No messing around this time, I know what you want.
Check out the pictures from the 2012 DORBA Fall Series XC Race at Erwin Park, then come back and read my Erwin tale.
If you would like to use, download, or edit these photos please provide attribution to www.TexasMountainBikeTrails.com by linking to the homepage or by sharing this post on your favorite social platform. I’m not a photographer and I don’t play one on TV, show some love and share with your friends.
But hold on now, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll explain that later.
The Erwin Park Race That Never Was
Erwin Park was supposed to be the site of race #2 in the 2012 DORBA Fall Series but due to the uncommon rain we got that week it was postponed until this past Sunday on September 23rd.
Thanks to another uncommon rain (perhaps they are becoming more common) the week prior to the rescheduled race, the trail at Erwin park was in perfect condition. I know this because Erwin Park happens to be my home trail which I ride 3 times a week. Literally I know every turn and can almost go through it in my mind without missing one.
I never thought this would actually make a big impact in my performance.
Saturday, the day before the race, I spent talking to my friend John up at Cadence Cyclery, and grabbing some spare parts for my wife’s new road bike. John is a bigtime road cyclist and weighs in at the ultra-heavy weight of roughly 145 pounds while covered in mud. He had been on a couple mountain bike rides and was contemplating racing at Erwin Park the following day.
John had this big hang up on #1) thinking he would be last, and #2) thinking that his bike was too heavy.
Now I’ve never been much for the “weight weenie” philosophy that drives people to cut as much weight off their bike as possible and spend $250 – $300 on a seat in order to save 72 grams. Especially when those people are like me and have an extra 20 pounds to lose off their gut. If your wondering, 72 grams is equal to 0.15 pounds… Yeah, it doesn’t make a ton of sense.
Overall, my conversation with John went something like this.
John: “Hey Shawn I’m thinking about racing tomorrow at Erwin, what do you think?”
Shawn: “That’s Awesome John, you should definitely come out and race with us!”
John: “But I don’t want to be last”
Shawn: “Don’t worry your a strong rider, you won’t be last”
John: “I don’t know, I really think my bike is just too heavy”
Shawn: “All I hear are excuses”
This went on for about an hour as we discussed bike weight and whether he would prefer a 26 or 29er as well as hardtail versus a full suspension. When I finally left the shop John was still undecided but leaning towards racing, I guess we would find out the next morning.
The Night Before
When I got home my wife was waiting on me, eager to head out for a road bike ride. We had just picked up her new-used road bike the weekend prior and she had been gung-ho ever since. It’s actually kind of funny because as diehard as I am about mountain biking she is just kind of blah to that, but she loves road riding which I in turn feel very meh towards.
1 hour 43 minutes later my wife had completed her first 20 mile ride. She is totally kicking butt and taking names!
The ride was longer in time than I would prefer but it did a great job of helping my muscles relax and prep for the next day, and since I was riding with my wife we took everything at a much slower pace than I usually would.
We got home I finished packing my cameras, a bag of food and my race bag for the next day. Bedtime.
Its just sooo early for a weekend, or for any day really.
But on the bright side, at least I was headed to a mountain bike race and not back to my stuffy office for another week of work. I was wide awake and beaming with delight within 15 minutes, something that usually takes my chipper self at least an hour and a half to do on a weekday.
I grabbed all my gear and tossed it in the car, followed by my bike on the back. 10 minutes later I was grabbing my customary cup of coffee and strangely singing along to Katie Perry again. I swear, it’s not a habit. It’s just a coincidence.
Once I got to Erwin and parked I grabbed my camera and headed to the registration tent to help the guys at Cadence setup shop. We got the tents setup and I mounted my Contour HD camera to a tent for this cool time lapse of the day. This was my first attempt at doing one of these, I thought it was kinda neat-o.
The cool thing about this race is that while walking around, snapping pictures and talking, I had at least 5 people say “Hey Shawn!” I had no idea who any of them were, plus 2 others that I had met once. Everyone had recognized me from the site, which was super cool!
If you don’t know me and you recognize me in the crowd, PLEASE come say hi to me and introduce yourself!
There is seriously nothing I like more than getting to know other mountain bikers and finding out that I was able to help them with something or just give them a laugh. It makes me feel like I’m a celebrity like Hulk Hogan. Yes, that is really me dressed as Hulkamania… Gotta love halloween!
Insert picture of all the racers during the Cat 3 meeting.
The announcer came over the loudspeaker and Cat 3 held their racers meeting.
I couldn’t help but feel like this was one of the best races I have ever attended. As I looked out across what seemed like a small sea of people all kitted up and ready to race. I don’t know why, but the moment really stuck out to me and I just thought it was perfect. There were so many people in attendance that they had to push the start of the race back 15 minutes because the cars were backed up trying to get in to the parking lot.
