I was fortunate enough to participate in the 25th annual Leaping Lizard dowhill race in Laguna Beach, CA. Though my cajones are not of sufficient diameter to qualify me as a true downhiller I do enjoy a gravity based competition a few times a year, and this is one of em.
Armed with my tank-like Kona Dawg (and it's angry 5 inches of travel), all the plastic armor I can find (gathering dust in boxes the garage), a full face helmet (in case I start bouncing off of trees like a pinball), and of course my Cedric Gracia carbon knuckled 661 gloves (for punching anyone who tries to pass me). I venture forth.
Usually this race ends up being a teeth chattering, I can barely hang on to the finish, why am I doing this event, but this year was different. With the plethora of recent rain here in SoCal and the gumption of a dozen or so dedicated riders, immense hours of trail work were put into the course, the famed Telonics, making it a dream to ride down. Blue grooved ruts and stutter-bumps became super-flat tacky brown earth. Corners were banked like turn 3 at Daytona. The chin guard on my helmet hid my wide grin as I flew (well, flew for ME!) down the hill.
The two run format and DIY shuttle system (as in "hike your own ass up the entire course pushing your bike") allowed me to keep my heart rate up and finish a scant 57 seconds behind race winner Brian Lopes, who sported his new powder blue Ibis refitted with a long-travel fork. He better look out for me this year, I might decide to try 4X (if my swelled noggin can fit into a full face helmet anymore!) HA!
After the race, beer drinking and food mowing ensued as well as the awards ceremony which featured Hans "No Way" Rey
on speakerphone via Mission Hospital. That's right. Unfortunately the Trials champion, Skillsmeister General and all-around speed demon crashed earlier in the week preriding the course. Ejecting off the famed "Volkswagon Rock"(which is called that because it's the size of a VW bug) he shattered his ankle. Did naming the new Kenda tire he helped design the "Telonix" jinx him??? We'll never know, but our thoughts and prayers are with him for a speedy recovery.
Luckily no one else was injured and the race was a blast. With Johnny T's Primer 220 coming out soon, I just might have to look at doing some more DH races.
OOOOOOOOOr maybe not. :)