Let’s start this off by saying how much I love the Mt Hood Ski Bowl pro downhill track. It’s a mans track, real DH, extremely fast, rough, loose, gnarly, terrifying. But that’s why I love it! So for stop #3 of the NW cup that’s where we headed. Well, where I headed on my solo mission. My first USA cycling sanctioned Pro race. And man was it a doozy! I drove up Saturday morning as practice didn’t start until 2pm. I met up with Spencer Burback, a local from Sandy OR, and did a course walk. Ya, it was gnarly as usual! There were a few small changes on the lower half of the track, and cannonball had been turned into a speedway! Practice went really well! I was feeling really good about my riding and line choices by the time practice closed.
On Sunday morning I headed up for a practice run, it started off good! And then went terribly wrong… I had two fairly bad wrecks in the rock garden but managed to come out unscathed. But, as I finished my run, I got a little bit loose and tweaked my knee really bad! And with no time in between practice and seeding runs I got directly back in the lift. I couldn’t put pressure on my leg without getting some pretty intense pains. But I was going to give it hell.
I took my seeding run pretty easy, just tried to ride my lines with a decent pace. Didn’t really pedal much as I tried to save my knee. I qualified in the mid 20s out of 40 riders. At this point I headed straight to the truck to get some ice in my knee and figure out my race strategy as there were some big name guys here. Bryn Atkinson, Luke Strobel, and current course record holder Mikey Silvestry. Amongst many other super fast guys like the FreeHub team, Dunbar cycles team, and many more.
My race run went really well, I was carrying a lot of speed, my lines were dialed, I hit the rock garden clean, I was smashing the woods section, popped out of the trees into the last few loose corners of the track and was holding it wide open. Now for the last bit of the track. A long downhill pedal section… My brain says pedal, my legs say ok, but my bike? It says no…. Something had gotten lodged in my chain guide and my cranks were now locked up. Ahhhhhhh!!!! I stomped my pedals back and forth… Still stuck. Pump over a couple water bars and now there’s 100 yards of track left… I try to pedal one last time… And it worked!! I sprint as hard as I can towards the finish crossing the line bummed out and frustrated. I reluctantly checked my time and too my surprise I went faster by 4 second over my seeding run. Placing me in 15th overall in a stacked field of World Cup and National level pros. I was a bit bummed, I really would have liked to pedal that last bit too see what I really could have done. But all in all, I was happy with my run. And I had a great weekend of racing! My Unreal Cycles, DVO backed, Santa Cruz V10 worked flawlessly thanks too my man Derek Starr for all the work he did on my steed. And a big thanks to the Burback family for the hospitality!! Until next time….