I went from racing uphill on my road bike last weekend, to racing downhill on my 29er this past weekend. Sunday was the annual Durea downhill mountain bike race in Reading PA. Back in the day when I was racing downhill a lot this was one of my favorite courses. It has a mix of high speed rock gardens, jumps, berms, and a massive 30 foot road gap. My plan isn’t to get back into downhill racing but I did want to go and see how well a 29er could do on such a rough and aggressive course. Most bikes at the event were downhill bikes (8 inches of travel) with a handful of riders on trail bikes. (4-6 inches of travel) There was practice on Saturday and I used this as my measuring stick to see how my race on Sunday would go. The bike I used for this event is a Trek Remedy 9 29er with 140mm of travel and a Shimano drivetrain. Saturday’s conditions were absolutely perfect, with tacky soil, and lots of sunshine. After a few runs I knew I had chosen the correct bike to be racing. The course demanded you had complete body fitness as you needed to be able to hold on to the bike through nasty rock gardens and pedal hard when the course gave you the opportunity. Remember it’s a race so every second, every moment, every pedal stroke counts. Sunday brought a big change to weather and course conditions. The sun was gone, the rain had visited, and the temperature dropped majorly. After my first run I wanted to make only one change to my bike, and that would be for a wider tire. Unfortunately I didn’t have them, so I would have to make do with what I had. My first run left me uneasy about the last section of the course so I rode back up to try it again. As I entered this section I heard the hiss of a flat tire. I must have cut it on a piece of glass as the puncture was a perfect slice. Luckily I’ve known most of the people at these races for over ten years and knew that someone would be able to help. The first person that came to my mind was Joe Mulally. That name might not sound familiar but his sons name might. His son is Neko Mulally who races for Trek World Racing and just finished 3rd at the last world cup. I knew Neko also had a 29er with him and thank goodness for me his dad had a tire I could use. So after a quick swap I was back to the top to put in my race run.
My run went well, and I had a blast doing it. My result was fast enough to win my class and be 4th fastest of the day. I had done what I came to do, and with the help of good friends I was able to do it.