This past weekend was the 2015 Durea downhill race in Reading, PA. This race is always highly anticipated and typically a favorite amongst East Coast locals. Where else can you race through the woods, gap over city streets, and this year we once again rode down the steps to the pagoda. The Pagoda is a building at the top Mt. Penn and has been there for more than 100 years. Visitors come from around the world to see this amazing building and unforgettable view. Even though the downhill course is always run on the same side of the mountain, the course usually changes somewhat from year to year. Last year I raced a 29’er with 140mm of travel, and this year I raced a 650b with 160mm of travel. People seemed up in debate as to what bike would work best, but I would have preferred a downhill bike, especially since the course was filled with countless loose rocks the size of baseballs, and some very fast aggressive sections. A little more travel would of helped smooth things out, and assist in keeping a solid flow.
I decided to ride from the bottom of the mountain where the finish line, to the top to help me warm up. It took probably about ten minutes, and is for the most part a pretty mild climb. Once I reached the top I went through my warm up procedure including some dynamic stretching, sprints, and fast pedaling. I headed up to the starting platform once I knew I was close to going. As the person in front of me dropped in for his run I stepped into the starting platform. My goggles were down, nerves were steadying, and my focus was settling in. The clock counted down, and I watched it intensely, 13, 12, 11, 10, then a voice on the radio said “hold the rider, we have an issue”. Ugh, I can’t believe I was 9 seconds from starting my run and then this. Ok, I thought, give them a minute, stay focused, and you’ll be on the track in no time. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I waited there ready to go for about 5 minutes, and then needed to get off my bike and calm my nerves. Much to my dismay what I thought would be a short wait, turned into a lot of racers standing around for over 45 minutes because of a timing wire issue.
Everyone was extremely relieved that we could now get our runs in. I now realized that my entire warm up was a waste, I was no longer ready for action, just ready to be at the bottom. As I entered the first corner and almost hit a tree, I knew I was no longer in “the zone”. I simply began to focus on loosening up, as I knew that was the only thing that could help me. I got through with a clean run and it put me in 2nd place in the Cat1 30-39 men. Even though I had practiced a better run, I was happy with my finishing place. Every race is a chance to learn something, and I walked away with a little more knowledge.