Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Return on the Jedi Report

Another xc race I have been wanting to do for several years, the Return on The Jedi, happened this past weekend down near Grants Pass, OR.  The drive down from Bend takes about 3.5 hours, so Bruce, Dave and myself decided to go down Sat night and spend the night.

The name of the race stems from the last section of trail on the course, named the Jedi Trail, hence that is how riders return the the finish.  The course consists of one big loop (28.7 miles) that is comprised of steep climbs, technical singletrack and several creek crossings.  During a few steep climbs "Granny" decided to show up.  Also making an appearance was Adam Craig, fresh off his return to racing down on Lance's Ranch last weekend.  The # of riders (about 90 total) wasn't as big as previous races, most likely due to the fact that the course is out in the middle of nowhere, but those who showed up were treated to a true mountain bike course.  Adding to the difficulty if the course was the rain that had fallen a few days prior and also during the race.  There were several sections where it felt like clay, and that made for some sketchy riding at times.

                                        Photo courtesy:  Bike Kraft

The race began with a short "starter loop" around the camp area.  Once we hit the pavement out of the camp, it was a short distance before we again turned into a sweet singletrack section with lots of switchbacks an rollers.  I was leading the way at this point with Adam, Brig and Matt on my wheel.  After a few miles we jumped back out on the pavement and began a short climb.  The four of us stayed together as we then hit more singletrack that would begin the start of a long climb.  This was one of the more challenging sections of the course because the trail was very soft and it was difficult to get any speed, so even though you felt like you were working your tail off, you weren't going that fast.  I continued to push a fast tempo pace for several miles.  Then Brig pulled through along with Adam and Matt and I weren't able to keep their pace.  We stayed within 30-40 feet throughout most of the climb, still within sight so we knew we weren't losing much time.  The singletrack eventually became a fire road.  Once we crested the climb we started a fast descent  which in places was pretty hairy.  Hitting speeds of 30+ mph I nearly went of the road and into a ditch on one turn.  Matt and I were able to catch  back up to Adam and Brig just in time before the steepest and most technical climb on the course.  For about a mile, the trail was nothing but small rocks that were loose and a good 30% gradient.  The effort of the climb was well worth it because soon after we would enjoy some very fun technical descending, the kind where you are off the back of the saddle as far as you can go.

                                   Photo Courtesy:  Bike Kraft

With a grin still on my face is was time for one more grueling climb before reaching the Jedi trail.  At this point Adam and Brig had a small gap on Matt and I.  We rode our steady pace listening to each other grunt and breath heavily in sections, while also pushing each other to ride at our limit.  I'm not sure how many miles that last climb was but it sure seemed to take forever.  It reminded me a lot of riding at Capitol Forest up in Washington State; lots of lush green forest trees, mud, tons of switchbacks, the feeling of solitude, and very challenging.

The final 5 miles were mostly downhill on the Jedi Trail.  The trail, however, was a mixture of mud/clay so it was pretty slick on most of the turns.  I pushed as hard as I could but it wasn't enough to crack the Top 3.  Adam pulled out the win with Brig, Matt and then myself finishing shortly behind.  It was a great day of racing and one I would definitely recommend.

Pro Men

Pl    Num   First Name     Last Name      Time
  1    257   Adam           Craig         02:29:52.00
  2    261   Brig           Brandt        02:31:26.00
  3    265   Matt           Russell       02:33:26.00
  4    267   Sloan          Anderson      02:34:14.00
  5    266   Jonathan       Myers         02:43:54.00
  6    262   James          Ceccorulli    02:45:42.00
  7    268   Bruce          Rogers        02:47:59.00
  8    259   Bear           Perrin        02:48:05.00
DNF    260   Timmy          Evans             

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