Apr 27

2005 Groovy Gravity Games

The 2005 Groovy Gravity Games took place at Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area in Livermore, CA on March 20. This was the 5th GGG put on by Team Wrong Way. My buddy Rich and I decided to do the DH race. He�d done it last year and had a great time. It was my first time on the course. We figured we�d try to give something back, so we signed up to put in a day helping build the course.

We showed up the Saturday before the race to see what course designer Blake Von Knopka had planned. We didn�t get it. There was a jump sideways across the track at the beginning, sure to send people off course. He was putting in a tabletop jump on an uphill section after sand. No one was going to have enough speed. And the rock jump� people were supposed to come flying downhill, into a berm, and hit a dirt ramp that propelled you over and through some BIG rocks. We figured Blake was a bit crazy, but we worked hard to do our part. We helped build up a big, beautiful berm at the bottom of the course and hauled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of rock up from the gully to MAKE a rock-garden. Then we had time for a test run before we headed home.

Okay, Blake, I�m sorry I doubted you. The course rocked. The first jump across was a great speed control/skills check. The tabletop was easy to clear, but only if you pedaled instead of catching your breath. The rock jump was the best feature on the course. We hit it over and over to “practice.” A little scary and a lot of fun, it was the perfect combo.

We headed home feeling good about the work we�d done and looking forward to a fun race� Using www.OwntheTrail.com, I posted a course description so that everyone could share in the anticipation.

During the week, the rains came. We kept checking the forecasts, but it was not looking good. How would the course ride wet? We just didn�t know, but there was a lot of Internet speculation. Saturday, we showed up for practice, but the course was too wet for the planned shuttles, so we had to hike to the top. It was a death march. The mud was so thick that the wheels wouldn�t turn. My Vans skate shoes had no traction and the bike was carrying an extra 20 pounds of mud. After a pathetic cruise down the course, we went home. We weren�t sure if it was even going to be worth showing up Sunday for the race. We went to bed troubled by the patter of rain on the roof.

Sunday morning we figured we�d try one more practice. As we headed out it was raining hard in Newark. We thought they would have to scrap the race and that the parking lot would be empty. But, when we got to Livermore, there was a good size crowd, record-breaking I found out later. The course looked okay, and the sun was peeking out of the clouds, although the day was still not dry enough for shuttles.

Tech Tip of the day: Spraying PAM cooking spray on the tires helps keep mud from sticking.

With our freshly non-stick bikes we headed up. Wiser from yesterday�s hike, we stayed in the grass and made it to the top with clean/mud-free tires. The course was PERFECT. I hit all the jumps, carved the turns, and nailed the rock jump. I felt if I put together a race run like my practice, I could be happy. Rich confirmed that the course was great and that his practice run left him wanting more.

The race began with Pro�s and Experts taking full advantage of the great conditions. Several sub 2 minute times were announced. Then the rain started. As we climbed to the top, we watched the beautiful course turn into evil slime. Rider after rider was sliding and flopping down the course. By the time we started they had taken pity on the racers and shortened the course, eliminating one of the steeper sections.

The race is a bit of a blur. I know I fell more times than I�d like to remember. Lines that I had carefully planned on a dry course were meaningless. I kept falling and I kept getting up and pretending I was in a race. When 2 knobby tires can�t find traction, smooth-soled skate shoes aren�t going to keep you upright. I think my fall count was around 6. My time was around 7 minutes.

My buddy Rich fell once! Just one fall in all that slime– he must have a gyroscope hidden somewhere on his bike. We met up at the bottom of the course and hung out in the stream to get some of the mud off. By the time we put the bikes away they had the results posted.

I was shocked to get 4th in my class. Rich took first place in his category, and would have taken 1st in the next fastest category. Good job, Rich! We hung around to get our medals in the rain, but decided to call it a day when it started to HAIL!

The GGG was filled with ups and downs, but Rich and I had a blast. We helped Blake build a great course and watched it turn into a mud bog. If Team Wrong Way puts on another race, they can count on seeing us there next year. Thanks for a great local event Team Wrong Way.