Sunday, April 10, 2011

Budu #4: Cookin in the Kettles, Ft. Ebey State Park

While Olympia was enduring yet another spring deluge, sun crept through the trees at Ft. Ebey State Park. Shadowed from the nasty March weather by the Olympic mountains to the west, the Cookin in the Kettles race is the high point of the spring racing season; it's longer, technically and physically demanding, scenic, sometimes ridiculously fun, sometimes demoralizing, and for last three years, completely rain and mud-free.  Too bad the same couldn't be said for the Sandy Ridge Spring Brake SD, where Lee, Todd, Derik, and Luke (and their bikes) were getting mud-baths.

Rachel, Dave, Brian, Ann, and Mike, along with fellow Cap riders Nancy and Lito headed up on Friday to nab three primo campsites, and get an early start on the beer.  I showed up midafternoon Saturday to find the campsites deserted.  I figured everyone must be out pre-riding so I hopped on my new Norco Faze 1 and hoped to catch them on the trail.  Unfortunately, the course wasn't marked, so I ended up tooling around on random trails and hoping that at some point that I'd run into course markings, which I never did. Once I gave up trying to find the course and everyone else, I settled back and enjoyed the mercifully dry trails.  I met up with everyone else back at camp; they had a printed map of the course and managed to pre-ride most of it.  Luckily I had raced this course twice before so I had an idea of the pain that would be in store for me the following morning.

Race day was rain free but cold and windy, a discomfort that was quickly alleviated about five minutes into the race.  I told myself to shoot for a good position at the start but not to push it, as there was 14 miles and around 3000 feet of climbing to do.  The course started with a fast downhill plunge and then a short steep rooty climb; this was a sample of what the rest of the course would be like.  The first third was sections of root-filled climbs, some sections of fast double-track descents and a few sharp switchback singletrack descents.  Keeping one eye on the upcoming trail was crucial, as many of these descents abruptly ended in steep climbs that could easily catch riders in the wrong gear.  The middle section of the course twisted through some dense salal and alter and then turned back into the forest for the first section of switchback climbs.  The second section of switchback climbs was what I had been dreading the entire race; it switchbacked up a sandy bluff that sapped my energy in the previous races, but this year I climbed up it relatively painlessly.  I don't know if it was improved fitness, better conditions, or less Elijah Craig the night before, but I was pretty stoked!  I didn't to loose position the first lap and on my second lap I managed to reel in two women I had been chasing most of the first lap.  Come to find out they weren't even in my age category, but that didn't stop my from grinning ear to ear once I crossed the finish line, quite unlike my barrage of profanity after the Black Diamond race.

After the race, we headed over to Port Townsend for some delicious happy hour beer and food and took the scenic way back along Highway 101.  What a great weekend of sick racing and good friends!

Beginner Women 30-39
Dani Vergara, 4th

Sport Women 30-39
Erin Roe, 3rd
Courtney Anderson, DNF (mechanical)

Sport Men 30-39
Brian Mitchell, 12th
Edward Vergara, ??? (no time posted)

Sport Men 50+
Dave Snyder, 9th

Clydesdale Men
Mike Scholl, 7th

OOA Sisters
Ann Mitchell, 2nd, Sport Women 30-39, Karen Metcalfe, 3rd, Sport Women 50+

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