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Rocky racing

Courtesy Dan McGee/Sparks TribuneTruckee racer Talya Dodson airs off a hill in downtown Virginia City en route to a first-place finish in the womens class of the Virginia City Grand Prix this past Sunday. Dodson finished third overall in a field of 406 male and female racers.
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During the week, Talya Dodson makes a living selling real estate in the Truckee-Tahoe area. By weeks end, shes ripping through dirt racetracks, swooping by slower riders clogging her path.This past Sunday, the 34-year-old Truckee resident put together her most impressive performance to date when she raced to a first-place finish among women and third overall out of 406 riders in the amateur division of the Virginia City Grand Prix.It was definitely my best overall finish ever, Dodson said, adding that she typically places in the top 20 or 30 against men but rarely cracks the top 10.But after three 23-mile laps and nearly three hours of racing Sunday, Dodson realized from cheering spectators that she was in position to exceed her expectations. In fact, she learned from a friend on her pit crew that she was only slightly off pace of the overall leader entering the final lap.My goal was to finish in the top 30, so I was really excited to find out I was that close to the leader, she said.Of the 400-plus racers, only 11 completed the third lap within the three-hour cutoff. Those 11 were allowed to race a fourth lap.When all said and done, Dodson posted a time of 3 hours, 49 minutes and 46 seconds. Steven Pirnik of Gilroy, Calif., took the top spot overall in 3:37:40, followed by Jason Alosi of Reno (3:48:26).Dodson, who raced in her third Virginia City Grand Prix, finished second last year in the womens division and 52nd overall, posting a time of 3:11:19 after three laps. In her first attempt in 2006, she didnt complete the race because of a flat tire.

The Virginia City Grand Prix course is a jarring and dusty one that tests the mettle of even the most skilled riders, Dodson said.It begins in downtown Virginia City, then veers left at the Bucket of Blood Saloon and heads into the rocky desert.The course gets really dusty and very, very rocky, Dodson said, comparing the rocks to bocce balls in size.The most challenging part is a steep, 5-foot-wide uphill section strewn with loose rocks. It causes havoc, tossing the more inexperienced riders from their bikes. Once bucked off their bikes, sometimes perpendicularly, they become obstacles for other racers to negotiate.There were about 40 bikes scattered (on the course) on my first lap, Dodson said. I went down four times trying to get through people.With only about 15 to 20 downed riders on her second lap, Dodson said she held the throttle wide open and made it through without crashing.On her third time around by this time she was lapping racers the uphill stretch again was bottlenecked with about 30 bikes and riders. Dodson went down twice. But such spills are not uncommon, she conceded.Ill wreck at least once in a race. I have six giant bruises on my body from this last race, Dodson said.By her fourth and final lap the section had cleared out, and Dodson blasted through en route to her impressive finish.

Fresh off a week-long training session in Mexico with Team Tahoe, Dodson felt tuned and ready to race.There were days where we spent 15 hours on a bike. I was riding a KTM 530 and I raced a KTM 250 on Sunday, so it felt really nimble under me, she said, explaining that the 250 is much lighter than the 530.The all-girls Team Tahoe was practicing south of the border for the SCORE Baja 500, which is scheduled for May 30-June 1, as well as the Baja 1000, which will be held Nov. 19-23.Coached by Truckee rider Scott Meyer, who has raced the Baja 1000 five times, the team is made up of Kim Vail of Kings Beach, Nikki Wagner of Truckee and Dodson. They practice about once a week, Dodson said.Besides the practice she gets in with her team, Dodson stays sharp by racing nearly every weekend mostly in Northern California in the District 36 Hare Scramble and Enduro Series.So far this season shes ranked fourth in the AMA National Hare Scramble Western Series and is undefeated in the District 36 Hare Scramble. Last year she won the womens overall championship in the District 36 Enduro Series.I just want to keep racing as long as I can, because I enjoy it and Im passionate about it, Dodson said. Ill never make a living out of it.But shell always get a kick out of beating people to the finish.


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