The Mountain Bike Life

When writing blog posts and race reports, I often struggle with how to start off the post. Well, this time it wasn’t so hard. This race was the hardest two days of bike racing that I have ever done, both mentally and physically. Here’s how it all went down.

The view from the top never gets old. I sat here in the shade waiting for my downhill start to roll around |Photo: Ryan Simonovich

The view from the top never gets old. I sat here in the shade waiting for my downhill start to roll around |Photo: Ryan Simonovich

Day one at the Downieville Classic was the cross country race. With nearly 30 miles, 4,000 feet of climbing, and relentless descents, the race would be won by a true all around rider. I knew coming into this race that the biggest challenge would be the first 8 mile climb. Also called the Trail of Tears, this double track/fire road climb brings on pure suffering. I am the kind of rider that can start quickly off the start line, but needs an easy section in order to recover. This is a problem at Downieville since there are no breaks on this climb. I was cursing ever part of that race by the time I reached the top, but things started to get better for a little bit.

Moral increased at the top when I received a feed of cold water. Splashing it on my face and cooling my body off made me feel instantly better. I charged to the first singletrack of the day. Next was a few miles of a hilly fire road. I also found some nice power and made good time on this section.

However, at the top of the first major descent my luck changed for the worst. Somehow I bent a chin link on my Sram 1×11 system. I was baffled and filled with disappointment. One thing was certain, I definitely did not want to DNF. So I was left to coast/hike the second half of the race. This mishap put me second to last.

Caption: The six inches of travel on my Enduro 29 sure came in handy on the rough downhills | Photo: Ryan Simonovich

Caption: The six inches of travel on my Enduro 29 sure came in handy on the rough downhills | Photo: Ryan Simonovich

Day two was the downhill race, and I was hoping to get a bit of redemption. The race was almost an hour, but it was so demanding that it is all a blur now. The trails were super beat up from the day before, which made some section extremely rough. This, paired with a fatigued body only made matter worse. However, I do fell like I gave it all I had in my current state. I ended up finishing 6th out of a field of 10 super fast riders. I am proud of this and know where I can make up time.

Coming around one of the first corners on the downhill course |Photo: Myles Lucas Rider: Ryan Simonovich

Coming around one of the first corners on the downhill course |Photo: Myles Lucas Rider: Ryan Simonovich

I ended up finishing 7th overall. Not exactly where I want to be, but it could have been worse. I definitely believe that I could have made the podium if every thing went my way, but sometimes we need times like these to remember that anything can happen. Now that I know how demanding this race is, I will only come back stronger and smarter. Even though I swore that I would never come back to this race while walking with a bent chain, something tells me that I will DEFINITELY come back and race next year because Downieville is awesome!

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