Unlike the East Coast swing, this trip is security checkpoints, bike bags, long flight times, crappy airport food, and no real resources. So, how is this one of the best and biggest national series races of the year?
It starts with everything arriving at the airport when you do, then taking the time time to travel across the Puget Sound from Edmonds to Kingston on the ferry. What a beautiful site and the BGB Race Team was blessed with an awesome day to travel!
Most of the team traveled on Wednesday. This makes the trip a little less stressful for sure. It gives us time to build bikes, go out to eat and get a good nights sleep before the hike up Dry Hill for course walk.
Thursday morning came and everybody was starving. Jimmy Leslie suggested we stop at this local cafe called Shirley’s Cafe. It would not disappoint with tasty pancakes, eggs, omelettes, french toast and coffee.
This year Scott and the crew at Dry Hill couldn’t let course walks start in the morning. The forestry service/DNR is logging on Dry Hill so for everyone’s safety we waited until the last logging truck was done. When we arrived, we immediately started running into old friends from seasons past from the East Coast to the West Coast.
Never forget to get your Discovery Pass before you come to walk or ride. All the agencies work very close with the crew that run the NW Cup and it helps the promoter if we do our part.
The walk up the course started and it was Hot, Dry and Dusty. The NW Cup decided to run a different top section from what we ran last year. It would present a nice change and the course would look faster than the previous year.
Captain Jimmy wrangled Michael, Kai and Jaeger and started the course walk to discuss line choices. Joshua headed up with his coach, Christopher Herndon.
There would be a lot to look at for 4 out of 6 BGB riders. Michael, Jeager, Kai and Nick were making their first trip to race Port Angeles. Jimmy and Joshua were familiar with the bottom half having raced it last year.
After course walks, it was time to head to the house and the AWESOME spaghetti dinner that I prepared that morning after grocery shopping. Almost a completely homemade meat sauce, angel hair pasta, salad and fresh bread and a couple of adult beverages for those of us old enough to partake.
Friday practice would start early. Even though we were preregistered, we learned from last year the lines would be long…this is generally the largest attended race of the season on the GRT schedule (almost 550 riders this year). Of course, the lines were long but they moved at a steady pace and gave us enough time to get ready before practice started.
Now back to the statement I made at the beginning about no real resources. Traveling by plane left us needing essential items for a pit. Luckily, our wonderful sponsor FLY Racing brought us two 10×10 tents to use, which is a must in the Pacific NW.
Friday practice was a good 4 hours. Staying hydrated and cool were the themes of the day. The course was rapidly changing getting blown out with braking bumps and holes. It was changing after each run making it tricky to navigate.
Practice would end for all our CAT1 riders and now it was time for our 14u rider Nicholas Wildrick to start his shuttle runs. This being his 1st season, Nick was cool as cucumber in the big setting of his first Pro GRT. His bike had been hand tuned by JP at the SRSuntour/Novatech tent. Nicholas would have a great day of practice. He found some East Coasters and made new friends.
While Nick was practicing, I was back at the house getting the TACO dinner ready for all riders and parents. Soft tacos, yellow rice, black beans and salad. Of course a few adult beverages for the “legal” adults in the house. Everyone else had water, milk, or juice. I have to say that my tacos must have been really good because they stayed with us all evening…HaHa. I have to admit that I’m no Diane Leslie (Jimmy’s mom) when it comes to planning out meals and cooking. We get to chow down on Diane’s cooking at Mountain Creek!!!
One of the benefits of racing on a team with other riders is the life long friendships you develop. You can share the good times and disappointments with those that understand. You travel the US and World seeing sites. You can sit around camp fire telling stories, jokes and $hit talking.
Saturday would be broken up in to an early morning session (7:30 am) and a early afternoon session. This is to make time for the Cat1 Jr Expert Seeding runs and Pro Qualification runs. Jaeger and Nicholas headed over around 6:30 am. I got some of that wonderful coffee at the track and started doing my bolt checks on the bikes. Jaeger, our CAT1 19-29 rider, had been dealing with a noise issue somewhere in his bike most of the day on Friday. We were unable to isolate it but after 2 runs on Saturday we figured it out, we had our first mechanical failure of the season.
