BY : KIMMI RUNNER
It's easy to know what race you're at when lining up for the start of Pedal Fest's annual 6 Hour Santa Claus Grand Prix, as one glance left and one glance right will undoubtedly include someone dressed up as a Hawaiian shirt-clad Santa. Other "racing kits" included, but weren't limited to, the following: ugly Christmas sweater jerseys, Santa hat-covered helmets, red Rudolf noses, and candy cane socks. It was clear from the start that this race is all about fun.
As it was my first time participating at this event, I wasn't sure what the course entailed, and was pleasantly surprised as we quickly veered off what turned out to be the only 100 yards of fire road the 7.3 mile course had, and onto a punchy, rocky climb. It's clear the fine folks of Tehachapi Mountain Trails Association take a lot of pride in the maintenance and upkeep of their trail system! I found myself quickly regretting my decision to forgo front suspension and race it rigid, (a quality problem however, in my humble opinion). The course meandered up, down, and around the main mountain a number of times, and in that mere 7.3 miles, we all got a taste of everything; technical steep climbs (where I was grateful to have opted to bring Carbo Rocket's 333 Endurance Fuel with me, as it kept me topped-off with plenty of energy for the punchy terrain), fast descents and rock gardens, where Kenda Karma Pros were the perfect choice for a bit of added grip on the trails, and flowy ribbons of singletrack that one can't help smiling on.
The wonderful quality about this event that stuck with me most was the fact that everyone, from the race's speedy leaders all the way to the newer racers out there, had something positive and encouraging to say. This kind of camaraderie is what first got me hooked on endurance racing, and the thing I thoroughly enjoy most about it. It made the rocky, singletrack-filled hours fly by, as I quickly found myself finishing my 6 laps in 4th Place, not too far behind 3rd.
I'm certainly adding the Santa Claus Grand Prix to next year's schedule, and I'll be sure to remember to bring some reindeer antlers for added Holiday Cheer.