Hey all! So, I got to spend this last Friday and Sunday up at Northstar at Tahoe. It’s a great destination for downhilling, with great trails that are very fun and challenging. They also have a great Downhill race series there over the Summer. On Sunday I raced the third race in the series,Karpiel to Pho Dog.
In downhill I am still a Cat 2 racer. This was only my fourth DH race ever, and I am still very much learning about downhill racing. There are many elements very different from Cross Country racing. I pre rode the course like crazy the Friday before my race, by the time I was in the start gate I had been down the course almost 15 times. I spent time watching pros come down the techie sections. I felt super ready, I knew I needed to float through the rocky bits, keep all 5 fingers on the bars as much as possible, and see if I can drag bar in the corners. Riding for fun with friends might be about steaze and show air, but race time boils off all the excess and is simply unadulterated speed, low and fast; straight as an arrow. That is what the race run is about. This is all going through my head as I was waiting with my friends at the top. That and my coach, Paige (Baxter) Ramsey, a former pro downhiller, shouting at me to stick my “ass out and get low, damn it!” and something about a fork somewhere… Anyway, coach may have some weird analogies, but also she also has excellent coaching and serious experience.
Then I was up in the gate. The countdown; those 6 sounds you hear in your sleep.
Beep beep beep beep beep BOOP
And I pedal off the line, feeling like a dragster as I hit the shifts effortlessly while I crank out the speed, before I drop gearing in prep for getting out of that corner as fast as possible. And then I repeat this all the way down the hill, mixed with some gut wrenching sections where I will myself away from those brake levers, using every muscle in your body to guide the bike though the rocks in the perfect line, an inch either ways throws me into the trees at this speed. Hop skip, pump, be water, flowing right over everything that is in the way.
I shot through the rock sections, barely holding my line, I even clipped a tree at one point with my shoulder, but I just kept pedaling.
Then I was in my element, what I’ve done for years. The pedaling. I was cranking like mad over the fire road, before drifting back into the single track. I pedaled right around the big rock hit; this was my race run. Flowing into the next pedal bit, into the Daytona berms, low and fast over the stadium jumps, and then off the ladder across the line.
I ended up in 5th and I am happy with that. A bunch of USAC Cat 1 racers downgraded out of the Cat 1 class to avoid Fabio Falls and Vietnam (very technical sections) and raced the Cat 2 course. This was very frustrating and so very wrong in my book. Sandbagging to grab podiums makes me so mad. No one should be able to downgrade because their course is difficult. If I had really been racing Cat 2, I would have been 3rd. Regardless of my finish results, sandbaggers SUCK!! Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox.
Now about that steaze I mentioned earlier… Well, post race is the time for that. Fun times and show air! At one point we had an epic train of 5 guys, all of us about the same speed and skill level, coming down live wire. It was soooooo cool, we were all constantly switching positions in the train and boosting like crazy. It was probably the coolest run I have ever done at Northstar, and I can’t wait to do it again.
Tomorrow is the Pro GRT on Boondocks at Northstar. I won’t be able to make it, but I wish best of luck to everyone racing, especially my little Sister Avery (aka Kiddo).. I was stoked when I recently taught her how to ride Big Daddy drop on Boondocks. That was a cool sibling moment. And yeah, my 14 year old sister hits 6 foot drops. What does yours do?