Monday, May 4, 2009

Xterra West Cup Championships--Like Riding on the Moon

With pretty much every Xterra race convenient to Los Angeles canceled this year due to the evil economy (Temecula, Snow Valley, Castaic...hasn't been on for a few years), the rise of the Xterra West Cup Championship at Lake Las Vegas was a godsend for off-road triathlon junkies.

And, judging by the turn out, it was also a godsend for off-road triathlon junkies across the country vying for a slot to the Xterra World Championships. The turn out was phenomenal--"the Caveman" Conrad Stoltz, Melanie McQuaid, Josiah Middaugh, & Shonny Vanlandingham were there, among a ton of other rad racers.

When Mr. Xterra '07, Will Kelsay, came up to Coachubby and me after preriding the course, he exclaimed, "Oh, it's so shady, and there's tons of single track!"

I looked at the completely barren hills around us. It looked like we were on the moon.

Will is a joker.

It's anyone's guess how long this race, put on by Sunset Racing, will last, as it was held on a scraped-off development site no doubt stalled in progress by the economy. There was no natural plant life, no nothing. Just dirt, and rudimentary roads that made up the bike and run courses.

I loved it, as the lack of much single track meant there wouldn't be too many slow-swimming dudes rudely yelling at me to get out of their way as they tried to get back with the pack on the bike. There was plenty of passing room on most of the course--and the dudes got a head start. There were wave starts at this Xterra, because the man-made beach at the Loews Resort (the host hotel) was dinky, and couldn't have supported all of the racers diving in at once.

I loved the wave starts, too; the ladies' wave was small, so I was never poked--not once!--during the swim. An Xterra first. (The Temecula swim, I recall, was particularly cutthroat.)

Then, the run. Oh sorrow. Terrible sorrow.

I didn't even put my running shoes into transition, knowing I'd want to run for it if they were there, and in doing so, set back the healing of my dumbass sesamoid bone.

I came in off of the bike, walked over to the timing people, gave them my chip, then hopped on Qeee, my mountain bike, and took her for one more loop of the bike course, while everyone else ran straight up and down a mountain--twice. In the middle of the day, under relentless sun.

I probably have a warped sense of how awesome the race was due to my not having run, but I loved the whole thing. Minus the very depressing dropping out part.

How many races have you ever started knowing you weren't going to finish? I'd say it definitely made me take my time racing to enjoy everything, rather than go for it. Not a bad way to enjoy a Saturday. It's just not any way to get a medal either. Or really push myself on the bike.

Lake Las Vegas is a strange place. It's a man-made oasis in the middle of the desert. And while it's gorgeous, and opulent, it's hard not to cringe at the complete non-eco friendliness / unsustainability of it all. (This coming from a Phoenician!) While Coachubby and I lounged on a bed on the hotel patio, I got a blast of air conditioning every 10 seconds from the roofed open-area of the hotel. No walls, 80+ degrees outside, and the air conditioning was what? Cooling the patio? Not cool.

If you want to forgo the opulent hotel, there's camping at Lake Mead for $10. Coachubby and I did that. It was very romantic, and very quiet. Until ridiculous winds (think 30mph +) came in around 9pm, when we went to bed, and continued to lash at our tent all night long. Sleep never came. Visions of lifting off like in the Wizard of Oz did, though.

And somehow, sand flew in through the windows. A veritable dust storm that somehow penetrated our tent. I woke up covered in sand, and had a nice microdermabrasion session around 1am, free of charge, courtesy of Lake Mead State Park.

If this race happens again next year, DO IT! The race organizers were super friendly. As always, Xterra people are helpful, kind, and crazy--a good mix. And the setting is equal parts gorgeous and strange, lush and lunar--all a 5 hour drive from LA.

Race on, Xterra people!

PS. Coachubby got 2nd in his age group, a freakin' awesome accomplishment made even more freakin' awesome if you have seen his bike--an old hardtail Klein. His handling skills are off the charts!


  1. Btw, do you know Meiling Yee? She's a friend of mine who kicks butt in the 45-49 age group at Xterra (she won world's in her age group the same year you did I think - 2007). She was racing in Las Vegas too. Just don't call her an old lady - she's a beast!!!! :)

  2. I don't, but I just checked her results, and she kicked mega arse! I'll bet she whooped me on the bike!

  3. I'm seriously bummed about no Xterra races in SoCal. I'll probably do only two total races this year and not make it to USA Champs or World'd like I wantd to. :(

  4. I figure this is a good year to do cheaper local single stuff--like trail runs and mountain bike races--then next year (or whenever Xterra returns full force) we'll all be so fit, we'll blow the pants off of the competition! :)