Tuesday afternoon was the first race in this summer’s Over the Hump Race Series at Irvine Lake. It was a good turnout for the first race: a total of 355 riders of varied skill levels and ages. The race this year is a little different from it’s inaugural year (last summer), and in all good ways. Main difference being that there are 12 races in the series this year, whereas last year there were only 2. Also, at least 50% of the course was new as a result of much the old course being a few to several feet under water (the water level of the lake is higher at the beginning of summer). From my understanding, the course will change slightly race to race, which should make for a fun, new challenge each week.
Another change (and I will have to say improvement) to this year’s race series are the number plates. Last year (presumeably because it was the inaugural year and there were only two races) the number plates were printed cardstock (ok.. maybe a little stronger than that), and would definitely not have lasted more than 6 races. This year, number plates are plastic and rather nice looking. My number for the series is 127.
I must give credit where credit’s due. Most of the improvements to the race are the result of the hard efforts of the race directors, Matt Wenger and John Russell, and the many volunteers who helped create the course, organized registration, and manned the trail. They all made this race run very smoothly. But.. credit also has to be given to the sponsors:
And most importantly, our local bike shops:
I had an awesome race on Tuesday. Minh and I got there early enough so that I could pre-ride the course. I have to say that I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t do that well since I haven’t really been focused on training for this series. It’s just a fun series to do on Tuesday nights. I was pleasantly surprised at my time on my “warm-up”, and thought that I would do pretty well during the race.
The first half of the course had a couple steady climbs and some nice single track .There was also one descent that looks like you’re going straight into the water, but makes a sharp right to some switchbacks.
The second half (after crossing the water bridge) started off easy enough with some rolling hills and open course. Before hitting the end of the loop (which is through the parking lot, back to the start), the course narrows to single track and snakes through a tree-covered area. This part was fun, but really bumpy, probably because it was new. There was one surprise climb out of nowhere just before hitting this singletrack. It was pretty much hike-a-bike at this part because no one had the momentum to get up this short (must’ve been less than 25 yards, but really really steep) section or the person in front of you had stopped and blocked your line (not on purpose though). The singletrack opens into a clearing and then the parking lot and then you’re back at the start, ready for your next lap.
I did pretty well. There was one girl in my class ahead of me that I was trying to catch up to. I caught her at the beginning of my second lap and stuck with her on the fireroad and the climb, but once we got to the singletrack, I was stuck behind some people and she was out of my sights. Then, when I headed back to do the second half of the loop, I saw her just ahead of me while I was crossing the water bridge. She was in my sights for most of that part until we hit the hike-a-bike and singletrack, where I got stuck behind some more riders and lost her. I finished in 42:26.0, just one minute after her, in second place. I was happy to take second, especially because there were more than 2 people riding in my class (11 women in the Beginner class).
During the race, Crank Brothers had put a bunch of golden envelopes around the trail that would contain either entry to a raffle or free gear. I was keeping an eye out for them because I love free stuff, and I almost jumped off my bike when I saw one. This was on my second lap after crossing the water bridge. It was stuck to one of the directional posts. I was able to grab it without getting off my bike, but i couldn’t fold it and get it into my jersey pocket. I had to stop to do that. That is at least 10 seconds of unnecessary rest time. I guess I need to practice putting things in my jersey pockest during races.
When I finished the race, I headed over to the Crank Brothers tent to claim my prize. I won a set of Split QRS, which are quick release skewers. I already have a set of blue ones on my mountain bike, so I grabbed a pair of red ones, thinking that it would match well with my 29er. But Minh reminded me that my 29er doesn’t use quick release because it’s a singlespeed. Just means I’m going to need to buy a new mountain bike (or a cross bike??). ::wink wink::
Since there are more races in the series this time, there are better chances to get points and move up in ranks (series winner determined by best 9 races out of 12). I’ve signed up to compete in the entire series (saved me a little money) and expect to do pretty well the rest of the season. Looking forward to sporting the Leader’s Jersey at some point during the summer (which is another new thing this time around).
Minh and I hung around, waiting for results to get posted. I came away with a nice OTH 2010 glass, a beanie, and a H2O Overdrive waterbottle. I also scored a free t-shirt from Surf City Cyclery and VerizonWireless (did I mention yet that I love free stuff?). This is looking like it’ll be an awesome summer series.
Stay tuned for more race reports and updates as the summer and the series continues. Here’s the GALLERY!!!