2014 Turn and Burn Six-Hour MTB Race

and with one photo i could have saved so many words. says it all.

Once again, the organizers (Cycle Events Company) of the annual Turn and Burn race succeeded in selecting one of the most ungodly, uncomfortable, unforgiving days of the year to hold a mountain bike race. The day's temperature was predicted to stretch beyond the century mark, as in 100º Fahrenheit. I had thought the fire in Cleveland National Forest might cause some air quality problems, but whatever currents were swirling through the great blue yonder were moving the smoke in a direction away from Bonelli Park. 

Instead of smoke, riders had to contend with the lung choking dust that Southern California's hillsides often cough up this time of year. The water coolers were both popular and a necessity for riders, whether they raced as a team or solo. Unfortunately they frequently were not enough to stave off the onset of cramping leg muscles. Throw in those steep hills that characterize the Bonelli landscape and riders were faced with the very real potential of being turned into buzzard bait, face down in some lonely backside draw or hollow.

Riders who enter the Turn and Burn Six Hour race can do so as a solo rider, or as part of a team, teams with names like Blazing Jack Rabbits, Dumb and Dumber, FatSnails, White & Brown Sugar, Team Fart Bags, B.A.D. Goats, and 2 Big Fat Dicks - the announcer couldn't convince himself to say that last one, and I can only hope it referred to a couple guys named Richard. Most people raced geared though, as ever, there were some brave, or foolish, souls who raced single speed. Either way, solo or teamed, single or geared, you would probably have ended this day scorched and burned. The difference, of course, was if you entered as a team you could share that scorching and burning, trade off lap by lap, rather than suffer it all on your own.

As the day wore on and the sun rose higher, racers seemed to retreat into themselves a little more each lap, a survival mechanism. While the descents were a welcome relief, they were all too short, and inevitably were followed by another grueling climb. Maybe it was the mutual suffering, maybe it was the spirit of the sport, but no matter how hot and tired they may have been, riders found the ability to joke; they did so in the team area, at a hilltop water station, along a dirt road section of the course where they could ride side by side for a moment before turning into another single-track descent. They may have been competitors, but they were competing together, through the sweat and sunburn, through the leg cramps, through the questioning of their own wisdom - a camaraderie in every sense of the word.

I finished with four hundred fifty-five photos from the day; from those I selected one hundred five for the Flickr album, which you can access by clicking here. Don't see what you are looking for? Let me know.

fast turn

full speed

a blur

throwing a little water into the background lowers the temperature by ten degrees

up on the hills

talk around the water cooler

duel at diablo

she has her own socks (if you know who this is, you might know what i mean)

steaming along

Shaka, brah - hang loose

first photo of the day. funny how a total mistake can end up as one of the most interesting