 miles of rocky, gnarly, fun singletrack to ride close to home. I want to say that racing is great, but without trailbuilders like Gary, our courses would be some kind of lame fire road course that you could ride a cyclocross bike on. This is the real deal here at Little Beaver State Park and its one reason I'm so passionate about our trail program: we're making these areas better, one hour at a time.
Due to all the torrential rain we've been getting, the course was really slippery in spots. Especially on the second and third laps, after the whole race had gone through and dragged mud up onto every rock and root to make them icy. I felt like I couldn't even ride the first lap, heart beating out of my chest, couldn't catch my breath the whole time, squirrelly through some of the rock gardens. Then I came to the realization that I was trying too hard, and that I needed to SLOW DOWN TO GO FASTER. I started not trying to carry as much speed through the turns, so I wouldn't slide out of the slick roots and shoulder check a tree (again). I slowed down into some of the rock gardens (some I sped up for!) so I wouldn't skitter out of control and get hurt, and then powered through. I quit trying to race everybody else and just concentrated on having fun making it through one obstacle at a time. All of a sudden, by going a little slower in some sections, I was going faster overall. Revenge of the Rattlesnake is the same way, you are not going to ride that course as fast in the slick, you're just not. So you have to content yourself with gearing down and just trying to bang through it all.
I don't want to sound too competitive here, but there was a little bit of pride at stake too. These crazies with the rigid forks on their bikes ride them fast, I got to give credit where credit is due. But if you think I was gonna let some rigid feller stomp me on the rockiest (short) course we got, you got another thing coming. I had to remember how to ride first on the first lap, but once I got my groove on it was on. The first sign I saw was in the creeky section that put you in mind of the old 24 hours of Snowshoe course (oh yeah!) which coincidentally part of that was called Lower Beaver Dam. Now that race killed Laird's participation because it was too tough, especially with the rain that usually fell right before it. You could barely walk some of it it was so slick with the mud and roots, and sometimes you could walk faster than someone could ride. This creeky section was like that, luckily it was the slimy and sloppiest section, and you just had to get through it. Not sure if anyone made the 90 degree turn in the rocks, but if you did give yourself a little pat on the back.
I thought I was catchin Gunnar at the end. I saw a green and black jersey that says "Ride Like an Animal" on the back or something. I hate to tell you this Gunnar, but you will always be a mark, anytime I see him in a race it gives me a little charge. Unfortunately when I caught him on the last steep he looked back and saw me and turned it up to 110% and sprinted the rest of the way while I crawled up to the finish. Then getting to the finish I realized I had been a victim of the bait-and-switch, I had seen Gunnar at some points in the race (usually on an uphill), but this was Todd and Gunnar had finished ahead safely out of my heckling range. There's always next race Gunnar, and its longer!!! See you on the second lap at Big Bear(hopefully)!!