As the racers headed down to the starting line I scurried off to tuck myself into some trees so I could get some good pictures. Somewhere behind me on the uphill start a couple of energetic fellows got into a shouting match after one rider clipped the other. Unfortunately I couldn’t see because of the thicket of trees I was in
Listen guys, your not getting paid to race and that isn’t that big of a deal. Yes, it sucks that you paid $40 and somebody clipped you not even a mile in. Yes, it sucks that you may have a scratch on your bike or have to get something fixed. But that’s part of mountain biking. Don’t act like an idiot dropping multiple F-bombs while surrounded by families and children. Show some class and be a gentleman please.
I continued listening to their imbecility as I snapped away at the oncoming racers. After the last wave of Cat 3 came through I folded up my tripod and sprinted back to the Cadence tent where I could start getting ready for my race.
That’s so touching Dean…
You will be glad to know that now you are mentioned. And further more, here is a picture of you. I even got your good side. Ha ha. I expect a five star rating now.
Houston, we have a problem
Full disclosure, there has been one thing I haven’t told you so far. And for good reason. I didn’t want to scare anyone away just yet…
So far through my morning I had been energetic, overjoyed and also suffering. I had a bad case of the upset stomach and about every 20 minutes I had to make a very quick dash to the port-a-potty. This is not the kind of thing you want to experience right before you suit up in spandex for the next 2 hours.
Here I was getting ready for my race and I felt AWFUL. It was the worst I have ever felt in any race to date (and yet still better than i have ever felt at work… hmmm).
Luckily my wife showed up to watch and had some pepto in her purse. I chugged a dose or two climbed on my bike and started my pre-ride.
Thankfully, after another bought with near disaster the horror was over, and just as we got up to the starting line. There were 9 of us in our age group for Cat 2, I was actually going to get a top 10 finish! Almost guaranteed!
Ready Set Go
Thank goodness for adrenaline. When the whistle blew I took off chasing down the rest of my group. This race, unlike the Sansom and OCNP race, I had a plan. This was especially important with the long climb to start off the race. Nearly a half mile of climbing to begin the race just to get to the singletrack. For this race at Erwin I was determined to pace myself slightly on the first lap and then make it up on the second lap.
It really shocked me that our group didn’t break up while climbing the road. And our group wasn’t alone. I thought to myself during the hill climb, “man this is really wierd, shouldn’t someone be pulling away right about now?”
But they didn’t, the group stayed together for about the first 2 miles and finally started breaking into smaller groups around the first field.
I knew I was doing much better than Sansom because my teammate Dean didn’t pass me until about 1/4th the way through the second lap. (He started 2 waves behind me, a gap of about 4 minutes) At Sansom he passed me before the end of Lap 1.
Unfortunately, this is pretty much where my mind shut off. The only other memory I have of the race was during the end of lap #2 when I started thinking about what I would put in this recap. I remember thinking to myself “I can’t remember anything, nothing!”
And that’s how pretty much my entire race went. I didn’t remember a thing up until the final segment where I broke into a sprint to catch the person in front of me. As I crossed the finish line my body suddenly experienced just how exhausted it was. As my wife was calling me over to congratulate me and talk to me I just pedaled away in a sort of exhausted daze.
I finally got back to my wife and waited on the results. when they were finally released I was stunned to find out that I had gotten sixth. Not only had I not gotten last, but I had actually beat someone who didn’t DNF (did not finish) from my age group.
That was entirely too exciting for me. I see it as the next big step in my already prestigious racing career. I suspect that the UCI will come calling soon wanting to draft me or do whatever they do.
Remember my buddy John that I told you about earlier who couldn’t decide whether he wanted to race or not? Well he did end up racing and not only did he not get last, but he took 5th place in the Cat 3 race. Another friend, Chris, I convinced to race prior to Sansom where he flatted. This time at Erwin he took first in his Cat 3 age group.
Let this be a lesson to you, when I tell you to race its because I know what I’m talking about!
The Cadence team had spared no luxury for this race since it was at the home trail. There were hamburgers, muffins that tasted like angels (Thanks Ann!), frosty cold beverages and much more. I ate for what seemed like forever As I crammed some food into my mouth and attempted not to talk with my mouth full I used my non food hand to help hand out the awards for Cat 1 after they finished. It takes a lot of skill to eat with one hand while the other handles a large stack of giftcards.
Finally the day was at an end. I say finally, but it was actually only 2pm in the afernoon. I helped the team pack up and headed home.
The race at Erwin Park was complete.