For some reason, this race was pegged as the XC championships, which basically means it's a regular race, except that the winner of each category/age-group gets to claim to be the "state champion."
I like Alsea Falls, it's got a nice, paved road up to the top, and then a mixture of logging roads and pretty nice singletrack coming down. None of it is very technical, it's all pretty shaded, and it's close to home. I volunteered to help set up to get the race entry fee waived (thanks Mike!). And, until about 10 minutes before the race, I was the only Clydesdale registered.
I didn't get much time to warm up - I changed into my gear and then switched places with Todd - who was directing folks driving in. Todd hadn't even registered at that point. I got about 10 minutes to spin my legs before the race, which wasn't very good, but since I was the only Clyde... no big deal.
Of course, as I rolled up to the start, Ripley is on the microphone and entertaining people as the different flights take off. He points me out, along with one other Clyde - Bryan Ross.
That name won't mean much to you, but I recognized him. At the end of the Cascade Chainbreaker I remember chatting with him briefly, well, it was more like I butted into a conversation I overheard. He talked about winning his category, and I noticed he was kind of a big guy, and a little older than me. Not real tall, maybe 5'7", but pretty barrel-chested. You could tell he wasn't a fat guy, just large. I was confused, because I remembered seeing my name atop the Clydesdale category, so I made a mental note of his race number and looked him up when I got home. He had won the Cat 2 Men 40-49 group, and gotten 1st, 2nd, and 4th in the other races (same category) - obviously a fast dude.
Well, his team had convinced him he should race Alsea Falls as a Clyde - for team points.
Not only was I racing against a ringer, who was older than me, he also had his grandchildren at the race to watch him.
He was a legitimate Clydesdale, tipping the scales at 220#. Evidently, he had weighed 305# at one point, dropped down to 180#, didn't like how he felt, and he was back up to 220# and happy there.
The starter gun/beep went off and we took off, along with a young group (15 year olds).
Bryan left me in the dust going up the hill - and I figured the hill would be my strength. As it was, I had to work pretty hard to stay even with the 15yo's - some of which passed me. By the end of the climb, I'd caught all the 15yo's and saved a little face. I was reassured myself that they were faster going up because they weighed but half of what I weighed... still.
I didn't see Bryan again, but I heard he had a pretty hard crash. You can judge for yourself - his crash is on YouTube right here. He cracked a few ribs, brushed himself off, and finished the race 7 minutes ahead of me. The man is a machine.
I don't remember a lot of details about the race. There were the big water ditches (that Bryan crashed on), and at one point a guy in green asked if he could get by - and I've never seen anyone disappear that fast. He flew past me at nearly double speed. If only I could acquire some of those skills...
I remember catching a few of the other Team Dirt guys who had started a couple rows ahead of me, so I felt good about that.
I look forward to more races there. Team Dirt and the BLM are working together to put in nearly 20 miles of trails in the next few years (2 miles of MTB specific trail have already been put in since this race). It should be an awesome place to bike.