1999 Big Bear Norba Nationals #1 (May 15, 1999) - Results at the bottom - Medal|
6:30 PM Friday - Arrive in Yucaipa at my friend Jaime's house, who I hadn't seen since, well, exactly a year ago when I went to Big Bear as a beginner. Hang out, catch up on old times, eat good food, go to bed early at midnight...
6:40 AM Saturday - Wake up to my friend Jaime's voice. I do my morning stretches and toast 3 Eggo waffles and top it off with maple syrup and a tall glass of OJ, I pack my things and say thank you and good-bye to my friend. I head up the 38 East (the back way to Snow Summit), leaving at 7:35, it didn't take 35-40 minutes like Jaime thought, it took 50 minutes (and I was making good time, too), so I parked way down on Summit Blvd and busted my butt up the hill on my cracking 99 X-Lite to get my registration stuff and make it to the riders meeting on time.
4 sections for Sport. 6 for Expert/Pro. 4 for Beginner, I think. Section 1 for Beginner had to go through the downhill part of the sport course (we had to go up a different way, then down). I thought it was cool that Beginner had to go through the end of the sport course (definitely a challenge for beginner riders). Section 1 for Sport sucked, it was all endurance. I wasn't used to the 9,000 foot (I think) elevation's lack of oxygen yet, and I was so tired I dabbed 3 times my first time around (I clean it on the next 2 loops). It's just very steep, just a lot of hopping. Even the times I cleaned it I stopped to catch my breath 3 times in section by resting my left pedal on rocks or hardpack dirt (still got through in about 2 minutes). The other 3 sections were wet and muddy sections.
Section 2 - Starts off with a steep descent down to the river (fived it my first time because I took a stupid line and put both feet down (pretty close to just my left foot, but apparently I brushed my right foot on the ground). Expert/Pro went across the river and had to rear wheel drop in to the other side of the wall that sport had to get up. I don't think anyone but me got through the wall part without dabbing to get up. My 3rd time through I put my front wheel up on the wall (high enough so that you can't get your pedal on it from this position), then hip-thrust the bike and myself to bashguard. Now comes the cool part: I'm left (good) foot forward and facing the embankment 6 feet or so away on the other side of the wall, with the river below. Everyone else was sidehopping from the wall into the river. I gathered my courage from those watching... I said, "Do you think I can do it?!" pumping myself up for the move (I didn't want to faceplant into the river, that would've been embarrassing), and everyone's like Yeah! I pop up to rear wheel with a karate-style exclamation: "Hi!", let the front drop a bit, and gap all the way over to the embankment, completely dry, and grunted "Yeah!" to the claps and "Woo-hoo!"'s of the observers. That's the highlight of my trials career so far. Someone said "You don't see that kind of move in Sport..." Nope, not usually... I got through this rough section with a 1, dabbing later on where it was sketchy and I didn't want to do something stupid and get a 5. We had to go through the river at the bottom (unavoidable unless you can do like an 8 foot pedal-kick gap off a slippery wet rock.. I made it most of the way to where it was more shallow (I think it only got to about 3 inches at the deepest), and exited the section up the short hill. Yes!
Section 3 - First time through decided to go down this steep dirt hill by sidehopping my way down, but I hopped a little too far once, and ended up freaking out and bailing for a five. Second time roll the sucker just fine, crossed the river, then had to go down a log along side the river (with wet tires.. great!). There was a knob on the log right on the top half a wheelbase down, I tried to roll it, but halfway down lost my balance to the left (river) side and just hopped in, axles crossing the boundary tape for a 5. I think I was going too fast to dab outside the section and save it. Third time through I took a safety (planned) dab on the log after placing my front wheel on it, then put my bike on it and rolled off it from there, then went up the dirt hill for a 1.
