Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2015 Echo Red to Red

I don't think it was on anyone's race calendar when Steve G. fired off the e-mail to rally team members to the 2015 Echo Red to Red XC race. It has pretty long miles for an early season race, but I was lucky enough to visit family in California in early February, and got in several longer rides. So I freed myself from a ski trip and signed on for Echo. Mark S. and Mike A. also joined in.

Steve furnished the crew with
This is how we roll.
premium travel and housing. We left Boise ~10AM with the intention of a partial course pre-ride in the afternoon. Echo greeted us with a chilly, drizzly, grey day. So instead of gearing up to ride, we tasted some wine, car-scouted the race course up to the trailhead, and set up camp – as it turns out, much too close to the railroad.

We stumbled on a restaurant gem in Echo – The Wheat and Barley Pub.  Small menu, on the pricey side, but locally sourced organic food and well prepared. I look forward to bringing Patty there next time we head West. My roasted brussels sprouts and pork belly pasta were outstanding. The lamb shank and rib-eye steak dinners looked good too.

Our waitress informed us of the pool table in the basement... sounded like the right thing to do,
especially given the limited options in Echo. It was rustic down in the basement: sump pump, water
heater, storage, wiring, plumbing, soda kegs. A
Basement of Wheat and Barley Pub
collection of classic vinyl and a stereo system from the
'80s kept the music pumping, and the atmosphere
festive. Steve must have done some significant billiards
time because he was unstoppable.

Pool hall rules hung on a chalk board:
1. Clean up after yourself.
2. Keep the door closed.
3. No urinating in the basement.
4. Winner chooses music for one game.

We abided by the rules to the best of our ability.
Eventually we wound down the party and returned to
the trailer by the railroad tracks. During the day, the
train traffic was pretty light. At night, it seemed like
every 30 minutes a train would roar by. Lesson learned.

Saturday morning, we ate at Echo's only diner, in final
preparation for the 11AM race start.
TEC Battle Preparation

Race time: Page Rost traveled
separately to Echo, and we saw
him during warm-up. Mark,
Steve, Mike and Page started with
the Cat 1 32-mile race. I started
20 minutes later with the Cat 2
because I thought 25 miles was
enough for an early season race.

There were ~400 total racers. So
Echo's population of 700 nearly
doubled. For such a small town,
the trail system is truly
impressive. Several miles of
single track meander the drainages
Cat 1 Start
between agricultural plots. Huge
kudos to the race organizers,
sponsors and volunteers! We're
grateful to all who made this race
happen, and look forward to

My race went pretty well.
Immediately after the neutral rollout, the pace surged way beyond my level. I counted 25-30 racers in front of me by mile one.

Once we hit the single track, I started picking off riders. I ended up 4th in the 40's age group of 40 racers, I think 8th in the whole Cat2 group.

Passing on single track was problematic for everyone. Going off the single-track into sage and
rodent holes is taxing. It's typical for someone getting passed to accelerate. I once got straightarmed by another racer after I made a clumsy attempt to pass. I eventually got a clean pass opportunity, and never saw him again. The course was bumpy and turny, demanding a lot of focus... first time I checked mileage was at mile 19. I didn't drink water during the whole race – another lesson learned: camelback for technical races. Mercifully, weather was perfect: cool and dry, but not cold or dusty.

Finish: Mine was uneventful. One guy passed me on the flat time-trial road section. I was able to
catch his wheel and he was such a hammer that he carried me past two riders.

Here are Mike A. and Mark finishing.

Mark represented the Team on the podium – 3rd in a tough single speed field. We collectively got
skunked in the raffles. In summary, the early-season race gave us a good indicator of strengths and opportunities for improvement. We all had fun and all finished. Good times!