The first Super D at Bear Creek for the year.

This weekend we set out for Bear Creek resort in Macungie, PA, site of the 2013-2014 USAC Nationals, for my second Super D of the season.Almost at the top of Bear Creek Resort. Susan was coming off of a chemo week but was feeling good enough to make the trip so it was great to have her out with me and meet some of the “people from Facebook” I talk about all of the time. We knew there would be some familiar faces that we would get to catch up with so it wasn’t all about the racing.

Crossing the Walt Whitman into Pennsylvania.

Crossing the Walt Whitman into Pennsylvania.

It would be nice not to have to travel 2hrs to any event but that’s what we get for living by the ocean. I’m not complaining, most of the year it is pretty nice where we live. For me to race in Super D and Enduro on the east coast I have to drive far but it’s worth it, I love this segment of mountain biking!

We arrived with plenty of time before my race run so we set up by the finish area and happened to park next to one of my team mates, Jason Beckly, from Community Bikes and Boards. I never met him in person so I didn’t know that we parked right next to him, this worked out well. We were also parked next to Joe Burkell and Ed McDaniel, both were very gracious in offering shade for Susan throughout the day. I always say that the mountain bike community is filled with good people!
While setting up I noticed that the finish had the race chip readers, this was great news! Timing is a big issue in a race like this, there have been times in the past where things didn’t turn out as some thought because of timing errors.

The plan

My plan heading into the day was to get in at least two pre-rides before the race. For some reason my first time down is always a tough one where I grip the bars a little too tight. For my second run I got to ride down with my buddy Ed McDaniel, P.J. Daily and some guys that Ed knew. I wanted to scope out some ninja lines in a couple of sections so we stopped along the way. This ride down was more relaxed and loose.
I felt good after this run so I decided to save my energy and just relax. This was a good time to catch up with Jason and others, have a snack and soak it all in. After sitting a while in the sun and heat I started to get concerned about getting my energy zapped. I had warmed up then cooled then started to warm up again but then decided to wait since pro’s would go first then CAT 1,2 then 3. There were a lot of riders in each category so it would take some time. I registered CAT 2 since that is my USAC designation right now but should have jumped up to Pro/Elite…that would have worked out well with my routine. So I waited…by the time I took the shuttle up I wasn’t feeling 100%. These things happen sometimes and you have to learn to deal with it, try to prepare as best as you can so that the entire trip is worth the time.

Race time

I got to the start area with my group and tried to warm up so I would be ready. As I climb up to the start box I slammed my right thigh into one of my pedals, what a great way to start! Settle in then, 5…4…3…2…GO! I got out of the starting gate well, feet clipped in quickly and into the woods I went. I have to say that my new Crank Brothers Mallet DH pedals sure make it easy, the bigger platform is easy to find in a situation like this.

Just came across the mountain and heading into the woods again.

Just came across the mountain and heading into the woods again.

The first section is a very rocky descent so you have to pick a good line so you don’t get slowed down. I did alright and headed onto the first climb up the access road. Heart was pumping from the rocks so I tried to calm down and breath. I knew the fast open road was just over the hill so I tried to prepare to really open it up there. Across the mountain and into the woods I went, I had some good momentum through the tight single track and it gave me a chance to try and relax. Up next was a section of tight hairpin turns, I managed to get through these without any issues. The rest of the course is a test of your fitness…you have to be pedaling all out to really get a good result.

At this point your heart is pumping out of your chest!

The course has a couple of long old mining trails that had me wondering if I was even close to what I had done the year before. You have to keep pushing. As you duck down into the last rocky descents of the course you are trying to maintain speed for that last left turn toward the finish. Legs were burning but you dig deep and keep pumping, I managed to navigate some loose turns through here like a champ which just propelled me faster. Cross the line and done.

The results

Having had timing snafu’s in the past on this course I was happy with the 8:23 time for my race run…given the conditions. That is 7sec slower than my time last year. I wound up 8th out of 20 for all CAT 2 riders, they lumped all ages together this time. I know had I prepared a little better on race day, my pedaling sections would have been stronger. My goal for the day was to break the 8min mark, next time.

The trip did turn out to be a good time in the end. Getting to see everyone and having Susan out with me was icing on the cake. A big thanks to Gary Kline from Bear Creek for holding events like these, they get better every year. Bear Creek is such a nice place for racing, nice views, great challenging terrain then you have this posh resort to use after you’re done.
I want to thank my mechanic (me) for keeping my bike in order, Transition Bikes, Kenda tires, Royal Racing and Monica at Ryders Eyewear for the nice goggles!

The take-away

I was reminded after the trip to take more photos, make sure you have everything you need, set up a tent for shade and be ready for your race run. It was a nice day overall, got to catch up with friends old and new, spread the love of this segment of our sport and most importantly, I didn’t crash!

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