The first week of July we sat down to discuss the “idea of Over the Hump”. We envisioned a fun, family friendly, grassroots mountain bike race bringing the mountain bike community of Orange County together. The Over the Hump Series launched at Irvine Lake in August was the culmination of that meeting. What’s followed has been better than our wildest dreams.
Tuesday’s race drew mountain bikers from all surrounding counties. The grass by the lake was alive the entire afternoon. Families, kids, sponsors and Over the Hump Volunteers were milling around. The anticipation and excitement of the 2nd race getting underway was obvious. A couple of simple changes to the event area made it a great place to pull up a lawn chair, visit the sponsor’s tents, shake off some pre-race jitters, or stop by one of the local shop’s tent for quick bike adjustment.
If you weren’t there it might be hard to believe, but Tuesday was a testament to the fact the Orange County Mountain Bike Community is powerful, motivated, and most importantly ready to play! 400+ spectators came out to cheer on Over the Hump’s second and final inaugural season sold out race field. It was a bit cooler, by the lake, than in August, and as the sun set over the hills, the energy continued to peak as the crowd rolled in. We had several spots to sell on sight, and the line to get those spaces started at 3:30pm, a half hour before registration opened.
As six o’clock rolled around trials and adventure mountain bike legend, Hans Rey, kicked off the festivities. Hans said “I’m super stoked. This is much needed and I’m glad we now have a place to race. Good job…keep it up!” It was a contagious energy hovering around the start…I got goose bumps just looking out over the deep crowd of racers, all lined up to take off chasing after not just a race win, but also grab another set of points to add to the series standings.
As the horn blew local SHO-Air Pros Sid Taberlay, Manny Prado along with August 26ths Women’s Expert winner Tonya Bray led out Expert racers along with the other 371 racers. Expert racers had 4 laps ahead of them, Sport 3, Beginners and Juniors 2. The road out of the staging area was busy with two way traffic for the next hour and a half, with the dust tamed by a water truck that ran the course right before the race.
There were some great race highlights, as Sport Beginner and Juniors, alike, were passed by the Expert pack that stayed 8 strong through the first 2 laps. It later broke up, bringing home a repeat top 3 finish for the Expert Men and Women.
Of course the stories go much deeper from Tuesday’s race than just the pros performance and speed. More than a handful of racers came up to Over the Hump staff and thanked us for such a great event. Doug, a Beginner 40-49 racer said, “Thanks so much. I haven’t raced in over 10 years, and this just made me feel like a kid again.” He wasn’t the only one, and the smiles said more than any encouragement, or words could.
We spotted another notable story, as we stuffed race numbers in envelopes on Monday night prior to the race. As I alphabetized the entries, there was 1,2,3,4,5 Dulacs. Mom, Dad, and daughters Samantha (12), Makayla (11), and Danielle (9). 5 people, 3 under 13 years old. It’s important to us to be providing a venue to develop new racers, and allow kids, beginners, enthusiasts, experts and pros all to hit the dirt together in a very unique mountain bike race experience. It was so cool to see future mountain bike star, 9 year old, Danielle Dulac, race on the same course, at the same time, as 1st Place Women’s Expert and former pro Tonya Bray. In fact as the race went on, we realized we now had a Women’s Junior’s Class to add to the mix, which was missing in the August 26th race. All 3 Dulac girls not only finished the race it was a 1,2,3 finish for the Dulac girls!
After the race the crowd gathered out on the grass for the race results, and the final series points finalists to be reveiled. As we waited, Project Rwanda’s raffle took place and winners were announced who received a Crank Brother’s JoplinR seatpost, a Park Bicycle tool set, a month supply of Sambazon among other prizes.
Crank Brothers, held a semi-secret competition, which was had a hi-end purse. John Dang, who raced Tuesday was sporting a Crank Brothers wheel set and went home with the title “Biggest Crank Brother’s Fan” and a new $400 set of 4Ti pedals.
Oakley equipped fasted young rider Series Winner, Matt Tenure( Men’s Sport 1 (under 29)) with a Holeshot watch valued at $650.
Expert Series Final results were:
Women’s category: 1st Place – Tonya Bray, 2nd Place – Vicki Chernoff, and 3rd Place – Annabelle Nenninger.
Men’s category: 1st Place – Sid Taberlay, 2nd Place – Manny Prado, and 3rd Place – Dana Weber
All 2009 Over the Hump Series race and series winners can be found at http://raceoc.com .
As we sit on this side of the last 10 weeks we’re excited by the way Over the Hump Mountain Bike Race Series has taken on a life of its own. A life fueled by racers and fans from counties wider spread than just Orange, of every age, level and ability. Some have experienced racing for the first time, and promise to be back, and many seasoned racers have told us how much they enjoyed the vibe and race at Irvine Lake…they too plan to come back.
Over the Hump will continue in 2010 by bringing Orange County a full weekly series, along with plans for an Endurance race, and a few other plans along the way. Stay up to date, and find all the results and other info on Over the Hump Mountain Bike Series at http://raceoc.com
Thanks again for coming out and supporting Over the Hump Mountain Bike Race Series. It’s been a fun ride, and we look forward to seeing you on the trail.