Summer Biathlon amongst the Fall colors in the Fraser valley! Yep, that is right, the warm-weather version of the Winter Olympic sport of biathlon was held Sunday. It combines running or mountain biking with rifle marksmanship. The running or cycling course includes four shooting bouts using a .22 rifle.
In the winter you use skate skis and carry the rifle on your back as you lap around the course. A nice no traffic drive up I-70 at 6:30am towards
Lots of clear cut at the YMCA now that the burn happened but Nordic center was in good condition and the trails ready to ride. I Showed up for the rifle range safety brief at 8:45am. An hour later I have my official summer range card and I am in the prone position letting those .22 bullets flip those funny targets you only see at the winter Olympics. Five shot bouts and I am 5 for 5, 10 for 10, and then I try standing and shooting….5 for 5, and then 2 for 5. I knew beginners luck would run out quick but this still seemed easy. Now I wondered how this will be coming in hot and breathing hard, trying to hold a rifle steady and hit a 11cm circle at 50 yards. UMMMMMM. Lots of strong skier types walking around in the normal skate ski garb.
An hour volunteer with the running race (keeping score, reloading magazines and resetting targets) and then the kids’ mountain bike race started. Two kids tear out on 20 inch mountain bikes and one on a 24incher—they rip it up and then get to shoot pellet rifles at 25 feet. Masters division takes off just after that—serious looking folks with $3K to $5K German made biathlon rifles that make my loaner look like a squirt gun.
Then my class gets to start. They call it sport, but the front row look like expert or semi pro mountain bikers with Ti frames and full kits. Then there comes me, on the cross bike—not by choice but because I decided to wreck the maverick and destroy the stanchion on the brake side, which in turn tore the seal and sprayed oil all over the rotor and pads. Did not get it fixed Saturday night completely even though TJ hooked me up with a lower stanchion at the shop on Saturday. Bummer as everyone is chuckling a little as someone mentions how bumpy the course is since it is mostly cut down grass. They were not kidding either. A few minutes into my first lap and I am dropped quickly and already wondering to make the appointment with the dentist for new fillings.
The race consisted of five laps on the bike with four rounds of shooting in between each lap. You take 5 shots per round and if you miss a target, you get to take penalty laps around a small loop, one for each missed shot. I find the gun I practiced with and then set my self up and pull the trigger…JAM!...great way to start. Then another jam…and even one more. So, each time I get a little more frustrated with the rifle and spend my time fishing my gloved hands trying to remove bent casings. Now I know why folks want their own rifles to use. I remove my fogged glasses and then try a couple more shots…nothing—5 penalty laps for me. I watch the pack pull away—you learn quick that Penalty laps SUCK!
There is hope, I pass two guys on mountain bikes on the flat sections, get leaped frogged some on the rough stuff but with the muddy sections and dismount/runs I pass them again. It is amazing how much faster you can run through things if you know when to do it—thanks Jon for those great clinics on Tuesdays!
End of lap two, rain started and it just got more fun after that. Decided to try a different rifle on the second round but that turned out to be a bad move as the sights were misaligned…2 for 5 again. Yes! 3 more penalty laps. As I am on my last penalty lap, the leader of the race in “sport” so called it, laps me. Penalty laps really add a lot to your time. Each main lap is only 1.2 miles but it adds up when you have to do 5 extra laps around a small oval.
The 3rd and 4th shooting rounds go better as I move back to the rifle that was jamming. No jams, and even got a target with each round, so not as many penalty laps. All in all a great fun day. Everyone should try this out! I think I was 3rd or 4th in my age group but the venue was small and the cross bike was not the tool of the day for sure. Basically try racing in the grass that we practice on Tuesday nights for an hour straight but throw in some mud pits and wet the grass a little, maybe touch it off with a few wet aspen leaves scattered hear and there!! See you tuesday at CX practice. John
Great job everyone at the cross race this weekend.For more info and winter races see: http://www.coloradobiathlon.org