Santa Ynez NORBA National Mtb Race
Los Olivos, CA
Sunday, May 18, 2008

Report by Mark Salmon

After being out of racing for a few years, The Santa Ynez Norba National was my third race back in the saddle and first after reuniting with the Celo Pacific race team. Conditions were HOT! They were airlifting heat strokers all weekend. So much so that the organizers shortend the course at the last minute (more on that later). Apparently the hot ticket was to get a fast bmx style start to be the first one to the singletrack as the course was 95% singletrack and you had to beg to pass. So when they said GO that's exactly what I did.

Once on the singlestuff I just settled down into my rhythm, turned on the iPod and rode my race. The faster guys just made their way by and I naturally found the group that was going at my pace and we raced away. That's when things got confusing. At one major intersection, a volunteer directed about the first 50 riders the wrong way! He was later heard saying to the director that he "really screwed up a bunch of guys". As a result our race was accidentally shortened an additional 3 miles.

That aside, the course was really fast and fun. 40mph downhill singletrack with nice sea otter style climbs over beautiful rolling hills. The bike worked perfect and my decision to carry 2 bottles of gatorade instead of one paid off right away. There were bodies all over the course laying in the shade trying to cool down. I new something was up when the finish seem to come sooner than I thought. Rounding the last left hander onto the finishing straight I felt a nudge on my outside. It was one of the other guys in my class. Some yelled at me to Go Go Go and it was a drag race to the finish. Full blown sprint from almost a dead stop 50 yards to the finish. We both stood, glanced and sprinted at the same time. He blew a shift and I didn't. I crossed the finish at 28mph and about 4 car lengths ahead. for 4th place. Once again that's when things got confusing.

I guess by the time they figured out the volunteer's mistake, the last two guys in my class were directed the correct way. Tom, the race director, decided that we should not be DQ'd as it was not our fault yet the last to guys should not be punished either. So he decided to place the last two guys in 1st and 2nd and just shift everyone else down 2 spots placing me in 6th. Allowing us to gain at least some of the points. He did this to all the classes that were affected. Needless to say he had about 50 mad as hell racers on his hands. I made the decision not to be that guy, just shook Toms hand told him mistakes happen. Great race and I'll see you at Big Bear. He was very appreciative. Celo riders are good like that I told him.

A short time later, Penny won her first race in the 4 to 5 year old training wheel class of the Shimano Kids race. Her competition suffered major technical difficulties moments before the start when he threw crying fit, launching his helmet down the first straight away. Penny was able to capitalize on this and develop a large gap early on. After rounding the first cone she was able to settle in and maintain her gap all the way to the finish. After the race she was quoted saying "Is that it? I wanted to ride longer." Look for big things from her on the race circuit in the future.

All and all a great race weekend! Good to be back in the saddle and flying the Celo flag once again!!