I love racing at Big Bear. Gavin and the team have been working tirelessly on new singletrack and each time we ride up there the fun factor goes way up. I remember racing the endurance races just a few years ago and it was 45 miles of fire road and maybe 1-2 miles of singletrack. No longer. These trails are sprouting up like mushrooms and they’re all a blast.
The start was weird this time- instead of the bottom of 2N10 near the Fern Trail we moved about half a mile up the road. The endurance race kicked off at 10am with all categories starting at once. Eboz and I left around 6am from the Conejo and the smoke from Saturday’s Old Fire was still thick in the air.
The lineup was expectedly chill, did I mention I love these races? After riding 1/4 mile farther ahead to the loop around point to drop two bottles I headed back to the line. About 30-40 of us were just hanging out and trying to find shade. The heatwave was in full swing and temps were already in the mid 70s instead of the typical 50s. Tom goofed around for bit then counted us down. Since I’d just been up the road to drop bottles I knew we’d have a little fire road climb and then a quick turn onto the Pirates single track. My goal was to be first to the trail and set the pace. I knew the trail from riding the CA State XC Championships and duking it out with Beechan in October but the trail was new for the Kenda Cup series.
When we got to the turn it was well marked with cones but a few riders still thought we were going the usual way and continuing on the fire road. There was a second of hesitation and I attacked. I punched Pirates hard and watched everyone disappear behind me. By the time we got back to 2N10 there wasn’t anyone in site and by mile 6 I had 30-45 seconds on second place. It’s my favorite way to race. Alone. No pressure. I set a pace that felt comfortable and turned the pedals and waited to pop. It never happened. Every 10 miles I downed a bottle and a gel and I kept pushing. The FSI was amazing on Skyline trail. It was a little loose but I never lost control or time. Singletrack descents aren’t my strong suit and I was waiting for John Nobil to sneak up on me but it never happened.
By the end of the second lap everything was comfortable and I checked back a few times to see if anyone was sneaking up but it was still empty. I hit the gnarly enduro descent to the finish and hung on for dear life. I knew the win was mind as long as my tires didn’t tear on the five miles of jagged rocks. P.S. I love the Specialized Fastrak tires- they have yet to fail me. Best tires I’ve ever ridden.
Finally walked away with a win! Didn’t even feel tired at the finish. I guess the short punchy training has paid off or maybe it’s still the BWR fitness bump.
A few beers later and the only bummer was that no-one else stuck around for the podiums. Bummer. Now I look like a looser.