Chunks of fun at Northstar bike races | SierraSun.com

Chunks of fun at Northstar bike races

Keepin' Score, Dan Savickas

Last week I promised John Pittman, a worker at Northstar’s bike shop, I would come out and do a story on the Thursday night mountain bike racers at Northstar.

“But you have to ride in the race to get the complete perspective on what the races are all about,” Pittman said.

I agreed, even though I hadn’t been on my bike in nearly a month.

Thursday afternoon I found myself at Northstar researching a story on the ropes course. During the interview, dark clouds rolled in and began to spit large raindrops at the ground below.

I retreated to my car and headed back to the office. On the drive back, rain and hail tried to outdo each other as the drops flung themselves at my windshield. The traffic slowed down to 20 mph, and I smiled with relief at the thought of a rained out mountain bike race.

I called Pittman at 4:30 p.m. to confirm the fact the races had been cancelled. “No, we’re still on,” he said as my stomach dropped.

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I raced home with just enough time to whip up and eat a stir-fry, grab my gear, and head out to Northstar.

By 6 p.m. the race had begun. The course consisted of a four-mile loop which started at Northstar’s village, then climbed up to mid-mountain and then descended back down to the village.

“This is a short course, so there’s not much climbing involved,” Pittman assured me as the race started.

Since I was in the men’s beginner division, I was to take two laps around the course. Pittman stuck with me and gave me helpful advice as we began the initial climb.

About 20 minutes into the ride I had a deja-vu sensation that I was in fact eating stir-fry. “You didn’t eat within two hours of the race did you?” Pittman asked. “Try less than an hour,” I replied.

About another 15 minutes into the race, I pulled my bike off the course and became a hypocrite. After all my recent columns about leaving no trace, I left my entire stir-fry halfway up the climbing section.

With my dinner out of the way, literally, I began to climb once again. A few minutes later I saw Paul Zarubin heading down the trail.

Before too long I had reached mid-mountain. After a nice straightaway section to catch my breath, I began to descend down the singletrack.

Racers from the expert and sport divisions began to blow past me. I thought back to what Pittman had said in the beginning of the race, “We get done before the experts (experts do four laps), so we get to see them ride. It’s really something to watch them.” I thought to myself, “Man, Pittman should’ve hung around with me. Instead of seeing the experts ride by on the flat section, he could’ve seen them fly by through some of the technical stuff.”

I eventually completed my first lap with only one spill. This was only my second time ridding clip-less pedals, so one spill with minimal loss of blood and a few bruises were fine with me. I decided a second lap was not necessary. This was also my second ride of the season. It’s not that I’m looking for reasons I only did one lap, I’m giving good solid excuses why I only completed one lap.

All in all, the ride was wonderful. The other races were friendly and everyone had a great time.

“The great thing about these races is that everyone can do them,” Pittman said. “You can do one lap, or four.”

Be sure to get out and race at the Northstar this Thursday night, there are only two races left. Registration begins at 5 p.m. and the race starts at 6 p.m. sharp. Each week they switch up the course, so things are bound to be interesting.