Saturday, May 2, 2009

Race Report: Ontario's First Ever Super-D

I was awarded a gold medal today, but I didn't win it. I got it just for showing up to Ontario's first ever Super-D race put on by Sir Bikealot Racing in conjunction with the first Ontario Cup DH race to be held tomorrow.

I watched the pre-registration list throughout the week but there was no sign of other females stoked to try a Super D. So I told myself they must be planning on pre-riding the course, then deciding and registering at the event. Since Super D is a new discipline in Ontario, I thought it made sense that people would like a taste before they dropped 39 bucks on their entry fee. But as it turned out, I knew I'd won the race before I even started. You'd think that'd be a good feeling, but really it just kind of took the wind out of my sails. To keep it interesting, I decided I'd push to see how far into the men's category I could get instead.

Before I tell you about my day in gravity sports, let me lay out some basic information.

What is Super D?
Super D is somewhere between downhill and cross country mountain biking. Although the course points down, you still need to pedal. There are a few uphills, but mostly your momentum carries you. Throw in a some flowy single track, the odd technical section (nothing scary, girls!!) and it's all over in just a few minutes. It's basically everything that's fun about XC (unless you think long technical climbs are fun in which case you're out of luck.)

What kind of bike do you need?
I rode my Trek today which is the same bike I ride for XC races. People also rode 4X bikes and burlier trail bikes (6-inch travel) but certainly you'd be fine with 4 inches of travel and a hardtail. For the record, both the women's and men's fields were won by XC racers ... so I'd say it's kind of our thing.

What do you wear?
I made a point of wearing lycra today because I was in DH-land and they can't stand it. I thought I'd better represent. Full face helmets are necessary on the DH course, but not on the Super D -- I just wore what I wear to XC races. Some people wear ski-style helmets with goggles though. I wasn't too sure about the steeze on that one ... I guess it's cool?

What can I expect?
This morning, rolling into the parking lot, I thought "This'll be easy! Rock n roll!" Turns out you shouldn't expect easy. I was pretty much redlined for the entire 4 minutes and 39 seconds I raced. It's downhill, but it's a sprint too. Plus, unless you're willing to wait in line for an hour to get up the slowest lift in the world, you've got to ride up the ski hill at least two times to the start. In Super D, you must do two practice runs and the commissaire has to see you do it, and mark it on your number plate. Otherwise you can't start the race. I'm not sure how it is in other places (I think some Super Ds run heats?) but at the Ontario Cup, we were started one at a time at 30 second intervals.

That pretty much sums it up. Next time, I really hope more girls and more XC racers go out to show those gravity dudes what's up. It was such a fun course, and it teaches you a ton about carrying speed and cornering. I'm glad I did it, even if it was lonely in the ladies' category.

My day started fairly early as I wanted to practice on the course before the racing started at 1pm. The weather was pretty fair, but once in a while it did rain a bit. It seemed to get colder as the day went on as well so I ended up racing in knee and arm warmers again. I made friends in the morning with the only other person in lycra. We rode the chair-lift together, one back from our bikes dangling precariously by their back wheels and decided we'd just skip the chair for the rest of the day. *shudders*. I chased him down the course a couple times. He races Elite as well in XC so we were both on a little field trip to the gravity side of things. He won his race too. We must have had a lucky chair that morning.

I prerode the course, and also whipped around on the single track gloriousness at Kelso. I ended up doing alot more riding today than I anticipated, and that's a good thing! I didn't really know anyone so I hung out in the minivan eating my lunch and reading a book until it was time to climb the hill to the start.

My race run was fantastic. I did everything the way I wanted to, hit my lines, got some great, positive comments from the spectators, nose-wheelied the finish (although that was an accident ... tee hee) and even gave a young girl a pep talk at her dad's request. I think she'll be ripping it up next Super D. And so should you!!

Once that was all over with, I went back to the car and put on my DH disguise. I grabbed the bike I'm borrowing ... thanks Chris! ... and hiked it up the mountain. The switch from being clipped in to flat pedals was scary. The rocks were scary. The jumps were scary. The drops were scary. Respek to downhillers who make that rough stuff look butter smooth.

Tomorrow is race day again, so I'm off to bed, hopefully to dream about how to string together a good DH race run.

My loaner bike -- Trek Remedy. Suuuch a nice ride.

ABP and X-0 Equipped!!

Obligatory down tube shot ... and custom sticker job

Spy cam captures his royal cuteness. Only 11 weeks old!

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