You know the trails well, you ride them often, and maybe you even learned to mountain bike taking trips up Canyon to Lake Ilsanjo. This park is your sanctuary, your escape from the traffic and noise of the city, your outlet to work through frustrations at work, or to burn some calories to earn that post ride burrito or beer. You know every trail in both directions, you could ride that rock garden on North Burma with your eyes closed, the one before the screaming fast flowy descent after the fun jumpy section.
But it’s a whole different experience riding them in the race. You were surrounded by dudes at the start, chaotic, chasing wheels, sucking dust into your lungs as you gasp for air climbing out of Spring Lake Park, and getting stuck behind slower riders in the rock gardens. Other riders offer encouragement as you passed them up Warren P Richardson, and you grunt a ‘thank you’, or ‘you too.’ You dip and weave through and over the same rocks you know so well, but now your eagle sharp focus is on the dude in front of you, chasing him down so that as soon as you hit the fire road you can fly past him. Dude is going to get chicked!
|Crossing the line in 1st in 2015.|
It’s exhilarating and agonizing at the same time. There is searing pain in your throat from the dust, and in your quads from the 3,500 ft of climbing, but chasing dudes is making you descend like the wind and you’re sure there will be new QOM’s set on this date. You are so looking forward to that final long descent down Marsh and Canyon, when you can let go, and focus on heavy feet and light hands.
The Annadel XC is near and dear to my heart. The park is where I learned to ride a bike, where I first mountain biked clipped in, and where I went to escape the angst of being a teenager. The race includes all the best of the best trails in the park, a true tour of the goods for non-local competitors taking them from Spring Lake to the densely wooded Channel Trail and Warren P Richardson to the marsh at the far south-eastern side of the park. The community comes together around the cause of keeping the park open leading to an atmosphere of appreciation, for volunteers, riders, our favorite trails, and the opportunity to race on home soil. The event begins with a pep talk from Carlos, and ends with the best post race food on the planet, and the beer flows like water. Good beer too, thanks Lagunitas! Annadel is equal parts fundraiser and celebration. It’s a chance for elite athletes to flex their freshly shaven quads, win great swag and stand on the beautiful handmade wooden Bike Monkey podium, and for beginners to conquer their first race. It’s the best race of the season, for spectators, athletes, their families, volunteers and for our good friend Annadel State park. Thank you Bike Monkey for pouring your heart into making the race match the awesomeness of the park. And thank you Annadel for being there for us always.