Section 4 - This is the one section I didn't do anything stupid on my first (or second) time. You can either roll this steep drop and cross the river on some nasty looking little rocks (only Zak took this line), or you can inch your way sideways down this dirt hill and go for a 4+ foot left-hand sidehop drop in over the river to the rocky mud (not slippery mud) on the other side. This was of course the way that I went my first time, paving the way for everyone else, because I was confident I could do it.. No problem... Continued down through the river a ways, then you have to exit up this steep hill sidehopping. This sucked only because by this point, your brakes were so wet they were practically useless. Got out my first run with 1 dab, my second run with 2 dabs (brakes getting guckier), and 3rd run with 5 dabs!!! My brakes were so gone that I was slipping back inches before I left the ground, and inches more when I landed after attempting to hop up the hill sideways... Felt like I was getting nowhere and ended up dabbing all the way up when I couldn't maintain my balance from my brakes slipping so much. It sucked.. I was really pissed, but I kept my composure and didn't swear or anything, just yelled "Aaaaaaaa!" to show how hard I'd tried and how much I had wanted to get up, but couldn't. Oh well, those 5 points didn't matter, I was 9 points off of Zak in 1st, and 3rd place was a couple points back. I wish I'd been smarter in the beginning and not gotten those dumb 5's. I also wish I'd gotten a fresh grind on my rims before comp, because the little amount of grind I had was totally gone halfway through comp, and the mud and guck really made things worse. Anyway, I don't mean to be griping, just being self-critical...
I got 2nd in Sport Mod with 29 points (9 points behind Zak Maeda). Oh, I forgot to mention (seems like a good time to mention excuses, right?) that I cracked my Monty Thursday before the Saturday comp. It's the first-generation poorly-designed bike. Cosmo's sending me a 3rd generation frame. But the Monty held up.. the crack got bigger during the day and made reassuring creaking noises the whole day! It felt just fine, couldn't really tell a difference...
After mod was done (we rode from 9-12, and stock went 1-4), Jon Maeda gave me a goody bag of stuff because I was going to judge stock. In the bag were ATI slim grips (great, because my grips are starting to rip), a sandwich, drink, 2 you are what you eat bars (chocolate fudge and apple cinnamon.. yum!), some GT posters, a Boy Scouts hand towel, and some other cool trinkets. Jon, you rock for giving judgers a goody bag!
Next up, stock! I judged section 3 for all levels. It was split up into two courses: one for Expert/Pro, and one for Beginner/Sport. I started out with judging Expert/Pro. Watching JJ, Chris Clarke, and Richie Houdek go through the courses was awesome, they make everything look easy. I missed Lenosky going through it, but I heard he cleaned it, too. There was this higher than handlebar height up onto a big log that they had to get on in the beginning. JJ got it with a big run up, but Richie had trouble getting up, hopped off and landed on both tires (what a save!) and put his right foot on the top-tube and dabbed-up it. Next come some funky rocks, which no one really had any trouble with, then this nice-sized 5 plus foot drop down to dirt, then across the water with a rock in the middle, and then a steep hill of rocks with wire over them. I didn't get to see sections 5 and 6 for Expert/Pro, I just remembered right now, and I'm smacking myself now... Hope someone took pics/video... Reed?! Joey?!
After I was done judging, I went riding some more. Seemed that the night before's Cheese Tortilini and that morning's stretch gave me a little too much energy! There's a stack of hay out there, and I played around with that for like an hour, and eventually (like 30 minutes into my practicing) some riders came over and played around on it with me. I did this 5 foot rear-wheel drop from the top of this wobbly hay stack, which was pretty cool. I spent more energy practicing than I did in comp. Dang I love these light Monty's! Which reminds me, I rode a beginner's Monty X-Stam (new v-brake one upgradeable to canti-mount magura's). The bikes have the same geometry and feel much the same, just a little heavier. A great bike for the money, to be sure. The beginner was stoked to see me doing stuff on his bike on the rear wheel comfortably, spinning around, and side-hopping straight up in the air high on it. I think it's powerful to see someone doing cool stuff on the bike you ride when you're a beginner, because it cements it into your brain that, yup, you don't need an expensive super-light bike to do this stuff, you can do it on a sub 24 pound Monty X-Stam with a price tag of around $575... I totally recommend the bike... and I'd recommend an X-hydra to beginners if that's in their price-range.
Later on, JJ Gregorowicz was messing around a little bit on his stock bike in the evening with the rest of us inbetween playing hacky-sack with Monica Thompson and some others... He did this one awesome move... A nose manual down a flight of stairs (8 stairs, I think). Yes! Down the STAIRS! He made it look so smooth and easy! That's one for the next video! He also did a surge to rear wheel onto this object a little lower than handlebar height, and made it look easy. Just sick! I asked if I could play around with his bike, and he says of course. First thing I notice is that his bottom bracket is loose, but it didn't really matter. The bike feels pretty nice, although when rolling backwards, something creaks something awful.
