Friday, May 9, 2008

How Stella Got Her Groove Back

Or more appropriately, How Stephanie Got Her DH Skills Back!

The last year has been like a vacation away from downhill. There have been some sporadic races here and there and a few outings, but nothing like the 2005 season, when we were shuttling all the time.

After we replaced our bikes last September, I spent a lot of time on the Yeti...trail riding and training for VQ. A
lot of time. Meanwhile, my lovely Socom sat there, scorning me for only riding it in the occasional manner, a casual user.

VQ is over. I am still racing XC. Putting in a lot of XC miles. Shuttling just about never.

But, by August 1, 2008 it has to be g0-time. Whistler, baby. Whistler. Jumps, drops, high speed, techy sections galore. I decided that it was high time I get back on my DH horse and get comfy with her again.

So, Tuesday after work, I went out with the gang and rode 12 XC miles around LPQ on the Socom. Why??!! Just to prove that I could. But actually, we had to get re-acquainted. Sure, at the beginning, we were awkward as two 12 year olds about to play spin the bottle. The Socom's 37 lbs were more than I was used to handling since I've been spending most of my time on the Niner lately. Within a couple hours, we were getting there. (I was so exhausted, too)!

Thursday, Joy ( invited me out to shuttle and play around on the drops and jumps of our local riding area (Fight Club rules apply). I was pretty nervous because I haven't been jumping the Socom at ALL...I don't think I've ever really jumped it since I got it! It is 7 lbs lighter than the M3, and it feels so different in the air.

I met her out there, got suited up, and instantly felt so good to wear my flak jacket and full face.

But, I was nervous.

There is a small double by the parking area that I used to hit. It got flattened recently, or so it looks. The dirt was all duffy and soft. I went at it the first time and balked. Second time, I hit it and cased the landing, but it was so soft it didn't matter. My heart was thumping out of my chest though.

She looked at me and said, "Why don't we push up further and hit a few other jumps that aren't doubles?"

So, we did. Watched the local groms hitting some big jumps without any fear. F#@kers.

Hit a small jump to flat and it went well. Then we went up higher and found a nice single jump to boot off of. Joy hit it and made it look easy (she has been practicing a lot). Me? Rusty as a pile of nails in a junkyard.

I stared at it. She read my mind. "Are you freaking out right now," she implored. "Yes," I answered meekly.

I rolled up to it. Okay, I can do this. I pushed back up and hit it. Whew!!! It felt so good to get it over with! The second time, I hit it with a bit more speed and went further. By about 3 jumps later, I was clearing 10 the end of the night it was more like 12.

We sessioned a double that you had to approach from around a corner. I pussed out.

Went down and met up with Rick and Erica. We shuttled up to the top and on the way, saw Dan driving in.

Up at the top is a concrete pad with a max. drop of about 2.5-3 feet. I hit the smaller side two or three times then just went for it. The biggest drop I've done in a long time! It was awesome to hit it and not have the front end dive. I was stoked, and Dan noticed my perma-grin.

Sessioned one of the dh trails and hit some of the jumps/drops on it. There was one that Joy and I both passed on. Not much of a run-out.

We ended up trying out one of the step-ups and then went back to have a jump contest for distance among the 6 or so riders who were out there. Dan won! He also cleared the section of doubles that the groms had been hitting. He did an awesome job!! Way to go baby!!

This weekend will be more gravity-inspired: a shuttle ride in the San Gabes and then at another to-remain-nameless spot on Sunday with Nancy and Roger. I come!

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