Sunday, June 20, 2010

Race Day at Duthie Hill

Yesterday was officially declared race day. Ian and I did battle at the kickoff race for the spanking new Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park. First race ever held at this very fun facility, so maybe we're now part of history - mountain bike history that is.

We hit Duthie Hill last weekend for some exploring and trail recon for the race. After seeing the trails, we were looking forward to racing on 'em, and so we did.

The race was part of the Subway Washington Games and benefited the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance - some of the folks who put Duthie Hill Park on the map. They deserve some support after all the work they do, keeping local mountain bikers happy.

Ian's race kicked off at 9:00 AM, good and early. We were out of the house with enough time to allow for the usual pre-race festivities - breakfast, drive over, unload bikes, register and warm up a bit. Weather was in the 50s and damp, with a few sprinkles thrown in, but no real rain. Great racing weather, but maybe not so great for spectating.

Ian turns 11 next month, so he raced in the Junior Boys 11 - 14 age bracket for this race - first time with the "big boys". I also didn't follow behind, as I have for the last two seasons of racing in the 10 and Under class. Ah, they grow up so fast.

Boys and girls, aged 11 - 14, scheduled to race 5 miles, two 2.5 mile laps. The younger kids, 10 and under, do half that - so one lap at 2.5 miles. After scoping the place out last weekend, I had no reservations about sending Ian out to race on his own. Impossible to get lost and easy to reach in case of flat or crash. I popped his cell phone in the Camelback for emergency use. No real worries, but of course I was a little nervous while he was out there.

Ian stares me down from the center of the start line. Nice turnout of kids for this race, always great to see, since they're the future of this sport. Kid on Ian's left, Scott, is insanely fast for an 11 year old. We know Scott from the Indie Series over the previous two seasons. Not to spoil the ending, but he easily won this race as well - no contest.

I recognized this kid, Aaron, from the Indie Series as well.

A few racers from the Boys 10 and Under class. Kid in green rounds the last corner for the win.

Scott powers his way to a win in the 11-14 class. Looking good.

Young girl hitting the course with the boys. Always cool to see girls racing, sport needs more of 'em.

Ian out on the course. Go Ian go.

Ian comes around for the last lap. The new bike I built up for him has been working out super - even better then I expected.

Post race drink, courtesy of free PowerAde given away at the race. Ian finished back of the pack in this race, something like 14th place of 16 racers. He's only been on the bike a few times this spring, so a little out of practice. Plus, both his shoelaces came untied during the race, requiring a stop to untangle and tie 'em back up - whoops. I honestly could care less what place he scores, as long he had fun, didn't get hurt, and it remains a positive experience. After the race, he asked when is the next one - so all is good in Race Land.

Short video clip of Ian in action. I've had hit and miss results of posting video directly to Blogger, so giving Vimeo a shot. Take a gander.....

Untitled from Dan O on Vimeo.

Later in the afternoon, I was scheduled to race in the Mens 45+ Sport class. Race is a relative term, at least when I'm on the course. I'm slow - not being modest here - if I can finish anywhere in the middle of the pack, I'm doing better then usual. I've been dragging for weeks with work, home and other family festivities - combined with riding quite a bit. I'm just not recovering or resting enough. Simple fact. Oh, and I'm getting old - can't forget that.

While I was warming up, I knew I was in trouble. I had nada, zilch, absolutely nothing in my legs. It's gonna be a long afternoon. I could have bailed, but went for it anyway and headed to the start line. We were scheduled for three 5 mile laps - so 15 miles total. Start line official mentioned they would stop recording times after 2 hours. Lucky for me, that little bit of info stuck in my defective brain for later use. On the start line, about 16 guys in the 45+ class, with another few in the 55+ class to leave with us - but scored separately. Behind us, Sport class women ready to rock after a minute interval.

Boom, well maybe a shuffled boom, and we all pull away from the line. I'm already off the back as we complete the gravel road drag race to the singletrack entrance. I catch up in the singletrack section and hang on to the pack for a short distance - remember passing one dude - then I'm dropped for good. Race now turns into a solitary time trial grind through the woods. I see no one except for a few women racers who catch and pass me later in the race. On my last lap, some Expert level dudes come up behind, warming up for their race. They politely hang back, until I let 'em pass - with them thanking me and offering encouragement.

