Today was the first of two Super D races at Winter Park. The second one is part of Crankworx in early August, and today's race already has me totally pumped for it.
But (take a deep breath, Marty) one thing at a time.
For starters, leave it to Winter Park to design the climb-iest Super D around. The start goes up the resort access road for just over a quarter of a mile, which, I know, I know! isn't that long, but it takes an agonizing eternity when you're going balls out. And then, just to uppercut you when you're already hanging on the ropes, the course hits you with another substantial (for Super D) climb about halfway through. Naturally I fixate on the pedally bits, since that's not my strong suit right now, but of course there was plenty of downhill goodness to be had.
At any rate, I lined up with a surprising number of other women. Apparently the word has gotten out that Super D is pretty fun, because it was a huge improvement from last year, where FIVE women, total, showed up -- of all the categories. Now there were probably 15 women in my overall category. Sweet.
So I lay the Marathon on the ground and walked away. No, not bowing out...lining up for the goofy Le Mans start. Standing on a ski hill, staring uphill at your bike, which is lying on the ground like a dead horse, is one of the stranger sensations of bike racing. But anyway, the gun went off (finally, huh?) and I started to sprint. It's funny -- sprinting is my only natural ability, but it's pretty worthless when you can't capitalize on it. So I make a great start, passing people on the run and leaping on my bike with aplomb, only to have girls cruising by me like it never happened. Sigh.
But I refused to back down, cranking as hard as I could to limit my losses. But in spite of bleeding out my eyes, I still found myself at the back of a five-woman train, all held up by one slow chick ahead. With no place to pass for some time. We were tailgating each other for all we were worth, buzzing each other's tires and grabbing the brakes hard when the slow girl got scared by anything. Finally, the two women behind her got around, but there wasn't time for number three and I to shoot the gap. Arrrgh.
After more tailgating and internal steaming, #3 and I dash past. Liberation! But as luck would have it, we reached a fire-road section and another girl behind me made a pass before I could react. And lo and behold, the second climb arrived (cue soundtrack slowing into distorted, drawn-out guttural noise) and the damn slow chick made her way by me. Nooooo!
I gamely pushed as hard as I could make my hollowed-out legs go, and was definitely on the verge of hyperventilation. I was glad I was riding alone just then, because I was literally gasping and squeaking when I breathed. But that's what you gotta do to make Super D success happen, and I knew that.
Descending again, I charged down the remaining portion of that singletrack, desperately aware that there was only one more passing spot before the finishing section. I hit the fireroad below and forced myself to downshift, even though I already felt like I was at my limit. I cranked past two women right there -- how, I have no idea. And as I dropped into the final section, I hauled through the rubble to re-pass Slow Chick. Hooray!! I can't believe I made A Significant Move in the last few minutes of a race. Kick ass.
I hurtled down the final switchbacks and water bars, almost at the edge of control, trying to make up time. It wasn't pretty. But it felt good, and I was super stoked.
Turned out, in spite of my terrible climbing, that I pulled out a fifth place, less than a minute off the podium. Awesome.
After learning that Rob hauled down a bunch of people after a similarly crappy start to place 2nd, my day was complete.
We wrapped up the afternoon by taking a run down the Crankworx course, and it should prove to be a lot more fun. Probably more hotly contested by real gravity types, but blessed by less climbing. Giggity! What could possibly go wrong?