Downhill couldn’t be more different from cross country racing. There’s no time to think, or be afraid. You have to be right on the edge of control and chaos. That’s how you win. Just hold it together and get ‘er done. I’m having consistent success in downhill this season, because I’m getting much better at controlling my bike and being able to keep myself focused on my lines. My confidence is so much more solid this year than last.
My first Northstar race of the series was the Sticks and Stones race two weeks ago. I was having a really good race run until I crashed hard in a rock garden about halfway down the track, and knocked my front brake lever out of reach. It cost me about 10 seconds to get back up, and probably 10 more the rest of the way down as I was shaken up and rode pretty cautiously. It was a big bummer for me. I still had the fastest non-pro women’s time of the day, but I knew I could’ve done better and that always kills me a little inside.
So, when I came back to the next race, I wanted a clean run more than anything. It was on Karpiel and Pho Dogg, a course that I was less experienced on, and I had a small crash in practice that morning. Not the best start, but the best thing for me was to keep composed and focused on the run that mattered. Just get ‘er done.
I had to stay completely focused on the top half of the course, through a constant string of switchbacks, rock gardens and small drops. I stayed upright and pedaled as hard as I could on the long fire road section. I was so relieved when I came to the final set of S-turns and hit the last jump. One last few pedal strokes, off the ladder drop and across the line. I turned my head back to look at my time on the board, and punched the air with satisfaction. I had a nearly 20 second lead. That felt so great. It was one of my best, cleanest runs I’ve ever had.
I had the fastest non-pro women’s time of the day by 18 seconds, which I’m really happy with. I finished the day with some awesome runs, and did a big drop on Boondocks, the Pro GRT course for this coming weekend. Hopefully I’ll be able to put down another clean run on Boondocks this weekend. Look for results Saturday afternoon!