So, ever wonder why mountain bikers wear armour? I can tell you why. Because when they crash it saves their sorry butt.
The Duncan DH was not my finest race. I got to signup later than I wanted this morning. That was a bad sign. I rushed, got my gear together and got on the first shuttle I could. I got to the top of the race course and did my prerun. My shoulders were tight, my feet were aching, and my arms were on fire. Other than that, I only made a couple mistakes on my pre-run.
The pre-run did point out that the finish line was not where I was expecting. This was good news since I was expecting an uphill sprint to the finish line, and this new ending saved me from that. 🙂 Whee.
I hoofed it back to the shuttle point. The sun was out and I was baking pretty good in my armour. My brakes felt a little off on that run too. Did I mention that this morning, before loading my bike in the truck I added a few pounds of pressure to the tires? Eh, no big deal.
Shuttling back to the top I sat in the back of the pickup. Besides being very dusty, it cooled me down nicely. I hiked to the top of the course and waited. And waited, and waited, and waited. Seems there was a miscommunication, and the beginners were sent to the wrong spot. They started late. My race number was 207. Thinking the intermediates were in the 200 range I thought I wouldn’t have to wait long for my run. Wrong. The numbers were doled out randomly, and I guess race order was signup order. I paid the price for arriving late, and was 3rd to last in the race order.
No big deal really. It was a nice day (beautiful blue sky, temps in the mid 20’s). But the bugs were out. My legs are covered in bites.
When time came to get in line I got my gear situated and got my mind thinking about the course. It was a long one, and I needed to remember that.
When I was next to go I felt pretty focused. I was in the right gear, I was amped, I wanted to ride.
I heard the 5 seconds to go and started my stopwatch. I heard 3, then 2, then 1, then nothing. They never said go, so I left anyway. The first section was really easy, and I had no troubles with it. The rest of the race was all downhill from there (pun intended).
On the next section I screwed up. My brakes were a little cooked, and on one section I reefed on the front brake a little too hard (carrying too much speed). The terrain was a shale like substance with tons of grip. Unless you lock your front wheel up, which is precisely what I did. The bars turned, and over I went. When I stopped sliding I got up quickly, and ran uphill to my bike (lame crash). My left lever had twisted so I put it back in the right spot, jumped on the bike and took off. My left hand hurt a little, and I could feel gravel underneath the armour on my left leg. I chided myself on that stupid mistake.
Not 30 seconds later I did the same thing again. WTF was I doing. I was pushing myself too much and needed to calm down.
Thankfully I reached a fun twisty bermed section in a clear cut. I was able to breathe a little, calm down, and pedal.
Regaining my composure I entered a zen like state. I flowed the course. Leaning into berms, gapping tiny holes to smooth out the trail, sucking up bumps, pedalling, letting the bike dance beneath me. I felt great. I loved the adrenaline rish of the speed I was attaining. The course just felt right. I knew the corners and relied on my instincts.
Until (always that stupid until) there was a fork in the trail. Take the high or take the low. I hesitated because I heard some spectator say high. That was enough to fuck me over. At that speed hesitation is bad. I wanted to go high, but my balance was set for the low line. In an instant my front tire dipped off the trail, and down I went again!
I got going again, but I neared the really steep sections. I was amazed during my prerun how much they had changed since the day before. Well, the steeps were even nastier again, and I made the cardinal mistake when mountain biking of looking at the obstacle you want to avoid. Sure enough I hit it, and went down again. I was super pissed off, and didn’t take my time. I almost fell again while trying to get going.
The last incident I had was a section of trail that I knew to look out for since the outside of the corner was getting baddly eroded during practice. Again I stared at it, and hit it. Thankfully I stopped before I fell off the trail, but it still cost me time.
From there I cruised to the finish line, completely disguted with my run. I was pretty pissed off with myself, and just wanted to go home. After remembering, I stopped my watch, and it said 8:55 (this was about a minute after crossing the line).
I figure my race run was close to 8 minutes long. If each crash cost me 30 seconds (some were more some were less), I could maybe have done a 6.5 minute race, or even 7 minutes. I might be way off on my timing though.
Any which way I look at it, it was not my best race, I could have done better, and I will try to do it again next year.