Monday, May 31, 2010

Hood River Super D: Oregon Super D #1

The Oregon Super D series started off this weekend with the third annual Hood River Super D, in Post Canyon. This course was rumored to be one of the most technically challenging super D courses in the Northwest. The course dropped over 3000 vertical feet in 7 miles, with 400 feet of climbing.

Jim and I arrived in Hood River around 1pm on Saturday afternoon and headed straight to the bike shop to get our race packets and ask around to see what the conditions were like. Upon pulling in to the bike shop it was impossible not to notice all of the bikes on tops of cars and trucks were covered in mud and clay! They looked like they just got done riding the moto trails in Capitol Forest after only a couple days of dry weather in May. I was particularly worried because I'm running Schwalbe Racing Ralphs front and rear on my new super D bike, and although they're the best tire I have ever ran for moist and dry conditions, they are not good in thick clay type mud. Jim was stoked on his Fat Albert tire choice. So, after talking to some people in the bike shop it sounded like the trails might dry out by race day, so my nerves were eased a little.

At the top of the course you realize that there is a lot of vertical in Post Canyon, and the upper trails look really similar to a lot of our moto trails. The course drops in to some really fast and rocky moto style trails before popping out onto a road for about 50 yards and dropping into something you are more likely to see in an expert level downhill race track. Super steep chutes with deep ruts, tight trees, and wet roots and rocks everywhere. Much worse and about 3 times longer than the upper rocky section at Dog River. That section ended with a log drop onto road that shot you into the most fun part of the course. It was like a mile or more of slalom style trails with perfectly flowing corners with the best traction you will ever find. At this point in the trail you feel like you are in really good shape and hardly working at all. Then you hit the first climb and you realize super d races are hard. I was basically anaerobic for the next mile or so of trail. It's kind of a rolling climb with small sections of descending between the small climbs. When the climb ended you drop back into a flowy section that ends in another expert level technical chute with rock and root drops everywhere, and ends with a ladder bridge drop back onto the fun flowy stuff. Three quarters of the way down the course you pop out onto a double track, stairstep road climb that takes all the rest of your energy reserves. The course ends with about 2 miles of some of the best single track you will ever ride. Super flowy and fast with perfect radius turns, one right after another.

The course dried out throughout the day on Saturday, and by Sunday morning it was in perfect racing condition. I was the first GL6er out off the top and I had a very clean run with only a couple small mistakes. After reaching the bottom and getting my instant time and result (they have a very cool timing system) I realized I should have been less conservative because I was behind third place by 2 seconds. Trey, David, Matthieu, Glenn and Jim were all scheduled to take their runs about an hour after mine. Trey had a good clean run with no crashes, David was conservative on the descents and motored up the climbs like a bat out of hell, keeping Matthieu off his back tire. Matthieu had a bad spill on the first gnarly rock chute, but had a clean run after that. Glenn crashed hard in the rocky chute as well and bashed up his ankle pretty bad, but still finished strong. Jim took a heavy digger right off the top in the fast rocky section and smashed his shoulder bad enough to just head back up to the truck and call it good. Rachel said she was just happy to make it down in one piece and have a good time doing it.

Overall this was one of the best Super D courses I have ever ridden. The race promoters really have their stuff together and it shows with the good timing, and the good course layout. The next race is in Oakridge and it is 16 miles long! I can't wait!


Matt- 4th Cat 1 19-39

Trey- 5th Cat 1 40+
Glenn- 10th Cat 1 40+

David- 17th Cat 2 19-39
Matthieu- 22nd Cat 2 19-39
Jim- DNF

Rachel 4th Cat 2 35+

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