Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Downieville Classic

Ah Downieville... what can I say.

The race has become the All Mountain World Championships and consists of a two day stage race. Saturday is the Cross-country where racers endure the 7 mile 3200ft climb and then race down the mountain with 5200 descent. Then Sunday is just the downhill.

I had a great time here last year so I was excited to go back this year and see if the race would deliver again, only this time I would be racing both days and Pro.

It did.

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HERE is the photo gallery from MTBR.
 I entered early this year based on last year's finish but this time I would be moving up to Pro. This made me a little nervous because I know that this race generally draws a good group of Pro women. This year I was able to get to Downieville and ride earlier in the summer as opposed to just 2 days before the race like last year. I love riding around here.

Race weekend still snuck up on me! I was coming off recovery time following Xterra in Beaver Creek and I was really excited to have some fun riding my bike on some fun trails. Well, not my bike...again, this year I was riding a borrowed bike since I currently only have a hardtail. My friend let me use her Liv Lust Advanced. Such a great bike!! I rode the Lust with Maxxis Ardent front and WTB Beeline rear.

Again, we rolled up to town early on race morning and somehow, again, I was feeling a little short on time. By the time I picked up my packet, got geared up, and weighed in my bike I didn't have much time for a proper warm-up. I was also have a small problem with the fact that my Camelbak, that I had smartly filled and frozen with Osmo the night before, was still a solid block!! So I put this on the pavement in the sun and went to spin for a few minutes. I tried to get some teammates to sit on it but apparently no one was too keen on that idea. I was able to get it thawed enough to start breaking it up and I figured it would be alright.

Anyway, before I knew it we were standing on the back of the Pro start and off we went! This wave starts soo fast up the first section of paved road. Knowing that I didn't have too much warmup and also that we would be climbing for awhile I was content to hold myself to my pace and hang off the back. I could see Teal Stetson Lee just up ahead and was just fine to keep her right there.  I knew as we climbed I could get stronger. Sure enough a little over 1/2 way up I was able to real her in and make the pass. Now I just wanted to get some time on her before the descent! I was feeling pretty good. It was a HOT day and you could tell people were struggling, I think temps were around 90 on that climb (so happy to have my frozen drink). On the flat road near the top of the climb I caught Jamie Busch and kept pressing on. When I came over the top I was told I was 4th woman (apparently 1 of the girls was incognito!). I was really happy to hear this as I thought I was a bit further out than that! Now for the fun.

There are not many courses where you get to race downhill longer than you got to race up! I love this, it favors the all-around rider that can do both well. There is still a fair amount of pedaling on this long descent and there are actually still a couple climbs, so the work is by no means over once you go over the top! I really enjoyed the race down, I had a pretty clear course for most of the way. This was great! Last year I was in the lines of Expert men. As I came through the lower portions of the course I got more reports that I was about 4th women. I tried to keep pushing all the way through just in case there was someone close, but no...

I got to the end and found out that I was 5th! Going into the race I had told a friend that my goal was top 5 here, so I was happy with that even though the reports said 4th. Then, I found out that in Downieville the podium only goes to 4! A little bummed, but still happy with the day. I was still sitting in 4th in the All Mountain :)

Ashlyn and I finished the afternoon taking care of Nora, (friends dog, so he and Drew could go ride) and relaxing in the river watching the river jump.

We camped up near Packer Saddle on Saturday night, which is the start for the Downhill race on Sunday. In the morning we had plenty of time just hanging out. It was a little weird! This was my first time racing just downhill with a TT-type of start and my start wasn't until almost noon! It was nice to hang out in camp with the family, but I also have a hard time just waiting when I am going to be racing. Anyway, it finally came time to head up and get ready. This being my first time I wasn't totally sure how to go about getting ready. So, I just did some version of the usual.  I was the second to last of the Pro women to go so once we started it was still a lot of wait. I really just wanted to do well enough to stay in 4th at least, but some of these girls seemed to be really fast experienced downhillers!

I finally got going and pedaled hard right away, (maybe too hard) I was a little amped and screwed up some line that I have never even thought about right off the top. Anyway, just tried to get going. A bit later I messed up another part that I rode fine on preride then followed that with a few more bobbles and "falls" laying down the bike. Nothing bad, but stopping in a downhill is not clean or fast! I passed the girl who had been in 3rd the day before (mechanical) and I soon got passed by the last girl who started behind me. I was not feeling too good about that. Finally, I took a deep breath and calmed myself down, "just ride smooth and have fun" I thought. After that it was pretty good on the bottom section which follows the same course as the XC. I passed another girl with a flat and then as I came down to the last section of singletrack on First Divide I came across another girl walking her bike with a flat. It was Larissa, who was 2nd the day before.  She asked if I had a pump. I didn't, but I stopped and gave her an extra CO2 so that she could make it to the finish. I have been told that this is not good race tactics :) but hey, I was feeling like I had such a bad run, and I feel like it is better to go with good people tactics anyway. 
Made it to the finish in 1 hour.  Yes, it is a long downhill. It was good enough for 5th, again! I was very surprised about this with how I felt about my run. It was messy!

I spent the rest of the afternoon waiting to find out if that CO2 cost me the spot on the podium or not. The AM championship is scored on a point system! So you get points based on your finish and ties are weighted toward the Downhill. All said and done, base on time I would have been second behind a ripping Kelli Emmett who destroyed us all! Based on points I was 4th! I think it was a successful weekend. I had a blast and learned a lot.

Women's AM Pro podium (L-R) Me, Teal Stetson Lee, Kelli Emmett, and Jamie Busch
 Downieville delivered yet again a great weekend! This is definitely a favorite and one to keep in the schedule!

Here is a great photo recap of the weekend from Pinkbike. A little lacking on the female coverage but the photos are great and a lot of my teammates are in there!

Also, a fun little recap by the Angry Singlespeeder.


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