Sometimes, it’s the simple things that can motivate you to do something that terrifies you. In my case, it’s chocolate that motives me to do pretty much anything.
I’ve never done a Super D race so my mom recruited a friend to “coach” me down the course on what would be my one and only pre-ride before the race. So, the night before the race I pre-rode the Super D course with Pro racer, friend, and Mad Cat teammate, Clint Claassen. Clint was awesome and coached me through some of the tight turns and fast flowy, burms. He was wonderful to ride with but not entirely prepared for the way I shut down when we arrived at the very end of the Super D course.
At the bottom of the Super D course at US Nationals, there is a rock ‘waterfall’ that is about 15 yards long and full of pointy, jagged rocks. When I got there on my pre-ride, I took one look at it and hit the brakes. Nope. Clint says, “Do you want to follow me down, Avery?” My quick response being, “NO, no I don’t!” Numerous people offered to lead me down and coach me through it…no thank you. I’m pretty sure I stood there, staring down the drop-off for over 20 minutes.
Alex Wild (a Pro U23 rider) rode up the steep hill and pulled up along side me and said “Psyche out party? May I join?” I grunted at him (Aren’t I charming?) and continued to psyche myself out.
I’m not sure if it was the fact that I was being bothered while in psyche-out mode (I say this in the nicest way, Alex) or that I hated this stupid rock drop, because I was afraid of it. I sat straddling my bike staring down the rocks and watching others either ride down it or take the long go around option to avoid it. There was no way I was doing the go around option, but I wasn’t going down the rocks either.
“Averyyy. Smile, unhappy child.” I’m almost positive I glared.
“Smile. Think of your brother’s face.” I smiled. A little.
“See? You aren’t gonna win this game. I can make you smile.” Man, if looks could kill, he would be very dead.
“What’s your favorite candy?” I’m sure a snarl and growl would fit my facial expression pretty well.
“Skittles? M&M’s?” Grrrr….
“Come on.” Fine.
I asked if I could follow him down it, and after riding at it and stopping at the top ledge a few times, I took a deep breath as I came around the turn. My heart did an intense acrobatic routine as I let go of my brakes and rode it. It was smoother than it looked, and as certain I’d been that this waterfall was a death trap, it really wasn’t so bad.
I followed Alex down it one more time and then once on my own. And what do I have to say to that? YES I CAN. Alex asked me at the bottom, “What kind of candy? You get three, one for each time down.” I laughed and said. “Hershey’s. Three please.”
The Super D was the next morning and I was scheduled to go LAST. Last because I was the youngest and lowest category , the 18 & under Women’s division. The full Super D course was fun, a short fire road climb and then a long, switchback descent to the bottom. I had a slide-out crash (I was fine) on a turn, but I cleaned the rock ‘waterfall’ (whoop whoop) and placed 7th in the Open 18 and under Women (Cat 1, 2, 3). I was super happy, because I was the first Cat 2/3 after all the Cat 1 girls. I was recognized as the All Mountain winner for the Women’s Cat 3 division!
So thanks Alex, for joining my psyche-out party, sticking it out with me, and for the chocolate.

And thanks to Brian Butler for the tips, my parents for the support, and Clint, again, for the goggles(styles for miles!)

Keep chasing…

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