Showdown at Corriganville

What is going on here? A Duel in the Dust? High Noon at Vendetta Village? The Corriganville Incident? No, but the MTB CX Eliminator - Dual in the Dirt Duathlon Series combined the best showdown action from any of the old westerns filmed at the rocky site of Corriganville in Simi Valley.

Corriganville's rocky hillsides and shaded draws played host to a series of duels between morning and high noon on the hot Sunday. If left out in the sun too long I am certain some of those saddles were indeed blazing. (Like it or not, and i am sure there have been enough by now, this post is going to be one long series of puns).

Eyes narrowed in the brightness of the morning sun, sweat rose on brows, ran like rivulets of blood down arms, caking legs and faces of those who had already eaten dust during earlier hours. The air was still and tight with tension. Not without precedent, but still rarely seen anymore, the showdown got underway with a hot-footed LeMans start. There was a twist to it though - after the protagonists laid their steads in orderly rows, ready for a quick getaway, the kindly folks watching from the shadows snuck out for a little rearranging. Some mounts were moved, while others were turned in the opposite direction.

Let me explain a little - this was the dual duel part of the morning - teams of two fighting it out in tag-team format. Each rider raced a single lap before strapping a cx ankle timing chip to the leg of their racemate, who went full-bore for the next lap. So riders were switching every pass; this kept the folk at the start/finish well entertained throughout the proceedings. Most pairs raced on mountain bikes though two, or was it three, chose to mount up on their cyclocross bikes.

Much like a cx course, this one was laid out in a similar spectator friendly style. Not quite as tight perhaps, it did wander out to circle around a rocky promontory, but much of the action played out within easy hoofing distance of the stone-walled remains of the old town. The trail taken by the lead outlaw and those who chased in pursuit moved between slick rock and sand-filled depressions. It was a good day for chaps as riders bushwhacked through expanses of buckwheat which clawed at their legs, the hoofs of their mounts seeking traction, while overhead hung the branches of large, majestic oaks, any one likely to host a rope swinging party.

It was while out in those back of course, desolate areas that i would occasionally catch sentences echoing off the rocks. Whether they were spoken today or came from long ago, I couldn't tell. Things like "little sister, I was born game and I intend to go out that way" drifted through the leaves. "To hell with them fellas. Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms" coursed along the dry stream. Those words could have come from the mouths of riders competing today, or they could just as easily have been dredged up by churning wheels, set free from the dirt and dust packed down by the weight of years.

something just short of a chaotic start

Quick draw, hole shot, same thing - only one comes out first

making your way, warily, through a narrow defile. i believe this is where the ambush is supposed to take place

emerging from the sandstone like a hazy mirage came a rider on a pale horse. and hell followed with him

Fast Friday's father / son duo

the tag team part of the game - handing off the timing chip at end of lap

the end came with arms raised in victory, rather than surrender...

and though others made their own hard charges to the line, words rebounding from the rocks mocked those efforts - "you see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend, those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig."

If you are unfamiliar with Corriganville Park, it resides at the eastern end of Simi Valley, below Rocky Peak, an area I have always called Tomac Country. It was long used by Hollywood studios for filming, and was especially favored for westerns. It also catered to tourists and weekend visitors; you could ride horses there, indeed my mum was thrown from the back of one in her younger years, at the very spot. Eventually the sets were dismantled, the film fans left; some foundations and stone/concrete walls remain, but mostly it is a quiet and bucolic spot between cities. There is a terrific interpretive-signed trail with markers pointing out natural points of interest, and others related to the Hollywood era. I am hoping they will do some more races there; when I asked her, Dorothy (whose SoCalCross organization was one of the primary organizers) suggested they might be able to squeeze one in during November. I hope so, it seemed super fun, and if anything could tempt me to break my pledge not to race mountain bikes, it would be this race.

Anyway, I have made you wait this long, but no longer - here is the Flickr link to a select one hundred eleven photos. There are another three hundred fifty or so tucked away on the computer. If you don't quite see what you are looking for at the Flickr album, let me know, and I will see what I can find.

By the by, thanks go out to the Triple Threat / Newbury Park Bicycles folks for letting the wife share their shade tent. Our little dachshund must have picked up a thorn which either worked itself out, or she managed to get out herself. She is back to normal - wanting to go, go, go.