Thursday, July 24, 2008

Goodbye Downhill Demons

(I wrote a few days after the 24 Hour race and never posted it)

I have decided to retire the story of broken bones on Hillside. Ya know that feeling you get when you hear yourself telling a story for the 100th time? Like man, I've got other interesting stories but this one keeps coming back. Well no more!

For the past three years I have been struggling to go fast on a mountain bike. Especially downhill. I could not get spontaneous high speed crashing out of my mind even when there were no obstacles. Lately I have been working on easing up on the brakes little by little. Every time I go out, I give myself a little bit more freedom to go fast.

In my second lap of the 24 hour race this weekend, I could feel my confidence building. I had ridden the course once and knew that once I topped out off of the cut-off from the Llama trail, that it was downhill the whole way. I looked at my clock and it was 12 minutes to the hour. Could I get back to the start in 12 minutes. I found out I could come pretty close.

So I started out in control at the top of Spencer's Loop, but gradually released the brakes more and more. Around the turns I used a new trick Carlos (of AEA and Frigid Bits) taught me to balance, so that I didn't have to slow down much. Coming out of the turns I accelerated. I was off of my seat and to the back, squeezing the seat between my thighs, keeping my pedals level and my arms loose and absorbing the bumps. It felt like I was floating down the trail. I kept my speed up through Rover's and Moose Meadow alternating between hovering over the seat and sitting briefly to pedal. Finally I came down the long stretch of smooth gradual downhill that took me back to the finish. You can really get going fast here. By this time my fingers had completely released from the brakes. I think I even let out a little "Woohoo!" on this final stretch. I never had so much fun on a bike in my life. (And I think I said that at the finish line)

And so with the retirement of the latest broken leg story, I say goodbye to my downhill demons. Will I ever ride down Spencer's Loop and Rover's Run that fast again? I don't know. But for one lap of the 24 hour race I had sweet downhill success. And I learned something.

Having the fear and conquering it is better than never having the fear at all.


Bonnie said...

I have really been enjoying your blog - thank you for writing. Biking in Alaska is beginning to look very tantalizing!

Tim said...

Great photo! Be Like Mike!

Diana said...

Congratulations on getting rid of the Downhill Demons. I'm currently dealing with them myself after having major shoulder Sx two years ago. Used to love that run from Spencer down to Rovers and then Moose Meadow with a little air at the end. Now, I hear my dr's voice telling me I can keep riding, just don't crash going fast. WHAT?! Enjoy your newly returned freedom.