The “return of the ripper” was this year’s North Shore bike fest, with three events over three days, a prologue, a marathon XC and a Super D race. With the demise of the Ned’s downhill race, and my fitness at a higher level than it has been for a while, I decided to enter my first true Super D, and see how it went!
The shore is notoriously gnarly, with skinnies, drops to flat, more awkward corners than you can shake a stick at, and a lot of sections where it feels like a trials bike would be the weapon of choice! Pre riding the course it was hard to believe we were going to be hitting this stuff at race speed.
Race runs arrived and I felt pretty confident. I usually do well with technical riding, and there was a lot of downhill in the course. I started strong, pedalling hard but at 70%, riding fast, but it didn’t take long for the knurled roots of the shore to reach out their slimy fingers and grab my front wheel. One over the bars crash turned into two, and heart pounding, crashes 3 and 4 came shortly after. At this point I stopped riding so frantically as I knew I was out of contention, and my panicking had tired me out pretty good. I kept it smooth for the rest of the downhill, but by the time the climbs came around I had nothing left. Suddenly every ounce of the bigger bike with flat pedals and slack head angle was pulling me back, saying “no, we want to keep going down hill!”
I finished the race completely exhausted. Not happy with my run, but with a huge amount of respect for the guys at the top. In hindsight, this was never a race I was going to win. Super D races, even with a lot of downhill in them, are unfortunately still won and lost for the most part on the climbs. There are a lot of guys who can hold their own on the downhill, and a few seconds lost there for them can be easily gained on the climbs. I guess I will have to just keep working on my fitness for next time!