Big Red and Keyesville all mountain stage race:
Just got back from an awesome weekend at the 25th annual Keyesville Classics in not so sunny Southern California. Great time riding bikes with friends and fellow collectors. The the trip odometer on the Subaru finished up at 2352 miles for the total adventure. Excluding naps, about 21 hours of driving each direction.
Big Red started out the trip squeaky clean and ready to go late Wed. Eve. Unfortunately the first 1000 miles or so were spent in the rain on the rear rack and the wax on the handlebars was not enough to keep subtle surface rust from reappearing. After a nice long rain shower Red was then subjected to several more hours of road grime and many yet to be identified species of insects. Looking at all three bikes that rode outside, I am pretty certain we drove through a swarm of bees along the trip at some point.
Arriving at the venue, Thursday evening was spent setting up camp changing out the pedals (my vice) and old tires for something a little newer on Red. After that, heading into town to carbo-load on beer and pizza. With zero shut eye the night before (driving). A well deserved sleep in was spent until late Friday morning. By Friday afternoon several people were arriving and somehow the weather dictated more carbo- loading at the local pub as opposed to the usual pre race vintage ride.
Got up early Saturday for the 0800 start for the vintage short track. At almost 50 and out of shape, I have no visions of winning any race, but I still had to do Big Red proud. Took off with good intentions in mind but by the second lap the Walter Mitty in me was taking over and sucking wind, I was cranking as hard as my legs would allow. My buddy George close by, I knew I would probably struggle in the uphills to keep up with him, but would be able to make a little time with my no worries downhill attitude. The course had the typical roller coaster steep 80' of downhill followed by a just as steep 80' of uphill. Full throttle out of the downhill, I hit the uphill standing up and cranking with all I had to keep my momentum over the top. I need to blame something so I will say my lard ass weight was just a little too much for those flexy TA cranks and that fragile rear Hueret deraileur. Something caught and the chain totally tweaked, it's times around that drive train were over. Short track done DNF...
A quick rescue from a fellow vintage rider (thanks Steve) and I had another chain on Red ready to go. One thing for certain though, the length of the new chain meant no big ring for the rest of the weekend. Kind of a bummer (or a blessing) with the downhill just hours away:
With a few hours to spare it was off to check out the downhill course with my son who was riding vintage for his first time on his recently completed Yeti. We had finished putting it together the week before and he didn't really have any time on it yet. I wanted him to experience a little downhill on an steep non suspended bike before he ended up killing himself in the adrenalin infused fury coming a few hours later that day (he did great and his bike had zero mechanicals). Yes I did cringe as that minty fresh Moby went deep into the seat tube (at my request):
We ran the top of the course and I managed to bend red's saddle forward on one hard drop A quick fix with the allen head and it was level again (at this point in time I did make a mental note that I was riding an old bike and to take it a little easy). Got to the snake pit to make a few runs trying to find the right line. I am a fairly confident downhiller. Just before the pit there are two sharp turns that totally limit speed in. You don't hit it at nearly the speed as other parts of the course but if you don't go in with confidence it will be a disaster. Add to this the peanut gallery cheering you on and it is a challenge on any bike. This is the view looking down into the snake pit:
Well Red was not having any of that during my practice runs and after one false attempt to go in, I committed. Red flatted right in the middle of the line:
Of course only a short 5 minute downhill from camp, I had taken no spare tubes along and it made for a 20 minute bike on shoulder hike back to camp (a pattern developing). The pit would have to be hit cold this year during the race.
Drew first start for vintage class and took off with a bolt topping out where my middle front little rear would allow. Probably a good thing the big ring wasn't an option. Red was singing to me faster... faster... and I let him go. As the cheers from the others still on the top of the run faded away, we got into a groove. Hard left hard right steep section let him go. I had picked my lines earlier and Red had no qualms responding and flowing through them. The long wheelbase relaxed angles of these old Ritcheys make for a smooth high speed cruiser. I got some fun air through the first steep section and it all felt good. I knew another steep was just around the corner. By now we were flying pretty fast and I was letting the legs absorb as much of the trail as possible. Hit the second steep hard and fast. Wish H was there with his camera to document a little quiet time but he wouldn't find me until later in the weekend. Landing was right on straight ahead sucking up the shock with my legs, compressing, I came down hard on the saddle. Snap! It was like someone shot a gun right next to me. I didn't even feel the strike on my ass but I could tell my saddle was gone. Stopped to grab the saddle and determine what to do next. A bystander said no worries, he would get the saddle back to me later on and I left it with him. With 30 second intervals, at the start gate, I knew ER would be hot on my tail. I opted not to ruin my friends run and waited for him to pass me by. Then chose to wait for a few other friends also to pass before jumping in the course behind my son. I was going to get my moneys worth darn it!
Couldn't get back into the groove mainly because I knew I had half a seat post sticking out of Red waiting to deliver an enema if anything else went wrong. Cruised through the section before The snake pit and stopped before committing to the peanut gallery cheering below. Certainly breaking a few rules, some bystanders got together with their handy multi tools and we were able to remove the ominous remaining post leaving me no choice but to continue on:
Got through the snake pit in a less than pretty way but kept the rubber side down. Then it was a matter of flying through the lower course where Red performed beautifully on the open smoother steeper part of the route.
After the race there was time for pics as Red hung out with some of his younger brethen:
A few more friends came together and Red soon had a new post and saddle ready to go. I have to admit I am not a big fan of Turbo saddles, but it was a huge improvement over that B-72. Getting your butt back in the steeps was almost impossible with that B-72.
Sunday was the XC race and Red was ready to go. My son must not have been feeling it because he sensed the need to stay back with me and confirm I wasn't going to have a heart attack out on the trail. Made for a great ride mostly spent with just the two of us as we talked and took in the amazing scenery. Every once in a while he had to remind me we were in a race. As we got closer to the end, I pushed it harder. Coming around a corner, I saw my friend H, setting up his camera for a good shot. I figured he had done his part and found a place for some good air. I took it as a cue to crank hard and set up to fly. As I got closer I saw my landing would be nothing more than a nasty rock garden with all sorts of sharp sticking out. I didn't bother to investigate but I am pretty sure a look would have revealed snakebites both front and rear. A curse I have had all my life. 40+ psi doesn't matter. I am a pro at Snake biting tires. H got a great laugh, and I hope he got a great picture also. I have yet to see it. Close to the finish the bike went on to the shoulder for the final leg across the finish line. My Son stuck with me to the end. Needless to say, by the finish, I was wishing someone would have opted for the portage strap option back in 81!
Quick change back to the Mitsuboshi's, return the saddle and post back to some almost as cool C-26 where it belonged and Red spent the rest of the trip on the rack before the long drive home.
Seek: Cunningham, Koski Trailmaster, Breezer Series II or III, Early Ibis Custom.