I finally met the infamous Joey Hayes of Observed Trials Magazine. He had a box of OTM #6's that he wanted to get rid of before the trip home. So Scott, Richie, and I went at it and took extra's for our friends... I asked Joey if he had any OTM stickers since I was going to need one for my new Monty frame, and he says he's making another run of them when he gets back. We chatted a bit about the trials comp he's going to put on this summer, and it promises to be really cool, complete with bbq cooking!
I talked with Scott Thompson awhile about the new (3rd generation, I think) 99 X-Lites. He says the new wheelset is the same weight as Shaun Miller's old 1/2" drilled-out wheels. They look nice, with a titanium-like finish to them. Radially-laced front, of course, but the real funky thing is the radially-laced non-drive side and 2-cross drive side rear wheel! I don't know, I think those are gonna prove to be weak. There's now dedicated brake booster mounts on the underside of the seat stays! What a brilliant idea... Scott was running a Topo that he said he had to bend out to get to fit right. His rear brake felt very solid, I was impressed...
It was getting late and we were all hungry, so Scott invited us all to dinner at this Pizza place down in Big Bear. Scott and Monica and their parents were there, of course, as well as Richie Houdek and his dad, Josh Barney and Bryan Radcliffe, and JJ, Reed Merschat and ? who showed up later and sat at a separate table keeping mostly to themselves. The pizza was great and we all had a great time laughing about the day and chatting. Josh and Bryan were ganging up on me to convince me to move up to Expert, which was flattering. I replied that I would move up when I stopped making stupid mistakes and wasn't afraid of sure death in Expert sections. Josh said that you never stop making stupid mistakes, I disagreed, saying that I could definitely make less stupid mistakes, if not mostly eliminate them. Richie and his dad and Mr. Thompson talked about American V8 engines or something, which just went over most of our heads. Scott threw some food over at JJ (obviously a little peeved that he was beaten.. hahaha just kiddin' Scott!) and some bs was exchanged. Well after we had all finished eating, we were nicely told that the place was closing in 5 minutes, so we all filed out.
Walking over to our cars, Scott told me to show JJ and Reed my squirter. Ok, you need some history between Scott and I for this to make sense... After a ride we went on together, I was in my car (Silver 86 Volvo 740 GLE) waiting for the light to turn green, and he rides slowly by on his bike in the crosswalk, about 6 feet or so from the front of my car, totally normal, and I nail him with my squirter for fun (just water). It's stronger than a super-soaker and comes straight out of the top of the Volvo grill, well hidden, and shoots out about 20 feet and 6 feet high. He thought it was the funniest thing, and remembered it this night. Ok, so I show JJ and Reed the squirter, hosing down some guy's poor house from my parking spot, and they're just laughing and Reed sticks his finger into the stream just to see how strong it was. Funny stuff - everybody got a good laugh out of it. Hey, if anybody at a comp wants a cool-down, just ask me, I'd be happy to hose you down with my squirter! hahaha.. Just keep an eye out for the pimp-daddy old-skool silver Volvo with gorgeous 5 spoke rims. =p
On the way out of the parking lot... Josh and Bryan first out of the lot, then as it's my turn to go (with Reed and JJ in the big van behind me), I inch out into the sidewalk, and some guy on an xc bike slams on the brakes and smacks the passenger side front of my car! He's fine, rides around the front of my car and gives me a dirty look, like it was my fault.. Never mind that it was like 10 at night, he had no light, no helmet, and was riding on the sidewalk... moron... I drive into the next driveway, check my car for any kind of damage.. None (come on, it's a VOLVO! ;-p), hop back in and take off, catching up to Reed in the van. We roll down our windows while rolling along Big Bear Blvd. and I'm like "What the f@! was that?! Did you see that?!" They couldn't believe it either, I said goodnight and floored it and went back to Yucaipa to my friend's house to grab some stuff I forgot and then went back to the UCLA dorms, getting back at 1 am. What a day! What an awesome day!
Everyone was so nice... We are so lucky to have people involved in trials that are nice, friendly, and helpful. Bryan insisted on treating me to dinner (which I was very thankful for, although I tried to pay, because I'm pretty broke right now). I can't wait til next year!
This event was run by Jon Maeda with section help from JP Sickler and Steve Arrowood.