Ruby Race Report.
The Championship Point Series travelled to Ruby Campground for race #7 on Sunday Aug 5th for the first time in about ten years as a series race. I always enjoyed this course in the past and was looking forward to going back. Joni and I drove over Saturday to camp overnight for the Sunday event. There were light rainshowers a couple times over the course of the night but on Sunday morning under cloudy skies, the ground was stone dry. But rain threatened. Sure enough, just before the elite and expert 10am start, a steady drizzle ensued. This is my fourth CPS race toward the minimum five required for trophy consideration.
The course was just over five miles long and comprised of three sections:
Section #1 was right off the start and went west into the trees, along the creek and through some gravelly sections. It had a couple short climbs of about 30 yards but the tricky thing in this area were the numerous wooden bridges crossing over small drainage and feed steams to the Ruby Creek. Many had patches of chickenwire squares on them to aid traction but were still treacherous under wet conditions.
Section #2 started when you crossed the main campground road from Section #1. This part wound through the woods to the ridge which separated the campground into two sections. THere was really two ridges (see image). The first ridge meant a ride along the benchcut into the side then turning UP the hill (which was steep) and riding up a fairly steep grade (8%?) to a switchback which then took you to the top where the trail became flat and led to the end of that ridge with a fast armoured downhill, across a road and then along the bottom of the shorter ridge, a turn and climb, ride back along this ridge followed by another steep downhill which required control due to the trees at the bottom, then a turn onto the camground road and a run to the creek.
Section #3 (approx 2.2 miles) was entailed crossing the creek, riding twisty trail to the bottom of another ridge, eventually climbing to the top, riding flat twisty trail to the downhill switchback, then back to the creek where we crossed about 100 yards upstream from the original crossing – and then to the lap/finish chute about a quarter mile away
The attendance was small so Brent decided to lump all the 10am racers into two categories in order to award prize money to some racers: 39-under and 40-over. Consequently, lining up against a dozen “40+” racers I didn’t really know who my competition was in Expert Men 50+ with one exception-Frank Roth. Frank was my nemesis at the Hanson Hills race about which I previously wrote. So I knew he was a good climber and would beat me on any non-technical course especially if it had long steady climbs. But I’d ridden two laps on Ruby Saturday and knew it to be a technical course with weaving flat singletrack and several good downhills including one with a double switchback. My goal was to get in front, gain distance on the technical sections which would provide buffer for the slow climbs.
The start in the rain and we were into section #1, I passed Frank in the first mile or so and kept up steady RPMs to weave through the trail. As expected, he closed the gap at the switch backs and steep climbs of section #2 but I remained in front, gaining a gap again as I hit the stream crossings.
The creek was low and both crossings were rideable, with water not even to the bottom bracket (except for one deeper spot on the return crossing). But it is debatable whether riding is faster so opted to run all 8 times in my four laps.
Once across the creek, I put steady RPMs through the winding trail until I got to the climbs where I once again lost time to Frank and Katie Krikke (they were pretty much riding one in front of the other most of the first two laps). However I really gained time on the downhill switch back on lap one- approx 30 seconds. I found out later Frank fell on that downhill. On the second lap around after I’d completed the descent and was weaving through the woods I saw both Frank and Katie walking that switchback down.
But then disaster struck! Through the lap chute and back into section #1 for lap three I started getting really bad chain suck, forcing me to run up a couple small hills. I also had the chain pop off the back cassette in between the wheel and big cog twice on this lap forcing a dismount to pull the chain out. This ate into my entire lead and soon Frank and Katie were right back behind me on the climbs, with Frank passing me at the top of the climbs on the long ridge of section #2. But I gutted a sprint passed him to be able to go into the armoured descent first and created another short gap.
On to the creek crossing and into section #3, with Frank now only a few seconds behind and Katie no longer visible. The climbs started and on a short climb with a good long rolling downhill the chain suck hit again. I ran up the hills shifting the derailleur and got it un-stuck and jumped on the bike to cruise downhill- and my jersey got caught on my saddle and I couldn’t mount the bike or clip in and I was already rolling downhill and -WHAM- into a tree …”sonafabi#$@” I shouted and backed off the tree and re-mounted the bike. I rode along as quickly as I could with Frank only 5 seconds or so behind and realized I had nearly NO rear brake. Hitting the tree had crimped up the brake cable and housing. At best it would slow me a little but not stop me. I turned to go up the switchback climbs, dismounting to run the last one to the top this time as I figured it would be faster and then gutted a steady spin along the top of the ridge’s winding trail until the downhill section- Bombed down it, spin through the woods, run the creek, ride into the finish and was about 18 seconds ahead of Frank- tough ride – good competition. Despite some mechanical issues, my strategy paid off.
But it gets better. Brent had combined us all in a 40+ group and did a podium based on that grouping of which I placed 9th of 12 racers. But once Brent published results online Monday morning in the CPS age brackets I was
FIRST PLACE with Frank taking second- we were the only two in the Expert Men 50+ category