The trip started by stuffing way too much stuff into 2 cars, we had 5 bikes, millions of bags, and 5 bodies to get to the airport. After attempting to get our bikes on to the plane for free we headed to the gate defeated, on the way there we managed to pass many VERY IMPORTANT and LOUD people talking about very important business on their cell phones. A connection to Atlanta went by quick then we all got on the plane for a 5 and a half hour ride to San Jose. I managed to sneak my way forward to a front row seat for some extra foot room. Finally we arrived and were met by Aaron's father with a pick up truck and his cousin with another car. After a good 12 hours of travel we finally arrived to Aaron's grandparent's sweet farm in Hollister CA where we would be staying for the week.
The next morning we got our bikes together out of our cases and packed up the truck to go preride the cross country and hit up the gigantic expo. The course was great, about 20 miles long, the terrain was amazing, wide open, with some fun singletrack and sandy sections. It was going to be a pretty crazy race without a doubt. Friday we headed over to the venue for some more preriding, expo ing, and the Super D race. I was the only one doing the race and thanks to the incorrect schedule I almost managed to miss my start, great! So I rolled up with a huge herd of riders for the open 19-29 men's group. The start was a lemans start, something I had yet to experience. Some of these guys were pretty serious about the run, so I decided to trot over to my bike since the longest run i had done since cross season was, hm, maybe I haven't ran since then, well maybe floor hockey with the cycling team at school, and that didn't work out to well. So I figured I would use my cyclocross mounting skills and such to get ahead. We were off, and I was the last to my bike, people were already going down into each other and trying to clip in, so I grabbed my bike and sprinted on foot ahead of the herd and jumped on into a full sprint. As we got going I was in the lead group and almost instantly a guy went down right with me, so I ran over his bike and kept going. After that the race was over, there was a 5 man group about 50 feet ahead, then me, then the pack a little farther back. I attacked and caught them all on the short hill, which apparently was the only uphill. I was told there was a climb at the end, so I figured I would attack again and be right up there. I let 3 guys with bike full suspension bikes go on the downhill, figuring i would blow by them on a climb, then i heard bells ringing, and saw a finish, Sh**%$*! Oh well, I got a top ten and had the most fun I could with my hardtail. I cant wait for the next one those are great.
Saturday quickly became the official Lees-McRae massacre as our top freshman destroyed the semi pro short track event, including beating up on a local bike barn rider who was out there. Eric (junior short track national champion) took the hole shot and led the start of the race. Right away a 3 man group formed with Eric, Mike (collegiate short track national champion), and John Peterson (Bike Barn). Mike took over the front and after a few attacks managed to drop John and Eric. Eric held onto second and Mike took the win. I was busy spectating/shooting photos all day so I didn't get a chance to ride, so I did my openers back in Hollister on the farm roads. I rode into the wind for 40 minutes, and was back home in 15 or 20.
Sunday we got up at some stupid early hour and headed over to the venue. It was pretty chilly, the whole weekend was actually, apparently CA can be cold, no one told me. Trebon called me soft after I was complaining about it on Saturday, so I tried to shut up about it after that. As we pulled into the parking lot we got some great words of encouragement, apparently some dude died on the DH course yesterday, great! So we all got in a good warm up and headed to the line, Eric, Mike, and Aaron went off first for the semi pro, I had an extra 15 minutes before my group went off so i just rode around the speedway. As the race went off we went pretty easy in a pack drafting around the speedway. A few guys decided attacking in the first minute of a 40 mile race was a good idea, so we let them go and caught them anyways before we hit the dirt. I started the race towards the front, somewhere around top 5 and settled in to a good pace. When we finished up the 1st lap I started to feel pretty cooked, I don't know why I had been eating and drinking like crazy. So we started in the second lap and a couple of guys blew right by me, this was going to be a long 20 miles. As the lap went on I totally blew up and just went into survival mode, letting whoever pass me whenever they wanted. Finally I got across the line and met my teammates. Mike had finished 2nd after getting picked off in a spring, Eric was top 10 and Aaron top 20. We then headed over to the Cytomax trailer and grabbed as many free muscle milk's as we could take. After that I sat around and ate as much as I could, I don't think I have ever bonked so hard in my life. Somehow I managed to get a top ten finishing 9th in the 19-24 expert group.
After the race we headed over to Santa Cruz to check everything out and enjoy the area with our last night in CA. We got some good pizza, checked out the beach, watched some crazy people ranting about all kinds of wild stuff downtown, checked out some shops, and visited some friends. After that we headed back to the farm, packed up our bikes and bag, and passed out. The next day we said goodbye to our hosts and headed to the airport, to get on another series of long flights with crying babies, yelling business men, and terribly cramped seats. Oh and I almost forgot, we were lucky enough to get an hour and a half delay with our connection, our friend picking us up was really excited about that. Finally made it to Charlotte and headed back to Banner Elk. We stopped at a gas station and I was lucky enough to be harassed by a local who asked me "You ain't from around here is you?" and then proceeded to hassle me about not lending him 10 bucks so he could buy beer for him and his "girl" GREAT TO BE BACK TO NORTH CAROLINA!
The trip was great, first time to CA, 2 top 10's at a big race, and was able to meet a bunch of new people and see some old friends. Definitely hope to make it back out there again in the future. Thanks to Aaron and his family for giving us an awesome place to stay.