Wow. I just got back from an 11 day trip racing at Whiteface in Lake Placid, New York and Snowshoe in West Virginia. Geritt had been in the Northeast racing for about a month and was going to these two races anyway so he picked me up from the airport in Albany, NY on a Thursday. As some of you may remember Meghann and I tried this race last year and while flying into NYC my luggage was lost and I had to borrow a bike at the last minute from Ken in NJ. So when my bike and clothes showed up this time I was pretty stoked and looking forward to racing Whiteface on my own equipment. Geritt and I met up with Downhill Mike who runs Whiteface’s bike program. He has some incredible property in Lake Placid and was kind enough to lets us crash there free of charge. We had a pretty loose agenda and accommodations planned for the trip. But since the weather was cool and dry we just slept sans a tent in Mike’s backyard.
Whiteface is a HUGE mountain and the terrain is pretty unique. Or at least I think so. We pre-rode the course on Friday and started feeling pretty comfortable by the end of the day. The course is really long and has some super high speed sections as well as some pretty technical woods. However Whiteface was in a drought just like us in the South and the course was deteriorating quickly.
After each day of practice we took shower/baths at the local swimming hole on the Ausable River and chilled by the campfire.
Riding with Geritt I notice a lot of my short-comings as a rider, so I started to play around with bike geometry to get myself in a more aggressive position, which seems to work for Geritt. I raised the front end of my bike and tried running a 2.7 front tire. I also added quite a bit of LSC in my fork to keep the fork up in its travel. I started to get comfortable and felt much faster and in control on such a steep course. I received 2 compliments which mean a lot coming from Jamie Ford, who is a total pinner. He said that Geritt and I looked the fastest and most comfortable up top in the fast stuff and he was very impressed with how we could corner our bikes so quickly. He even asked how I did it. To me that is a tremendous compliment. Jamie won last year’s Whiteface 5k, but was out this year with a separated shoulder.
In the end Geritt got second and I got dead last with a mechanical. I had a great time and look forward to riding/racing Whiteface again. Mike is a great host and I highly, HIGHLY suggest the Lake Placid area for a riding vacation. Geritt and I stayed to ride one more day at Whiteface on Monday and departed Tuesday for Danbury, Connecticut. I had never been to Connecticut, so it was a nice stop along the way to Snowshoe. We stopped at John Ellerson’s house and did some laundry. John is a member of the Northeast Sovereign DH team. Their team has been riding Morewoods for years and have a good relationship with Geritt.
While at Whiteface, we met Damian Breach. He is the east coast contributor of Decline magazine . He was in Whiteface shooting for a couple of articles on Whiteface’s bike park and the race. But he was off to Snowshoe next and asked if we would goof off at Snowshoe for some shooting for an article on Snowshoe’s bike park. We met him at Snowshoe Wednesday night and hit the Basin side of Snowshoe Thursday morning. None of us were supper amped to hit the wooden features of Snowshoe’s Basin side, but it was cool to conquer some fears and get some great shots. Later in the afternoon, we headed over the Western Territory side of Snowshoe which has the more natural DH terrain. While Damian was setting up his lights Geritt crashed and twisted his ankle really badly. He decided to head home to seek medical treatment. It worked out well since Meghann was going to surprise me by coming to Snowshoe on Friday evening. Geritt got to get home and I got to spend the weekend with Meghann.
I got to hang out with Damian quite a bit and he is much like the only other`Australian I’ve met – confident and really cool. Damian is a pinner on the bike and we think much a like. Gaudy 80’s moto gear and body armor on with no shirt has no place in DH. And for the lover of all that is good, please wear a visor. BTW, Damian can pin it on the luggage cart as well.
The track at Snowshoe was really fast and the best I have ever ridden. I thought it might suit my style of straight and rough. I felt pinned in practice and was looking forward to a good finish since 3 of the top riders were out for Worlds competition and injuries. The weather was perfect and even Ricky made an appearance.
In a turn of double bad luck my chain came out of the guide just like it had done during my Whiteface race run (it ultimately broke my dérailleur). It happened right out of the gate and had my pedaling all messed up. I barely got enough speed to clear both 35+ ft road gaps and I told myself that I was going to give’r all I could until my drivetrain locked up and threw me over the bars. I tried to pedal but it would lock up and dig a pedal into the ground. Once it bucked both feet off the pedals and once it caused me to hit a tree. I tried as hard as I could under the circumstances and ended up 11th out of 31 on a long pedaly course. I was only a couple of seconds out of the top 5 and I know it would have been my best result to date. But mechanicals are part of it. But for once I felt uber confident about my practice and I knew I was once of the fastest on the track. Oh well. Next time.
Check out this pic over the first road gap at the start. My chain is already out and as you can tell I came up a little short.
One last parting shot. 35+ ft road gap, transition? Who needs a stinking transition?