Race Report - Thursday Night Buck Hill MTB or Getting Back into the Swing of Things

4:52 AM

Sometimes getting back into the swing of things simply involves, well, getting back into the swing of things.  Im going to assume this advice works for blogging and cycling.

With that in mind, the Spouse and I headed out to the Thursday night mountain bike races at Buck Hill, a local ski area.  These are informal races where you get two options based on length (Recreational Women run 2 laps, and Advanced women run 3).  Since I was in need of both a serious butt-kicking and some quality time with my new Scott Scale 29er, I selected the Advanced class.

Heres the thing.  I live in Minnesota.  Not exactly the place for high altitude skiing.  Buck Hill really is just that, a big-ol-hill with a small set of runs on the front side, and some twisty single track in the woods at the top.  But they keep sending you up that damn hill 3 times each lap.  Dont get me wrong, screaming down the hill was awesome, and I now have absolute confidence in the braking power of my sweet hydraulic brakes.  But holy hell in a hand basket, climbing that sucker does not get more fun as the race goes on.

My bike and I are still getting to know each other heck, he doesnt even have a finalized name yet (though, apparently, he is male).  I refer to him alternately as Lions for Scottie (full, formal moniker) or Geoffrey (for the awesome Geoff Kabush).  This getting to know you process is nice, but sometimes lands me on the ground with sudden force.  What Ive learned so far:

Getting off the back is fun.  One of the first lessons I learned about mountain biking is to always keep the bottom bracket between you and the ground, so when the ground tilts down you need to get off the back of your bike.  On the 26er I never got comfortable with this move.  It just didnt feel natural, and I was always afraid of what my twitchy front wheel was going to do.  With Geoffrey, on the other hand, my favorite position appears to be with my seat in my chest.  The braking power is exponential, the control is supple, and the stability is earth-bound in the extreme. 

My front wheel dives easily in corners.  This one, I havent quite figured out.  Basically what happens is this: when I brake into a corner my front wheel dives like crazy, which sometimes leads to me weighting it too much and washing out my front end.  At first I thought my tires werent aggressive enough, but now Ive been working on adjusting my body position getting more mobile on the bike.  Still, Ive got to do some reading up on fine-tuning the forkIve got to believe that has something to do with this.

Ive discovered a whole new (painful) way to crash.  And here I thought I had discovered every way you could possibly exit your bike!  So far Im calling this one the Scottie Sandwich.  Here is how it works.  Because you are not familiar with the behavior of your wagon-wheeled bike, you accidently come down on the front a bit hard.  The bike then drives itself to the side and into the ground.  During this process you wind up with your knee smacked between the massive handlebar and the top tube, giving you nice bruises on both your inner-thigh and outer knee.  Ive now done this to both knees.  I dont recommend it.

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