I only race occasionally, so you almost forget how painful it is. Yeah, it's fun - in a sick twisted way - but make no mistake, it hurts. If you've never raced, but think your "training rides" are hard, it's not the same until you pin on a number and really race. Trust me on that. Give it a try.

The Duthie Hill course was big fun - lots of singletrack, a few short steep climbs, and a gravel road or two. There's really no rest though, even on the descents, due to the technical singletrack. By the third lap, I felt like pummeled dog food and couldn't wait to finish. By now I was crawling a stupid, slow pace. Finish line, where are you?

As I was limping along in survival mode, overheard the race announcer through the woods, mentioning someone crossing the line at one hour and something minutes. I glance at my watch and resolve to finish before the two hour cut off, fried legs and burning lower back be damned.

I crank it up a bit and rail the last singletrack section, then pop out into the clearing and cross the line in one hour and forty seven minutes. A pitifully slow time, but a personal victory for me. Out of the twelve 45+ Sport racers posted on the results, I come in 12th place. Lame, I know.

I don't know how many DNF'd or missed the cut off - maybe none. In any case, for how crappy I felt, I'm glad I finished and pushed it a bit at the end - even in my toasted state. I'm not complaining and still looking forward to the next race. Yeah, I guess I'm loopy. Pay $30 to get pummeled and come in dead last. And I wanna do it again - soon.

Race featured some great singletrack. Here I'm sampling a section and pondering why I race.

Cruising around for yet another lap of fun, frolicking and pain.

Video proof of me in action. Ian pulling off a nice job manning the camera......

Duthie Hill Race from Dan O on Vimeo.

As a side note, the 29er experiment continues, and the new Sette Razzo 29er worked great on the course. The stinging lower back did remind me however, that a hardtail it is, despite the 29 inch rear wheel. Overall, it felt just fine, thank you. The RockShox Reba SL fork works fantastic. The Kenda Small Block 8 tires continue to impress. With that tread pattern, you'd think they would slide everywhere, not the case - and they roll really well. The Razzo, complete bike at $1200 is a screaming deal.

One last video clip. Some Expert level dudes rocking a sketchy section of singletrack. Pictures lie a bit - it's steeper then it looks.....

Duthie Hill Race - Expert Class from Dan O on Vimeo.

Overall, even though Ian and I both got our asses kicked - we had a great time. Stopping at our favorite Mexican place on the way home was an added bonus. Awesome father/son day out.

Also have to mention how well this race was run. Everything went off on time, race results posted in minutes. Race fee included a t-shirt, PowerAde, Clif Bars, and bottled water. Medals for the kid racers, no matter what place they scored. Food and beer also available for purchase. Great job all around.

Like father, like son. Cool, eh?

And with that - adios. Thanks for reading. Now go find a race to enter and create your own story.


  1. Good post, and this proves that you don't have to win to have a great time. It seems we always wonder about our Sanity right after a bike race, wonder why that is, and we're always ready to do it again, yep it's crazy. Give Ian a thumbs up for me.

  2. Good for Ian, good for dad. Good post. Good fun. And you are so right, get in a race and feel pain levels you could never push yourself to with out the race. It's good training for my old carcass.

  3. Thanks for checking out the post and nice comments.

    You don't have to win to have fun and challenge yourself. If that was the case, why bother racing - especially me! I did ride pretty bad that day, was just toast for some reason. Even so, I did finish and was never lapped - but finished minutes out of the running.

    A lame race result, but compared to the average 49 year old dude - pummeling yourself on singletrack for over an hour at race speeds - still ain't too shabby. That's how I look at it anyway. Plus I dig the whole scene and vibe of a race. Fun stuff.

    As far as Ian is concerned - it's all good. Have fun, don't get hurt, do the best you can, it's all for fun.

    I'd hope he have some cool memories of us hitting races and riding together - a few years down the road.

  4. The video of the Open/Pro guys on the rocky descent... That appears to be Russ Stevenson (first guy who won), Toby Swanson, and Aaron Mickels. All really good guys, and very fast. You can read more about all of them at

  5. Cool - thanks for the info. I'll check out your site as well.