Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 25th, 2006 at 8:58 am
I’ve been without an off-road bike in my stable for way too long. This is a big deal to me because back in the day I used to eat, sleep and breathe mountain biking.
So last week, when my neighbor dropped of his old Kona MTB on my porch (he got something new and didn’t want it) a light went off in my head.
Why not just hop on it and race some short track out at Portland International Raceway (PIR)?
So last night I threw my hat in the ring and joined the Sport class race at Kris Schamp’s Mountain Bike Short Track Race Series. Kris puts on a great 6-race series that combines the woops and thrills of a motorcross track with technical singletrack in the infield of PIR.
I showed up to race with my 15-year old, fully-rigid, entry-level Kona. Kris took pity on me and offered up his brand new Gary Fisher 29-er. I’d never ridden a 29-inch wheeled bike or used disc-brakes but I jumped at the chance. Serendipitously, Kris’s bike fit me like a glove…I didn’t even have to change the saddle height.
I hopped on it, warmed up for a few minutes and then got to the starting line.
Not sure what to expect, I started in the back of the pack and thought I would play it cool and see what happened; but as soon as I started rubbing shoulders and tasting the dirt the gloves came off and it was just like the good old days.
I was mixing it up and moving up through the field, completely focused on the task at hand (don’t blow up and pass as many people as possible). I don’t know what I liked more, the almost zen-like frame of mind I was in or the actual riding itself.
The course was out of this world (then again, I haven’t been on a mountain bike ride for over a year so it wouldn’t have taken much to get me excited). There were woop-de-doos, sharp corners, steep uphills, very tight singletrack, and of course a few muddy sections.
Race promoter (and marketing guy for Bike Gallery) Kris Schamp knew it would be hot so he contacted the motorcross track crew. They came out and created a great mud pit and even turned on the sprinklers! Each lap, the burst of cool water provided a much needed shower.
At the end of the race I didn’t want to stop…I just rode around the pit area with a huge grin on my mud-soaked face ;-).
Big thanks to Kris for the bike and for my very own, personalized number plate.
The Short Track Series continues each Monday night through August 13th. Check out the website for more details.