Never Too Much Otter!

April 24, 2008 · Print This Article

By Kimber Gabryszak
Park City, Utah

So I’ve spent the last few weeks alternating between excitement for the Sea Otter downhill and apprehension…as many of you know, I had a rough season last year. Beating myself up about earlier poor finishes, then took out my shoulder in a crash at Angel Fire. Later in the summer, I eased back onto the bike, but was scared, wimpy, riding my brakes, too tentative.

Now, after a lot of PT and a winter of recovery, would I still be scared?

First day on the practice course, I took a slow run to get a feel for it. Second run, let it ride a little faster, and it felt awesome. Third run, let it go all out…..and almost rattled myself off a section of brake bumps since I was on my medium bike. OOPS!

For the 4th run, I borrowed Connie’s bigger downhill bike, and let it rip! It was so beautiful! Flowly and smooth, I felt in the zone and in the groove, relaxed and absorbing the course. Yay! I could have ridden all day, but by then practice was over. My face got a workout from smiling too.

No practice on Saturday, which was a good thing, since Connie and I had decided to race in the beginner/sport singlespeed XC race Friday, and I don’t know about her but my legs were HATING me! We hung out at the tent, visited with the other Bellas, made new friends, walked around Sea Otter, and had a grand time. THANKS to everyone for the friendliness and hospitality, especially Sabine!

Sunday morning, practice. My (Connie’s) bike was all decked out in glittery pipe cleaners and rhinestones and ribbons, and we were just loving the course. In fact, I had to force myself to stop practicing to keep from being too tired for the uphill pedally sections. Yes, uphill on a downhill course, but I couldn’t complain since it’s one of the most fun courses I’ve been on otherwise!

Finally, time for the race. I’m sitting in the gate, feeling stunned that it’s already Sea Otter, it’s already the bike season, it’s already time to race, it’s going to be all over in 3 minutes, then…

Beep, beep, beep, BEEP! I pedal into the first corner, and Success #1: no braking through the corner, yay! Into the doubles section, and while I don’t clear them, I have Success #2: smoothly suck up the bumps and get the right crossover into the bermy switchbacks. Success #3: no braking through the switchbacks! Success #4: no hesitation on the teensy-weensy rock I’ve been hesitating on!

Then I hit Failure #1: the first pedally climb. My legs are SO TIRED! I try to stand in the pedals but just crawl up the hill. 2-3 seconds lost there, so sad! Failure #2: I hesitate at the top of the steep rutted sand section, but once I’m in it I let it go fast. Still lost some time. Failure #3: same as #1, almost no pedalling up the second hill. Sigh, more time lost.

Then, Success #4: no brakes through the bottom of the course, with the exception of into a sharper corner or two, but nowhere near the amount I usually do, so I’m overcoming my fear, yay!

My finish was a 3:02, which put me into 29th place, and which was 9 seconds off the girls I’d like to finish with. Since my only real issue was lack of pedalling, and I did well on the rest of the course, overall I’m pretty stoked! She’s back!

AND, overall the successes outweigh the failures, and the failures are just lessons to learn from. I know, I know, the SS XC probably wasn’t the smartest idea for leg soreness, but it’s Sea Otter and supposed to be a good time, and the XC race was one of the most fun and crazy things I’ve ever done!

And that’s all she wrote!

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