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2009 Sagebrush Safari

Road race on dirt.

The Sagebrush Safari is back in business, rising from the ashes of several wildfires, and subsequent trail rehabilitation. The course is mostly the same, although some single track in the last half of the main loop was lost, so there is a long slog on pavement back to Four Corners, before the final descent. The folks who maintain trails out there (mostly OHV enthusiasts, I think) have been hard at work, and many sections, including the old downhill course, are much cleaner and easier. The hike-a-bike remains, in all its perverse glory, but this event still retains its status as a mountain bike race for roadies. 

At the start, the race jumps right out on to pavement, and my 50 54 Category 2 group gets right down to business, forming a tight 25 mph pack. Now, this is a pretty large heat, and populated with some talented and very fast MTB, CX, and Crit racers, and most of the group stays wheel to wheel, shoulder to shoulder for 3 miles or so, until the abrupt start of the steep 1 mile climb up to Four Corners. The group shatters at the bottom, and I am dropped by a group of about 10 and left in no-mans-land, with a couple of others. After topping out and heading out on the trails, this becomes a more or less routine XC race.

Besides the shock of the crazy-fast start, I realize I am in trouble as I follow a friendly guy from my heat into a crowd at the start of the hike-a-bike. We dismount, and he suddenly shoulders his bike and starts running up the climb---a decidedly unfriendly maneuver, if you ask me. I can barely walk up this beast, much less run, but I give it a try. After a few minutes of gasping, cramping, falling down and getting in the way, I wave good-bye, never to see him again. Turns out, he is a regular on the CX circuit, which is a sport that mainly consists of running up hills and jumping over little fences in the rain, while carrying a perfectly good bicycle.

More routine racing follows, including the fast, cleaned-up version of the old DH course, and a bit of flat pavement, before jumping off into the dirt for a mile or so to the finish. I spy a rider in the distance, and manage to catch up just before the finish chicane. Hes in my class, so I shamelessly take a hard run past him, blast into the chicane at a ridiculous speed, and the two of us sprint it out to the finish.  

I end up with 7th place, by fractions of a second over my very unlucky and somewhat unhappy opponent, and fellow Weasels, Dave, Jeff, and Shane, finish 16th, 12th, and 16th in their respective classes.

2009 Sagebrush Safari Results