In case you have only recently begun reading the drivel that spews from this blog, I recommend you start by reading my “Off-road Revival” series from the beginning: Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.
In particular, Part IV is most relevant to what I’m writing about right now. If you recall, about one month ago I went for a DH bike ride with Rafer, which produced some rather atypical images.
Those photographs were posted to Facebook and were subsequently brought to the attention of one Dan McGarry, the former MTB Captain of Stanford Cycling.
Dan and I were co-captains of SU Cycling for two seasons, with Dan coordinating the MTB team and myself coordinating the Road team. Dan was one of the most vocal proponents of collegiate mountain bike racing I’ve ever met, constantly pushing Stanford cyclists to take a walk on the knobby side. Having quit mountain bikes at the end of my Senior year in high school, I resisted Dan’s incessant nagging: “Rand, you gotta do just one race,” “Rand, I got every other roadie on the team to do a XC race, so now it’s your turn,” or “Rand, you’re such a sissy roadie.”
Over the course of four years, I sidestepped mountain bike racing in every way possible. I feigned illness, fabricated school projects that needed completion, and pretended to be out of town. However, Dan was tirelessly persistent, and I eventually exhausted all believable excuses. Realizing this, Dan redoubled his efforts, and confronted me at the end of a cycling team “officer’s meeting.”
In the heat of the moment, backed into a corner, I was aware that no ordinary excuse would suffice. I’m not proud of what I did to buy myself more time: I (sloppily) signed a contract guaranteeing my presence at one MTB race in the following season. I don’t recall exactly what I was thinking, but I doubt that I intended to honor my agreement at the time.
Dan kept that contract for the remainder of my college career, and when I failed to appear at a race before I graduated, he posted an image of the contract online so that I would be eternally discredited.
Now, I hadn’t spoken to Dan McGarry in nearly four years, but when he saw the pictures of my foray into the shin pad-wearing DH lifestyle, he took it as an opportunity to make me pay for my transgressions. In response to the Facebook photographs, Dan said, “Rand, I’ve registered a three-man team for the Boggs 8-hour race in April, but we need a third member.” I took the spot on a whim, without considering what I was getting myself into.
That’s how I found myself huddled in a two-man tent with Mr. McGarry at 6:45am on April 3rd, acutely aware of the sub-freezing temperatures, the muddy ground, and the fact that I was slated to start the race at 8am. It took all of my willpower to get out of my warm sleeping bag, strip down in the frigid morning air, and put on roughly four layers of Webcor kit (which was not nearly enough to stave off the cold).
Camping is often the sleeping arrangement of choice for mountain bike racers, but is almost never done by the road racing crowd; in fact, I’m almost certain the last time I went camping was at my last mountain bike race. Anyway, here’s our cozy tent that we had hastily assembled, in the dark, on the driest patch of dirt we could find. In reality, the ground was only “dry” because the water-soaked earth was frozen solid. Only in the morning did we realize that we were encroaching pretty heavily on our neighbor’s campsite, but we had no choice; Boggs was packed with fellow racers.
The Boggs 8-hour race is a mass start event, beginning with a long fireroad climb to the top of the course (which was replaced with a switchbacking, singletrack climb on subsequent laps). I barely remember the first lap–I was so cold and tired, my brain was operating at about 12%–but I do remember going way too fast up the opening fireroad, and being unable to shift or brake due to my frozen fingers. Before I knew it, my lap was over and I had tagged Dan to send him out into the forest.
The exchange area could best be described as a “clusterf*&k,” with bikes, bodies, spectators and dogs flying every which way. Somehow the photographs fail to convey the state of disarray.
In spite of the mayhem, the race was very well-run and the timing crew did an incredible job updating the overall standings every hour or so. I’ve never seen that kind of on-the-fly timing and scoring at a road race…just sayin’.
Dan, Matt Hale (another Stanford MTBer) and I switched off each lap in order to keep the day interesting and make the race as fun as possible; however, this strategy meant that we had to remain kitted up, hypothermic, and mud-soaked for the whole eight hours. Here’s my bike after the first lap of the day, while much of the mud was still frozen, and it doesn’t take much imagination to extrapolate the amount of sludge covering my poor KHS by the end of the day.
After all was said and done, we finished fifth of about fifty teams, which was a pretty good showing. Best of all, I finally repaid my off-road debt to Dan; I slept like a baby last night, probably because I now have a slightly less guilty conscience.
As a side note, I was entertained by the number of Copperopolis-avoiding P/1/2 roadies present at the race yesterday. I won’t blow anyone’s cover, but I counted roughly ten guys who ought to have been racing elsewhere (myself included). Aw…my bad dawg. However, if you consider the fact that guys like Jesse Moore and Phil Mooney were at the top of the results sheet at Copperopolis, it’s pretty clear that my energy was more well-spent at Boggs. I can’t compete with that.
Now, it would be nice if I hated the entire Boggs experience. Had I been entirely miserable, I could re-focus my attention on road racing and terminate this thread of “Off-road Revival” posts. However, I had a really good time in spite of the conditions and, with Sea Otter coming up in a few weeks, I’m tempted to enter the UCI XC race just so I can get obliterated by genuine Euro-Pro mountain bike racers…
P.S. Want to see what else is posted on Dan McGarry’s mountain bike racing site? Click here: Hahaha.