This last Sunday I drove down to Black Diamond, WA to check out the West Side MTB Series cross country race put on by SingleTrack Cycles and BuDu Racing . With the Pro XCT opener coming up this Saturday at Bonelli Park, CA, it was a good chance to wheel-up to the line at a fat tire race. The morning routine was familiar like any other early training day this year except there was sun poking through, always a welcome change. The drive took 20 minutes less than expected, so as I sat in the warm truck cab, looking around at the cold foggy morning and throngs of riders on their shiny new bikes, I thought to myself…back to the start of the rollercoaster. And I mean it in the literal sense of excitement, not to imply the figurative sense of anxiety. The end of the last rollercoaster ride was back in Mt. St. Anne at the World Championships last August, and I was eager to get back on…though the end of last year seemed a long ways away from West Side MTB #2 XC at Black Diamond, WA on Sunday morning.
It was refreshing to be back at a small, local off road event. There were some 40 or 50 riders all together in the expert/open class, and everybody started in waves. Singlespeeders first wave, 30-39 second, 40-49 third, 19-29 fourth. Since the course was 99% narrow, intestinous (awesome) singletrack, as illustrated by this MAP , there was some heavy traffic on the first of three laps. It was good practice in balancing (no pun intended) patience, polite etiquette and swift passing maneuvers. After the first lap I was in the clear and well in first place, so my goal was to ride each lap faster than the last, which was a good challenge due to the relentless turns, dips and slippery roots. I rolled to the finish after 90 minutes of racing feeling much more spry on the mountain bike than when I’d started, grabbed a banana, thanked the race promoter for a good event, and saw that a group of friends back in Seattle were gearing up for a ride at Duthie Hill , so I promptly jumped in the truck and spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the sun and tacky dirt. I’m glad this rollercoaster is off and flying already.