I’m sure most every rider that races has experienced some type of mechanical failure. Part of having limited resources is dealing with the stress associated with mechanical issues. Jaeger deserves a lot of kudos for being patient while I looked for a solution as his practice window kept slipping away. Our dear friends at Incycle Racing helped us out and Jaeger was able to get in 2 more runs before the close of his practice. The weather had started to change on the hill; cooler, clouds and some light rain.
Before CAT1 Jr Expert & Pro practice and before the weather came in the guys wanted to head to the water to get some love shots with the new girls “The 2016 Devinci CARBON Wilsons”.
With the conditions changing, it’s a good thing the team had fresh rubber provided by Onza Tires. The boys were running the Ibex RC45a DH casing. Joshua and Jimmy were testing the Enduro casing (EDC) as a possible downhill option. Look for a performance summary post coming soon.
After practice Joshua, Michael, Kai and Jimmy had to get ready for the seeding and qualification runs. The weather had set in with a constant drizzy/light rain, cooler temps and slippery course. The three CAT1 Jr Expert had seeding runs to determine start order for Sunday but Jimmy had a qualification run. Thats the big difference between Pro and Jr Expert. Jimmy would have to put the demons away from last year, playing it TOO conservative. Jimmy had a great off-season and is showing solid gains each week.
After seeding and qualification was over, there seemed to be more disappointment than joy. Joshua Rogers – 16th, Michael Kane – 35th and Kai Nishino – 44th. Joshua said he was way too conservative, Michael and Kai had mistakes costing time. Jimmy put in a solid time to qualify 30th making it too the big dance on Sunday.
Saturday evening would be a pizza night while reflecting on the days performance and looking ahead to Race Day.
Sunday morning would come early for Nicholas and Jaeger. With a 7:30 am practice time an immediately following would be race runs. The conditions were foggy and dark near the top. The roots were slippery but dirt was epic. This was a different setup than what these two have experienced before. Practice was a one run and done! Both decided to wait closer to the end of practice to put down practice runs.
Jaeger was first one to race and put in a solid time finishing 33rd. Not what he really wanted but still a solid time considering all the obstacles. Nicholas would be up next; racing in his biggest race with the most riders. Nicholas had been showing the speed to put in up top all weekend. His race run wouldn’t go as planned. He actually caught the rider in front of him and ran into his back tire costing lots of time. Then after making that pass, he caught another rider in the final stretch to the finish line which held him up again. Even though he was disappointed with his 4th place finish, Nicholas had a blast.
Joshua was pleased with his run but knew he left time out there with a mistake. Walking away with a top 10 is a great start too the season. Obviously Michael and Kai were disappointed both having major mistakes and going down during their runs.
Jimmy walked away with so much to build on but was defiantly disappointed with the results. Jimmy went down 3 different times in his race run but that’s racing. He knows that good and bad runs are out there, we just don’t want to find the bad ones. Fortunately, he came away with no real injuries.
Check out all the results at RootsandRain.com
Sunday night was full of breaking down bikes, laughs, $hit talking, some app called “Tinder” lol and relief that weekend was complete. After bikes were done we set off for some dinner and of course I had to order a drink that was NOT what I expected. It was a great laugh at the table and sums up our time out west….FUN!
I have to say that the first race was a success, the new team bonded, saw old friends, met new friends and got to race an awesome venue. Now we have a week off and then it’s on to the Pro GRT #2 at Mountain Creek in Vernon, NJ. Safe travels to all our friends and hope to see you there.
If you guys haven’t noticed, not sure how you can’t, FLY is everywhere now. It’s so awesome to see the growth FLY is experiencing in DH, Moto, and BMX. Keep an eye out for the new products being released. It’s even more RAD than this years product line!
As always none of this would be possible without a great line-up of sponsors…
Billy Goat Bike Shop • Novatec Wheels • BikeFettish • RJ Rockers Brewery
Mountain Khakis • Onza Tires • SR Suntour • GoalZero
HT Pedals • FLY Racing • CaneCreek • Deity • Devinci Bikes