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2015-13-04 – Napa Valley Dirt Classic – Race Report by Ron Shevock

There is an indie pop-punk band from my former hometown of Philadelphia, PA called Beach Slang that I have been listening to a ton lately.  They came across my radar as I’ve listened to each of the band members respective previous bands going back 15 years or so now to my college days (edit: um, possibly 20 years….).  So it was interesting to hear what these guys are up too lately and even with a grand total of just two 7″ releases to date, these eight songs are so have found regular rotation on my playlists lately with their raw un-produced sound, catchy hooks, and heart-on-sleeve lyrics.

So at races, I tend to always get a song stuck in my head that sort of becomes my mantra during the race  and this year’s version of the Napa Valley Dirt Classic was no different.  These songs serve the conflicting roles of both calming my nerves and also firing up and motivating me.  The song for me for this year was Beach Slang’s “Punk or Lust” off of their Who Could Ever Want Anything so Broken 7″.

Specifically, there is an infectious anthemic, line at the 1 minute mark that goes: “THIS MACHINE. LET IT BLEED. LET IT EXPLODE!”.

(link directly to lyric at 1 minute mark)

Anyway, having a mantra of “This machine. Let it bleed. Let it explode” sung in my head over and over again may have been a poor choice for this race as I have suffered extremely bad luck each and every time I have done this race.  For example, let’s look at my Strava titles for all of the Napa Valley races I’ve ever done:

2011 – “NVDC MTB Race – Made Wrong Turn, Rode in Circles, Doubled Back a Few Miles UGH”
(2012 – skipped race, was probably still lost riding in circles)
2013 – “NVDC MTB Race – 2nd Pro SS (Broken Chain Cost Me First UGH)”
2014 – “NVDC MTB Race – Mechanicals and Speeding Tickets, Not My Day UGH”
2015 – “Napa Valley Mechanical Classic  UGH”

So each time I have done this race, I have had a mechanical that negatively impacted my race, or even when I didn’t have a mechanical, I made a wrong turn and got lost…..

Bit of a broken record. UGH.

So singing “This Machine. Let it Bleed. Let it Explode!”….was a great mantra to shout it my head as the gun went off and our Cat 1 class hit the gas up the start line pavement and I got impatient as no one out of our group of 40 or so REALLY seemed to want to hit it so I exploded to the front, took the holeshot, and led the charge onto the dirt and up the first climb stretching the field out until the mandatory run-up climb where I slowed then and allowed for a group of 6 or 7 of us to come back together so I had other riders to work with through the next flat and fast sections.

“This Machine. Let it Bleed. Let it EXPLODE!”…was a great anthem to shout at myself as our group bled watts, poured sweat, and shed a few more riders off our backs and we were down to myself, Curtis Smith from BP, Cole Davis from Limitless Cycling/Folsom Bike, and two other riders that I did not know.  I believe just Curtis and myself were in the same Cat 1 35-44 age group, so I was stoked that we were leaving others in our wake and so I just kept on shouting…..

“This Machine. Let it Bleed. Let it EXPLODE!”….and kept pushing.  kept smashing as my quads flared in pain soaring up hills and singletrack to stay with the group, and push the pace over the whoops section and through all the super fun shady leafy singletrack on this classic MTB’ers course.

“This Machine. Let it Bleed. Let it EXPLODE!”….while on the edge of control, drifting turns fast with tires hooking up in just the last seconds before disaster. Hurting, but feeling good knowing that everyone else here is hurting too…we’re in this together. Smash, smash, smash.

This Machine. Let it Bleed. Let it……”….ah #$@! it DID explode!  On a choppy high speed straightway, about an hour into the race, I was downshifting and smashing pedals chasing Curtis’s wheel when the chain went flying off.


This Machine…”…..”it is bleeding, it has exploded” I said to myself as I looked closer and noticed that the chain was not just off, but it was kinked 4x’s around itself and the derailleur was out of whack.

“This damn machine”, I quietly muttered to myself as I burnt 7 – 8 minutes or so un-kinking, re-kinking, and finally untangling for good the chain and then got the derailleur back in line and in functioning order.  I’m not sure how many people passed me by on the trail.  A lot.  Curtis would go on to win our age category and Cole just edged him up putting up the fastest Cat 1 time of the day.


So for my next mantra, the Beach Slang song stuck in my head, for the remainder of my “race” was:

“This city sleeps in a pattern of broken junk, but nights like this, it don’t matter. All this dirty fun”

(link directly to lyric at 20 second mark)

Roughly translated paraphrased and interpreted into:  “These races sleep in a pattern of broken junk, but rides like this, it don’t matter.  All this is just dirty fun”

Ended up 9th out of 18th after all of that.


Next up, Sea Otter Classic.

EDIT:  Bonus, more Beach Slang tunes.  Intimate acoustic set via NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts:


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