Thursday, July 7, 2011

Indie Series #3: Methow Valley

Relaxing after the race

Last year, Courtney and I were the sole representation of GL6 at the Methow Valley Cycle and Sport Mountain Challenge, but this year GL6 and friends swarmed the Loup Loup campground for the event and for a few days of excellent Methow Valley riding.  The Methow Valley is one of my favorite places, so much so that I came out a day earlier than everyone else to secure us some good spots at the Loup Loup campground and get some riding in before the race.  I opted to ride the Twisp River trail instead of pre-riding the course, mostly because I knew the pain and suffering that awaited me on race day and had no desire to experience it more than once when there were so many other awesome riding options.  Even though the ride involved some unexpected washouts, I'm still glad that I did it, and when I got back, everyone else had shown up and was setting up camp.  We headed down to the Twisp River Pub for a pre-race meal, ate some s'mores, and settled in for a chilly night; it's cold at 4020 feet at night!

Reuben smoking the competition
We woke up on race day to a cloudy sky and mild temperatures - perfect conditions for a race with lots of exposed steep climbs.  The climbs began at the start line and barely relented for 3-4 miles.  Occasionally, riders were teased with a short downhill only to round a corner and look up, up, up to see another string of lung-busting dusty switchbacks.  My favorite section of the course was the Bear Mountain trail, a few miles of rocky, sometimes steep, singletrack that kept riders on their toes going up and down.  This dumped out onto a long section of fire road that connected back to the trail with another climb, then a white-knuckle descent down XC ski trails and fire road.  While not technical, the gravelly doubletrack threatened a washout around each turn; it was like riding on ball bearings.  After crossing the road the course shot back up to the ski area and thankfully, the finish line.  Despite being only 13 miles (for the sport class) this is definitely one of the more challenging XC races.  Lee and Kyle had to do another lap, and on single speeds no less!!  Unfortunately, Theresa had a bad crash near the top of the climb, breaking her helmet in three places, giving her a concussion, and ending her race.  And she didn't even get to enjoy the fun parts of the trail  =(
Theresa's broken helmet

GL6 was a presence on the podium at this race, with me taking 3rd place in the Sport Women 19-34 category (and shaving a full 19 minutes off last year's time) and Reuben scoring a second 2nd place podium in the competitive Sport Men 19-34.  He was only 22 seconds out of first and probably would have had the top spot if his cleat hadn't come loose halfway through the race.  We went back to camp and enjoyed an epic campfire cookout that lasted well into the night, and somehow found the energy the next morning to ride the ultra-scenic Buck Mountain trail.  If you haven't been to the Methow Valley, I highly recommend checking it out!!!

Reuben on the podium
Erin on the podium
Reuben Andrews, 2nd, Sport Men 19-34
Erin Roe, 3rd, Sport Women 19-34
Kyle Curtin, 5th, Expert Singlespeed
Lee Peterson, 7th, Expert Singlespeed
John Curtin, 9th, Sport Men 45+
Lito Alamazora, 10th, Sport Men 45+
Nancy Gilbert, 5th, Beginner Women 19+
Theresa Nation, DNF (crash)

post-race campfire

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