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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Getting Back in the Racing Saddle

Sue Hayward is fast. So is Lea Davison. I found out by eating their dust, on multiple occasions, during the pro Super D at the Mount Snow NORBA national last weekend.

The Super D is a mountain bike race that most closely resembles the typical weekend warrior race that arises naturally among riding buddies. It’s not too long, usually not more than half an hour. The super D, like your local beer can race, is mostly a downhill run. It’s got some technical stuff to see who has the huevos (an anatomically correct term if you race in my class), but some flats to see who has the lungs, and a few climbs to see who has the legs. The Super D is like what would happen when you throw a bunch on friends together with mountain bikes on the top of their local hill.

marla streb
Marla on the Super-D Podium

To make it more fun, the race organizers assembled the field for a Le Mans Start. That means when the starting gun pops you have to sprint en masse to the bikes, find your own, and hopping on it cyclocross style, pedal like crazy so that you hit the single track first. To make it even more deliriously fun on the morning of the race the organizers told us we would be using the ‘Modified’ Le Mans Start…we would still start off by running with our bikes…about 100 yards…uphill!

And since I am more of a downhiller I truly had to ‘run what I brung’… not a light weight cross country set up. But my full suspension, big forked, heavier by at least five pounds, Orbea Rallon.

marla streb
Marla stops for a recovery drink...

In this kind of race if you get into the woods behind somebody who doesn’t know how to ride, or behind somebody who doesn’t know when to pull over politely, your “race” has effectively ended. You might as well start looking around for red bellied, fantailed warblers. I was not beset by either of those two problems.

My problem was that I got into the woods behind Sue Hayward! Sue is a two-time NORBA national series short track champ and winner of numerous NORBA national cross country races. She also won the Super D the week before in North Carolina. She knows how to ride and therefore the occasion to pull over never arose.

There were a few rooty, rocky, off camber downhill turns where passing was dangerous, ill advised, and unwarranted; so that’s where I would slip past the Trek girls. But, there always seemed to be a climb immediately after and they would just float right past me giddily chattering about their dinner plans, “Pasta at the Silo or a burrito at Gringos?”

We three swapped the lead back and forth, but rolling down to the finish Sue was in front by a bike length and there wasn’t a gap jump, or a triple double, or a rock garden of baby heads to help me out. I couldn’t even hang on to second place because I my eyes were popping and my lungs searing so much I was unable to manage the correct gearing over the last little riser and Lea clicked right past me like I was on my single speed.

I guess that’s to be expected. I’ve heard it’s hard to return to work after maternity leave.


Mike said...

i still haven't gotten into shape after the birth of my two daughters...
and there are two key differences:
a. my youngest is 10
b. it was actually my wife that gave birth

11:27 AM  
walkert said...

Great super D story. I always consider entering in the super D, but after the xc race, usually the day before, I want to ride around the local scene. In other words, I want to ride something different. But, for novelty sake I guess I should try it out. Good writing!

Walker T

6:47 AM  
tmx said...

You rock more fiercely every day it seems. Yet another great tale that continues to inspire so many of us in more ways than just the saddle.

3:09 PM  
Chico Cyclist said...

This is great!!! Way to go out there! I just got done reading your book - that was an amazing story. You are a true inspiration!

9:57 AM  

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