Thursday, July 21, 2011
National Championships at Sun Valley
Tara Walhart Super-D National Champion
2nd - Tara Walhart Cat 1 35-36
6th - Ellen White open 50-54
14th - Art White open 55-59
1st - Tara Walhart 30-39
6th - Art White 50+
7th - Dar Phillips 40+
Photo op with the mayor of Sun Valley.
On Sunday July 17 (also my birthday!) myself, Arty and Dar all contested the Super D in Sun Valley, ID at the MTB National Championships.
I have to confess, when I first signed up for Nat's I had NO interest in the Super D. Then big E told me if I registered for the Super D I would get a lift ticket, which ment I would only have to ride up the climb on the amature XC once and then could take the gondola up to session any parts of the XC course I felt I needed too, so, once I knew that it was a no brainer, I signed right up!!
I have never raced a Super D event before. So I asked Arty if I could follow his lines on some practice runs and he let me tag along. This ended up leading to a GREAT SUCCESS!
The Super D course started with about a mile long climb and several 100 feet of elevation gain, but it was a wide open fire road so you just had to grind up it. Once at the top the course immediatley dropped you into single track and going down. This piece of single track called the traverse trail had the most amazing views, you'd come around the bend and be smacked in the face with mountain and almost crash because you stopped paying attention to where the trail was~ killer for sure!
Next was a short section of fire ride to a momentum hill then to a long fast road downhill with lose gravel to boot. I think durning the Super D event, an amature rider was clocked with a speed gun going 43 mph on this section. SSSIIIICCCKKK!
Next into some tight ST (repeat from the XC course) fun flowing and momentum section all the way. Once more into the FR, right tight turn in deep gravel then back into ST where we stayed for the rest of the course (again repeat of XC course) down the rock water fall and finally to the finish.
My descending skills are something I have really been working on. West coast riders are hellafast on the downhills- I mean FAST! They can rail the FR and carve up the tight switch back, skills we don't get a chance to practice here on the East Coast. So, its not enough to be able to go up hill real well- you gotta come down in killer fast style too!
So, my plan for the race to was murder the opening climb and try to hold on my own on the rest of the course. I started 3rd. We went off TT style in 30 sec intervals, so once I was released, I charged after my 30 sec girl, catching her quickly and had my sights on my 1 minute girl which I could see up the climb and could also see I was gaining on her. My plan worked, I caught my one minute girl on the climb before hitting the ST and now just had to get down the mountain.
Well remember how I said West coast riders are hellfast going downhill, well this racer from Whole Athlete did not disappoint. She was on my tail in the ST in no time. I was able to stay in front of her until the long FR at which point she passed me, but I was able to sit on her wheel and follow her lines. So this became my new plan for the rest of the rest, along with not crashing and getting down the mountain in one piece.
As it turned out the Whole Athlete rider and myself swapped leads several times, mostly because she would over cook something and I would rider around her! LoL!
As we approached the end of the course and the rock waterfall, I had this feeling the Whole Athelte riders was not going to ride the obstacle (if you watch the video big E made you can see all this happening LIVE!), well, as she rolled into the perferred line for the rock waterfall she fell over and the same time there was an expert man rider walking down on the other side and that just left the middle for me, if I look like a deer in the head light going down that section its because that is NOT the line I wanted, not the line I practiced on all week (and lots of people did toss it on this section) but I had to make it work and I got down! YAY!
In the end, I had 1:20ish on the Whole Athlete rider good enough for the gold and the National Title! I felt like I was a real underdog going into this event, but what doing this race showed me is that racing is racing. Being able to follow a wheel, having confidence in your ability, and fighting hard are solid foundational elements no matter the discipline!
A HUGE thank you to Arty for taking run after run after run with me. Alan and Lam for making me feel sick to stomach every time I try to follow them downhill and Yim for giving me 'attack position' on the bike and in life!
Winning the Super D and the stars and stripes Jersey with my friends and team mates present was incredible! The whole weekend was just crazy amazing and you better believe I want to go back next year to defend and win the XC!