Flying High(LUNA Chix DH Clinic)

Everyone who knows me knows that I am MOSTLY a cross country racer. Sure, I race cyclocross, crits, and road but my focus has always been on cross country. My intial requests to try downhill were shot down by my mom, repeatedly. I finally wore her down. This resulted in a trip to Northstar to ride with a trusted and experienced DH friend (that’s you Eddie). I had a blast on my first trip to Northstar, but I did spend a lot of time frustrated, ok, so I was downright annoyed, that I couldn’t complete table top jumps. It was a day of casing jumps and I wasn’t in a pleasant mood. Thankfully, a few weeks later, my mom signed me up for a downhill clinic at Northstar with Marla Streb and the Tahoe LUNA Chix. I convinced my XC racer friend, Julie Barton, to join me in the padded-up fun.

The first few hours of the clinic were spent doing drills at mid-mountain. Things like braking technique and cornering. It was a good review, and great to learn some new techniques. My friend Julie and I dug into the lunch of burgers and fries, and asked one of the instructors if we could sneak in a run down Livewire before lunch finished. A group of four of us headed up the lift to the top of Livewire. I was finally able to clear some of the tabletops that stumped me on my first visit there (YAY ME) and we blazed a quick run. We rejoined the group after lunch for more runs down Livewire.

A lot of the riders in the clinic had cross-country bikes, and were getting bucked into the air on the tabletops, so Marla sessioned a couple tabletops showing us how to suck up the jumps. I listened closely, but I wanted to jump.

After hitting Livewire two more times, we headed up the other lift to ride some rockier trails. Marla taught us basic wheelie skills (throwing the front wheel out for drops) and then we headed down Sinuous, and then Karpiel. I rode Karpiel behind Courtney, one of the instructors, and in front of Julie and Marla. We cleaned the section, which was super fun. Once we regrouped, Courtney, Julie and I hit some singles on the next section of Karpiel. I almost stacked it face-first on one that had a weird landing that was half concrete slabs and half dirt.

The others got to laugh at my silly shouts of happiness after clearing the big tabletop on Manure Pile that I’d wanted to clear. I love riding Manure Pile, and Marla let me demonstrate some doubles for the group. It was that time I realized I was being an eager little grom, always the first to try a feature and always the first ready to keep going. I think the instructors were a little amused. By the time we got to mid-mountain, some of us wanted to keep going and make the best of the 30 minutes we had left. So a group of six hit Livewire again (the quickest run we could think of) and I went crazy on the jumps. The only down side was Livewire was super torn up and dry. We were running out of time, so we raced down Lift-line just in time for the clinic raffle. I had the chance to chat with Courtney and Marla a little, which was super cool.

I got a lot out of the clinic, and my jumping skills especially improved.

Thanks to Eddie Fontes for the pads, Kirstie Douglass for the bike, Marla Streb, and all the LUNA Chix instructors for all the awesome coaching!

Keep chasing….

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