Vail Lake. The venue of SoCal Endurance’s 4/8 Hours of Temecula, which never fails to disappoint. We just can’t seem to get enough of this series. With a course that boasts over 80% singletrack, fast, flowy downhill sections, and punchy, lung-burning uphills that come in at over a 20% gradient, you’d better believe that the Troupers would be there, itching to toe the line of our official 2017 season opener race.

At 9am sharp, the race was under way, and Troupers Michelle, Jeanine, Kimmi, Tim, JJ, and Jeff all went out for what was sure to be an exciting day on the bike. As we all found out fairly quickly, the course was sharp, punchy, and quite climb-heavy. SoCal Endurance had set up a 9 mile course that boasted 1300ft of elevation gain per lap, a true mountain biker’s course.

Michelle held a fast pace, pulling the 4th fastest female lap on the course according to her Strava time. Of her race, Michelle says, “It's been a while since I had to put in a sustained race effort after coming off ‘Cross last Fall. I had to dial it back after the first 2 laps, eat, and find a pace that could last 4 hrs. On my last lap, I hoped to gain back some spots by taking some risks on the descents, but I crashed in front of the photographer. Needless to say, I was tentative, and lost a lot of time, but still ended up 5th. I’m excited that the 1st race of 2017 is in the books. Time to plan the next one.”

Jeanine also raced in the Solo 4 Hour Female Category, and had a chance to get a feel for her new Santa Cruz Highball, which she said performed great, aside from a derailleur jam on her first lap. She was so blown away by the bike, in fact, that she said that she can’t wait to keep on climbing! “My favorite part of the race were my improvements on the steep climbs and switchbacks,” says Jeanine. Other highlights included the encouragement she received from everyone that passed her as she hiked her bike into the pits to fix the mechanical, as well as our new favorite recovery concoction of Carbo Rocket Rehab mixed with Troupe Racing Roastery Espresso, freshly pulled from the Wacaco Mini Presso. After she finished her race, she proceeded to cheer on her teammates in the pits, whilst sipping her well-earned recovery/espresso drink. “I look up to my teammates, so being able to cheer them on is always a blast!”

Jeff Lewis also competed in the Solo 4 Hour, and posted some fast lap times. He went out hard on his first lap, and didn’t let up on the pace. “Vail Lake is always a good time, and I’m excited to have the first race of 2017 in the books.”

Kimmi, JJ, and Tim took on the 8 Hour Solo, and found the course to be gruelingly steep, yet were all determined to keep their “racing wits” about them. Kimmi entered the race a bit fatigued from training for her Solo SS effort in the upcoming 24 Hours of Old Pueblo, but managed to get in 7 laps, clinching a 5th Place Female finish on the day. “It was a good confidence booster for me to see how the legs have been responding to training these last 2 months in a proper race environment. I went out a bit fast on the first few laps, and feared that I overdid it too early. But thankfully my hours in the saddle this winter paid off, and I still had plenty of juice in the tank to keep laying laps down.”

JJ had an amazing day on the bike. “I’ve never done a race longer than 6 hours,” says JJ of his race, “so this was uncharted territory for me, being an 8 hour race. My legs felt pretty good right from the start, despite putting in some heavier training these last two weeks. I knew if I kept my foot off the gas enough on the punchy climbs, I could maintain a decent pace for the 8 hours. In the end, I went out just fast enough to edge out the win!”

Tim also had a solid day on the bike, taking on the 8 hour Solo. “For me, I always under estimate how physically demanding Vail Lake is. I tend to forget how steep and frequent the climbs are and that always catches me. So it makes it hard to approach this as a "training race" because surviving 8 hours of this course is really tough. You have to come prepared and with plenty of climbing miles in the bank.” 

The SoCal Endurance Series is always one that we enjoy racing, especially the first one in the year. It’s a chance to test out new gear, see friendly faces, and of course, get back out and do what we love: race bikes!


Tim VanGilder

mission viejo