Barb Howe diary: Napa Valley Dirt classic

This past weekend I had the honour of racing at the Napa Valley Dirt classic. All the locals that I...

This past weekend I had the honour of racing at the Napa Valley Dirt classic. All the locals that I talk to have raced there at some time in the past so it seemed time that I checked it out. The race is held on the grounds of Pacific Union College, a Seventh Day Adventist college and is on a Sunday which means no pre-riding on Saturday which in this case was very timely.

Saturday poured rain all day, not on the scale of Sea Otter but a long steady rain. The weather forecast all week called for rain on Sunday as well. In preparation I set up some wheels with the Schwable Black shark Mud tire on the rear in a 1.5 (I've seen 'cross tires wider than this) and a 1.8 Nobby Nick on the front. It's a mud fest set of wheels with normal width and tread tires on another set of wheels.

After a brief but nerve wracking bit of misdirection I found myself at registration with plenty of time to spare. Everything was wet and chilly even though the sun was unobstructed in the sky. Having never raced here I had no idea if the soil was the draining type or the peanut butter mud type. Some friendly East Bay racers suggested using the wider tires as some of the rocky sections could be unpleasant with the super narrow mud tires. I went with the suggestion and was glad for it. For a warm up I checked out the start and finish of the course which had lots of sticky clay based mud and a steep run up/descent. I had a great crash on the steep little descent while warming up and got mud all over myself, so much for looking pro and starting the race nice and clean.

I had forgotten how laid back and fun local mountain bike races are. The pro, expert and masters women all staged together and there was no pushing, shoving, umbrellas, call ups or excessive nervous tension like at the big races. In fact everyone was relaxed and rather chatty at the start.

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