Saturday four of us roared into Burlingame Park stuffed into a too big super-black, super-slicked(Armor-alled sufficiently to render it a candidate for poser status since we couldn't step on the running boards, step-ins etc) Ford badass 4X4. My first view upon walking behind the truck to access my rig for a pre-ride of the course, was Malesky's third leg pointing my way - issuing forth a puddle on the ground immediately behind the truck. Gawd! WTF? Dude that's what the woods are for!
After pulling the truck up a few yards, we off loaded, changed clothes in the 38 degree breeze and ventured out on the unmarked course, using the map from Grimley's site. The 34 year old among us zipped off up the road, full of quick, with bravado in his wake.
We found the yellow dot trail and followed it for a bit- streaking throught he first swoopies when suddenly we were confronted with a rock garden that seemed to have no line. We settled on the middle way and proceeded through the rest of the early sections a bit on guard as we realized the KOB is no 'flat double track' course. It is flattish, but throws down some testy rock gardens, sometimes after bridges that make pre-riding essential. At one point we came to a 6' drop down and I'm thought someone's going to break something there the next day. We rode the rest of the trail, circumnavigating the pond, crossing off-camber bridges and scouting hard bottomed lines through the mud holes. At one point we are forced off the bikes to tiptoe around a flooded trail section. Upon completion, we were wet, muddy and bewildered by the wakeup call of reality. KOB is fast but it also challenges.
The next day we arrive and I warn Hilljunkie about the one drop. He's nervous about the roadie crossover factor but is probably capable of 350 W for the duration. What I later learn, after racing the course, is that we went off course during the pre-ride since it wasn't marked until 6 am on race day, and had ridden some stuff that was not part of the course. Hallefrickenlujah.
Most of the guys showing up to this have been riding through the winter and so it's a tough bunch. My mission is to ride strong, with no bobbles and no broken body or bike parts.
The starter, Mr. Coffee, holds my seat and steadies me as they delay me for the no show riders in slots 16 and 17 and then boom, I'm gone. Through the opening fishtaily mud hole and off. After four rock gardens I'm feeling relieved since it becomes apparent that the real course bypasses the super-gnar section and I'm out of the saddle to re-accelerate after every turn. Good body feel, legs strong, head up and hitting the right lines. Then comes my brush with greatness as I call to the guy floundering ahead that there are two of us coming through and Kevin Hines and I glide by and in an instant, Hines glides by me like I am igneous bedrock mounted to the earth's crust as the tectonic motion of sea floor spreading progresses. Yes, I am only an usher for the great one, the KING of Burlingame. We bypass the off camber bridges and I'm finally near the last road section when I bobble, my only, and clumsily get up onto the road and drill it through to the end, never catching site of Hines again. He's 49 huh? 29:05. Wow.
Later on after finishing, 34 year old guy struggles to figure out how he could possible cut off 3 or 4 minutes to podium in his sport class. I wonder how many days there are until there is a real MTB race, the kind that is 20+ miles, climbs, and includes extended technical sections. The KOB TT is a novelty race. Novel enough to keep me coming back. Finished 24th of 133 starters in 34:23. No mechanicals, no regrets, all smiles.
BTW- here's an astute observer of rationality.
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