Connie Finds Fun in the Super D
July 9, 2008 · Print This Article
By Connie Misket
So to give you some background, I’ve been considering myself something of a Super D specialist lately. My strengths are in cornering and going fast through flowy technical trails, and probably as a result of injury and age, my common sense has kicked in a bit and I’m hesitant to push myself on bigger drops and really gnarly stuff. As a result, I’ve been working harder and harder at developing better riding skills (and mental racing skills) so I can ride better, but stay safer at the same time. (Heh – we were shuttling in my car the other day and one of my friends laughed that I’m the only person they know who would keep Brian Lopes “Mountain Biking Skills” and Dr. Loehr’s “Mental Toughness Training for Sports” in my car…)
I used to push myself to “just go for it” and jump off of things or try to ride lines I wasn’t confident on, thinking it was more about conquering fear… and well, maybe it’s just the wuss in me talking, but I’m feeling like it’s turned out to be more about skill after all (and occasionally learning to just say “no”), seeing as how I rarely pick up new skills when I’m sitting on the sofa recuperating.
So occasionally that means I back out of a DH race that’s on a course I just don’t feel comfortable on. Good or bad, this year I’ve stayed safe (well minus several dozen scrapes and bruises), gotten faster, and been steadily improving with my race results. Luckily, I’ve never seen a Super D course that scared me (well… there are some climbs that scare me, but that’s a whole different story!) – hence, I’ve been starting to think that’s my strongest event.
The NCS Course (the Pro/Expert DH course that they use for National races) has always been a challenge for me. In some ways, I like it. I’ve cleaned Barney Rubble (the rock garden). And I even cleaned the nasty new section above Barney Rubble when we went out to practice before the race… of course I couldn’t get Barney Rubble after it and put the two together. Ugh. I love Psycho Spin… even when it’s scary and blown out – it’s technical steep corners are exhilarating and fun. And at least there’s a go-around for the Waterfall and Bedrock drop, which I have no intention of doing – they’re just too risky and high consequence for my tastes. And I’ve landed the finish line drop in the past… but the last time was super sketchy. It’s one of those things where I’ve managed to ride it in bits and pieces with varying success rates on each obstacle. But thinking about trying to actually race it about makes me sick. Watching friends get hurt on this course every year – ranging from season ending to career ending injuries doesn’t help either. And so I decided to put all my focus on the Super D this year instead.
The Deer Valley Super D courses are always fun. Fast, flowy singletrack, moderately technical rocky sections, fun roots and berms… no matter what course they choose, I’ve loved all of them. This year was no exception. The top was the same as last year, but where it turned onto Deer Crest, this year it cut back across the mountain with a steep and nasty but thankfully short climb, and then merged onto a bit of the sport/beginner DH course, and then over to Tour de Homes for some fun bermed turns. Then it cut back to a fast fire road descent jumping back onto some singletrack at speed and then a flat (slightly uphill) sprint across the ski run towards the finish – which consisted of two tricky, off camber turns to the finish line.
I was feeling pretty confident on the course, but the competition was stiff. And then they added in a crazy cyclocross style start. You had to run 100 feet or so up a hill with your bike, and then jump on the bike after crossing a second line. Um… that doesn’t sound too hard, but I’d never actually jumped on my bike while running before. And my bad knees (5 surgeries) don’t even like running in the first place, let alone running and trying to jump on a moving bike… I tried a few practice attempts in the start area, but my start was still nothing short of comical. I think I might as well have just stopped and gotten on my bike instead of tripping and stutter stepping as I was getting on my bike and then missing the pedals before finally getting going. Oh well… I pedaled as hard as I could down the fire road and across the first flat. I came into the first two loose corners a little hot and slid around one and lost too much speed, but stayed on the bike.
Down through the rocks and across the fun flowy part under Barney Rubble, and I remembered to raise my seatpost (that Joplin sure comes in handy) and started to shift into an easier gear well before the climb. The part right before it was too rough to do anything but hang on… I tried to stay off the brakes and keep as much momentum as possible up the climb, but the loose gravel and steep grade had me at a slow chug before I knew it. And my bike, so nice on the rough descent gets a lot of bob when I get into that type of pedaling. UGH. But I crested the top of the climb, and pedaled it out heading down the fire road again. Dropped my seatpost and changed into a big gear and charged into the Devo singletrack. Yay.
I bobbled a bit on a rock but pumped through the rolling terrain and kept on going. Once I was in the turns I somehow got off track on a very loose gravel section and was just going too fast to adjust and ran right off the trail into the bushes. Noooo…. The bushes slowed me to a stop. I was only about 2 feet off trail, but lost all my momentum. Got back on and hit the bottom berms as fast as I could. Just barely managed to stay upright on the last flat fire road corner and bombed down to the flat pedal at the end and pushed it as hard as I could to the finish.
I had started 2nd and had no idea how my time would hold up. I ended up in 3rd place, behind Joanna Petterson and Amy Laird (who finished 1st and 4th in the DH, respectively, and are such incredible riders it’s an honor to be on the podium with them at all) and was really happy with that result. I also headed to my local bike shop and picked up an air shock for my trail bike to try and help out with the bobbing issues when I’m climbing. And apparently I really need to work on the cyclocross style starts too. You never know what they’re going to throw in there for Super D starting line antics!
Photos by Christopher See. Used with permission, all rights reserved. Clicky for more Photos from the Deer Valley National. Mille Grazie!
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