AKA – Gnarliest Course of the Year
Day 1 – Practice
Big White had a brand new race course, so I wasn’t sure what to expect at all. We drove in from Vernon early Saturday morning and got the Silver Star tent all set up in the pits and then it was off to check out the course. The course started out with a steep little rock roll – it wasn’t overly difficult but I wasn’t too impressed with the fact that it had no ride around. I didn’t need it but I appreciate the races that let newer riders step up and try a challenge. Build something that has a time penalty, but allows people to come in and try their hand at the course. Anyway, getting off topic.
I rode the course a couple times with my fellow Silver Star team mate, Pete, and we talked about some different lines and options. It is really nice to have people to talk about the race with, it just makes the experience that much better.
The dirt was as fine and powdery as moon dust. I feel that if the weather had cooperated and the ground was tacky enough to be able to hold lines the course would have been a lot more fun to ride. As it was it was so slippery that holding lines was difficult and combined with the relentless rock garden, getting down to the bottom was exhausting.
Also, I crashed at least once every in every single practice run. For those keeping count (probably only me!) – that’s more times that I’ve gone down in my entire season. One particularly bad crash was on a gap to rock slab. The rock slab had a very sharp edge. I managed to hit it successfully a few times, but the course changed quite a bit during the day because of all the dirt movement. I took a squirrely line in and cased the gap, smashing my rear wheel into it and bending my rim. 🙁
As I lay on the ground gasping like a fish, the course marshal kindly removed my bike from on top of my person and asked me if I needed to stop the race. Shuffling off to the side I replied that I just needed a second. “Man, mountain bikers are f***ing tough”, he said.
Yes, yes they are.
Day 2 – Race Day
Had a great time camping despite all the dust, but woke up feeling tired. Maybe a little bit of overkill in nine practice runs the day before. I took my time getting ready in the morning since I now have a rule that I won’t do more than two practice runs on race day. I was really blessed to have my little brother, almost sister, and my mom show up to this race so our team tent had a great vibe going on.
I crashed in both my practice runs but managed to hold it together for the race (no crashes!). Despite being a fit person, this race really encouraged me to look into a professional training plan. This race was the closest I’ve ever come to matching pro times (barring crashes) and I felt that if I had more stamina I may have been able to place within the elite range. I simply ran out of energy halfway down the course and my mind was empty of everything except my mantra – “Just breathe”. I was barely able to hold lines, never mind be a playful rider. Still, I was happy with my run and have another amazing Dunbar medal!