Race Report: Panarama Paranormal 2005

the threat of rain gave me great hesitation to attending this event
the days leading up to the race included much scanning of Weather.com
the doppler radar was green over Washington and clear over Charlottesville
the prediction was giving odds towards rain leading into and through race day
in the end the weather was awesome
it rained slightly right before the start which mucked the trails up
while during the race the skies were clear
there was the passing of some autumn clouds over the orange setting sun
but no more rain once the race started
an evening dew added more dampness to the tail end of the course that was already pretty well saturated
in short... the temperature was perfect
while the trail surface was not the pinacle fast and dry that I favor
not a mud bog
not a mud slog
but slick
slicker in some spots more than others

everyone dealt with the same set of variables
the rocks and roots were slick, very slick
there were many short climbs that better suited marching than riding
the ground hurts when crashing
but not as bad as slamming into the trees
I know as I did multiple comparisions of both
at times I felt like a ball in a Pachinko machine
hitting the ground was a pay out that did not happen every time

let me take it from the begining
here is how it all played out....

Race Report: The Panarama Paranormal
the Panarama Paranormal is a grass roots race that was being hosted for its third straight year
the race is a 6 hour event that is run either as one person solo or the two person duo
I was racing again this year with Chris Redlack
we were racing in the Clydesdale Duo class
there are many combinations for the Duo Classes
also a wide variety of solo classes... by sex, by gearlessness, and by size (clydesdale)
the event has a Halloween theme
cider, bonfire, some halloween docorations on the trail, and costumes
there were movies and more kids last year
perhaps the kids stayed behind for fear of bad weather
I know mine did

the race started with a run to the bikes
those with costumes got a 2 minute advantage

while the costume clad cyclist rode off into the distance
racers killed the prerace jitters with small talk
beside me was long time cycling friend and rival Bill Davis
we yapped it up reliving previous races
then the gun went off
we all went off running to our bikes

once at our bikes it was down a double track road, across some grass, and into the woods
Bill Davis and I were riding together like old times
only he has gotten faster
he is riding his geared double banger
while I am struggling on my single speed Karate Monkey with rigid fork
knowing of course it is more about legs and lungs than machine we choose to ride

we exchange back and forth for the lead
out of the woods into the next set of single track and we are starting to catch the costume clad racers
with polite passes we work our way forward

as we meander through the woods I tried to choose the wise line
thinking back to the year prior I tried to anticpate the terrain around each corner
my memory is not GOOGLE EARTH
it was like seeing things for the first time
a few things were recalled after I pass
but there was no benefit from racing this course the year prior
it is all unfamiliar
there was the knowledge of the type of terrain
but that was all

the first lap had it fair share of passing
the three laps to follow would invole the occassional need to pass and the occassional pass
but for the most part it was a dark, lonely, and potentially scary ride
there were tombstones decorating parts of the course
each I had memorize by my last and final pass
there were reflective arrows marking the trail
there were several huge mulch piles
each steaming from decomposition
some scare crows and halloween sounds on one pile
and the strong warm odor of rotting leaves and wood on the others
there were shreds of a racer's costume
the shreds were extra creepy as it was pieces of torn lace from a wedding gown
night riding can always possess a little feel of the Blair Witch Project
there of course was the usual nocturnal animal appearances
there were various birds, a field mouse, and some unusual phosphorescence
no owls, fox, or snakes
but they were most certainly out there
just not seen by me on my laps

it had been a long time since I had been on dirt
a few weeks earlier in Vegas and the Shenadoah Mountain 100 on Labor Day weekend before that
the eventual crashes had me timid at times
having broken my finger in my first race of the season
I did what could to prevent a serious crash
accepting there would be crashes
but avoiding what crashes I could

not only had it been a while since I had been on any real dirt
it had also been some time since I rode the single
there is a certain style and certain strengths to riding and racing the single
my time away from the single showed on this day
the wet terrain kept me from forcing bike up the climbs
in most cases I was on foot walking along side my bike

Chris and I did very little calculating or discussing things between laps
there was an exchange of a Halloween theme race bracelet
a congratulations
a good luck
then one person went to ride
while the other went back to our dual honda element base camp
with a glance at the watch we did not know our lap times
but could tell that we were doing sub hour laps
which would allow for that fourth lap for the first rider

I had taken the first lap knowing the risks
sure enough
we were consistent
Chris faster and more consistent than myself
the combined time sent me out 15 minutes before the 10 O'clock race end

my last lap was less than impressive
nothing to be ashamed of
but certainly not on par with our first 6 laps

the Panarama Paranormal is a great event
a great set of trails
a great gathering
it is a unique presentation that really carries the spirit of mountainbiking
everyone is there to ride, race, and have a good time
hopefully the weather will be better as I most definitely want to bring my family to camp and run around

yes.... I said that last year
I meant it this year
the weather did not agree with our plans

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