Not only did I not have any major goals for Dville this year, I had to get talked into doing it by my friend at the last minute. My family and I are moving to Wenatchee on the 12th and things have been busy. But as my friend Matt reminded me, “Jason, you said this was your favorite race from last year; and btw, you got 2nd.”
Race didn’t kick off until 9:35 for us so we were able to sleep in our own beds and got there with plenty of time.
As others who have done this race would surely attest – the atmosphere at this race is 2nd to none. The town of Sierra City quadruples in size for the race (no real data, just a guess), with presumably everyone who lives there volunteering.
My biggest concern for the race, in true road race prima donna/weight weenie fashion, was how was I going to get fed on top of Packer Saddle. Last year I had the whole family there so Kerri was able to give me a bottle but not this year. I figured I could probably find a friend with a significant other to assist. And I did!
As I said, I had no real goals than the obvious – don’t hurt yourself – but I did think I could do well and maybe win the thing. But as I bumped into my former teammate Nate Freed, whose fiancée Janelle was going to feed him (and now me), Nate let me know Jesse Miller-Smith was racing as well, and in my group. This gave me pause. If you don’t know JMS he holds the KOMs up Geiger (beating Bobby Julich’s record when Bobby was still racing) and Mt Rose, among thousands of others. He is a world-class climber, so things just got a bit tougher.
We started, and as predicted, JMS took off a couple minutes into the pavement climb and was quickly by himself. There were a few other eager beavers and I entered the dirt in 5th place. I quickly got by 2 and then 5 min later got by another but couldn’t see Jesse.
One of the great parts about mountain bike racing, and especially Dville, is the effort you need to expend to pass people (or get passed by people on the DH). Almost immediately into the dirt we were catching Pro Men and Women; I must have made 10-15 super-spin efforts to get by people through unfriendly lines but I had to keep the pressure on hoping JMS would flat and I might see him again.
I topped out, got my feed and started the singletrack in 2nd place. I felt good.
From here my main goals were to limit how many times I got passed. Last year I yo-yo’d with a few people and probably got passed by 20+. I’m no slouch going down but there are some serious riders in this race.
So far I made it through Sunrise and baby heads w/o getting passed, flatting or crashing so I was happy. But I hadn’t passed anyone either (other than on the climb between DHs) and still no sign of JMS.
The trail seemed quite a bit rougher and dustier than last year; I talked with several riders from last year and everyone thought conditions were more challenging and the times showed it. Last year Carl Decker won the race in 1:55; this year Levi won in 2:00, with Moeschler and Decker right behind them.
But I was feeling good and finally about half way through the descent I caught Jesse. I was on Marc-Pro/Strava a few years back with Jesse and we are pretty good friends, so I felt okay talking a little shit to him. I screamed “Ah Jesse, I’m going to get you!” I then asked him if he flatted (I meant this seriously, not as a complete d*&^head statement). He told me he’d been cramping. I asked him if was going to make me earn or if he was going to let me by. He let me by.
If he was cramping, and assuming no mechanicals, I thought this was the end of it. But I kept the pressure on. About 10 minutes later I got passed by the fastest/craziest descender I’ve ever been in a race with. It’s hard to describe how much faster he was going than me but I was actually scared for him. This rattled me for a minute and resulted in my crashing as I was approaching the bridge before Misery hill. I somehow landed on my feet (much practice dismounting bike) which got a huge cheer from the aid station volunteers and I caught my bike before it ended up in the river. I got back on and proceeded to stack it up on the bridge and some other guy got by me.
Last year I thought I won this race. My friend, Stosh Bankston, who finished right behind me also thought I won. Somewhere near the end of the race I’d been passed by Garrett Heitman and I had no idea. So having these 2 guys get by me concerned me a bit because I didn’t recognize them from the pros and I also didn’t know where Jesse was. I kept chasing.
The pivotal moment in the DH was about to take place and it was foreshadowed in a discussion with my friend Matt on the way to the race. He was talking about a section of the course near the finish where there is a BIG rock. I had no clue what he was talking about as I’ve only ridden the DH 3x. He said you’ll remember it this year. And I would. As I approached the big rock it looked like I could ride up it on the left side but I hadn’t shifter properly and was in too big of a gear. I got about half way up and quickly jumped off my bike; this thwarted the progress of the 2 pros behind me and to my surprise JESSE! He was right on my ass. Everyone had to get off their bikes and the pros got in front of Jesse with me in front of them and I quickly got a gap on him.
From here there was some flowy singletrack, some fireroad flats and descents and the pavement into town. I went into TT mode and never saw the others again.
But I still wasn’t sure if I’d won and the 2 guys that passed me were at the finish line, so I looked at their numbers. Sure enough, different categories. I won!
The race course is cool (epic really) but the event in Dville apres race is amazing. There are vendors everywhere, a bike check, bike- river jumping and beer. I recommend everyone does the race at least 1x.
Thanks to Sierra Buttes for putting on such a great event and thanks to Folsom bike and all our sponsors for their support.
P.S. I do have my Folsom jersey on but they gave me that winners jersey and felt obliged to put it on.