Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mesa Cycle's Burnin at the Bluff

Burnin at the Bluff as an amazing race! Last year was the first time I heard of the race. The shop puts it on but for some reason I had always just missed it. So last year the guys needed help with running the race so I went out for a night to do a little camping and help the guys set up. I thought it looked so cool that I was going to stay the whole weekend the next time around. I did not think I was going to be racing it. When Chris said he was doing a relay with Bj and they needed a third, I jumped right at it. I really like camping and I liked the atmosphere at last year's Burnin, so I was down.

The pre-race feels easy and relaxed, with most people just hanging out checking out who is camping where. There is some tom foolery going on but most are there to hammer so not many get too crazy. That is unless you are Scott Peipert who is only at his best when his blood alcohol content is over 50%. I really didn't have any idea what to expect for the race. We were going for 12 hours, a time I had never participated in, and I had not raced a mountain bike in 4 years. I was going first for our team (Mustache Ride the Lightning) and really just wanted to be safe and smooth. I had no idea who we were even going against so I just got ready to have fun.

The race starts of with a Le-Mans style start where we have to run around a field, through smoke clouds, find our bikes, and then BLAST down this big hill to the trail head. I hustled but definitely did not go into the red. This was my first mistake of the day. I had forgotten how much time you lose by not being at the front in a mountain bike race. My first lap was okay, but nowhere near fast enough to be competitive with the rest of the teams and right off the bat I put my team in last by about 5 min.

I had about 2 hours before I was scheduled to go out again. I got changed and started eating and getting fluids back in. I was already really tired and I knew I had 3 laps to go (39 miles). I was really kind of disipointed in myself as I had thought I would be able to hang a little better. I thought I had a little better handling skills to keep up, but the big hitters had all the skills and a motor to boot. Chris and Bj were doing a great job, especially Bj putting us into 3rd before my second lap. Going out for that lap I was right on Rock's wheel. (The Hub) He was pushing hard and was doing a great job of flowing through the woods. When we caught up to our first rider he was able to get by without incident, while said rider decided to stop in the middle of the trail on an uphill. This cost me a little time, which made me panic, which made me push to hard in the wrong places, and I flew of the trail down a hill. Now I was even farther back! So I tried to calm down a bit and just be smooth. It didn't really help, going through a stream I washed out and hit my face on a rock, that hurt a bit. I wasn't really able to get my rhythm for the rest of that lap.

The next lap was better, I was smooth, fast, and did not hit my face on a rock. The only problem I had was my seat tube came loose and was being a problem tightening. Riders were getting more and more spread out so it was easier to keep a good line though technical areas. I was getting more tired and wasn't able to concur the climbs as well as before though. I actually felt like I was getting over some of the climbs better running than I had riding. It helped my back a bit too, which was really wearing out.

As the race was coming to the end we had time to go out for one more lap. It was totally dark so I borrowed a head light from Light in Motion who were at the race as a big sponsor. The light was awesome! Doing the race in the dark was like doing a whole new course. I kept waiting for certain aspects of the course but almost alway just went by them without even noticing. Flying through the woods made it feel like I was going through a tunnel. It was also really cool to see the other riders all over the course because of their lights.

The race was a blast even though my team came in last in the wicked fast category. One of the things that made it such a great day was the bike that I was on. I was on a 2013 aluminum Specialized Camber. This bike is a hybrid of sorts in the Specialized mountain bike line. It is a cross between an all mountain and cross country. My buddy Chris says that it can get over looked by people looking for a cross country bike, who would go for an Epic, and a more pure downhill bike. All I did to the bike was put my pedals on it and put on a -20* stem. It was perfect! I was able to put down a ton of great power on climbs, and was able to keep pedaling over rough terrain. The only downside to that was I kept hitting my pedals on crap. The bike seemed to really track well going through turns and taking turns at high speed felt solid even while both tires were sliding. The only times I couldn't stay on the bike were totally rider error. The only thing that I would change was maybe go to a 1 x 10 or 1 x 11. I did go into the small chainring a few times but I never had to. Dropping the small ring, shifter, cables, and such would drop a little weight and just simplify things. There were a couple times that I accidentally hit the front shift button, and again that could have just been my placement of the controls. The ability to lock out the front and rear shocks was great as I could easily lock them out when climbing for any extended period, which helped if I needed to stand. This is for sure a bike that I would buy if I could ride mountain bikes more often.

The after party at Burnin is legendary, and this year did not disappoint. As I was finishing the race the party was in full swing, with Bj, John, and Chris, dropping fat beats! Bj was really showing his full potential with a large black fluffy wig, sporting his QMC jersey and his famous water proof pants. Chris was sporting a mexican wrestling mask, as well as a one of a kind Pabst Blue Ribbon board shorts. Finally John was skezzing it out with his hunter orange hat and a mega mullet. These guys were whipping people up into a tizzy, drinking cold Pabst keg beer. Scott P was once again in rare form as well, and when that happens you know you have a party. Christopher was having a great time giving out all the great prizes to all the awesome competitors at the event. There was so much swag that I don't really think anyone walked away without something. Mesa Cycles was giving away beer glasses, bike equipment, wheels, and money. Pabst, and Polk audio were giving away great products like t-shirt and headphones. There was so much great stuff I can't come close to remembering but I got a great Pabst trucker hat that I was pretty pumped about.

It was a great weekend, and I think that everyone had a great time as well. Next year will be the 10th running of the race and they have promised to make it bigger and better than ever. I can't wait.

Chris was as excited as these ladies for their win.
Everyone lays their bikes down and then has to run to them.
Pabst brings a lot of beer for the party

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