USAC Super D pre-ride with Elinor Wesner
I received a message from pro DH racer & Femme Fatale Racing‘s, Elinor Wesner after my first Super D pre-ride post asking if I was available anytime to show her the Super D course at Bear Creek. Bear Creek resort is the site of the 2013-14 USAC Nationals so it is high on a lot of “east coasters” lists of races to do this year! So I took a day off to match her availability, 2.5hr drive for me and 3hr drive for Elinor…not too bad. All a part of what it takes to race on the east coast I guess. Normally the drive to Bear Creek is 2hrs for me but I hit some heavy traffic while driving through Philly.
This was the first time I had met Elinor but thanks to the internet and our friend Brice over at www.FatTireFests.com, I was able to read up on Elinor. We are “friends” on facebook but until you meet someone in person you never know.
Let me say this…Elinor has a big personality and didn’t hold back when it came to the smack talk…and I was the recipient of most of the cracks of course. It was like we were old riding buddies meeting up for another ride.
Heading into the day we were assuming that we would be riding a new & more challenging (terrain) course laid out by Harlan Price, unfortunately that course idea got squashed by the race director due to the previous preview race on June 2nd and other USAC issues. Harlan was allowed to alter the current course so that it didn’t include so much pedaling which was nice.
Since Harlan was going to be there running a class for his Take AIM training services, we knew we’d be able to meet up with them at some point. Along the way we ran in to Chris Talotta, Callie Horwath and Art & Ellen White. Chris is a PA native and pro rider as is Callie who rides for Giant Mid-Atlantic. Art & Ellen I know from my trail work with JORBA.
The plan was to get three or four laps in but it would be tough since we got a late start AND it was pretty humid. We would ride the course backwards (half of it) then ride down so it gave us a chance to view the course the opposite way.
Eli’s first run would be on her 26″ bike but after that she was excited to get her new Trek Remedy 29’r out for the rest of the day. What a sweet looking bike, I have to say I was a bit jealous.
Who doesn’t love a new bike?
In an earlier preview of this course I recommended a 29r for this particular course and it seems that it is the right choice. I don’t own a 29r yet but would love to have one some day.
So Eli’s first run on the new bike was interesting, I heard some noises behind me and thought Eli crashed. Nope, she was just experiencing some issues with new brakes that weren’t yet “broken in”. Being a down-hiller by nature she managed to handle the bike quite well, the bigger wheels can make handling the bike a little weird after coming off a 26″ wheeled bike. I figured she of all people could deal with that issue without incident.
We made our way down the mountain and right away at the bottom she was like a kid in a candy store. So excited about it and ready to get back to the top! So back we went. We stopped for photos and to scope out some rocky sections trading notes along the trail.
While on our last climb we met up with Harlan and the others then decided to take the last run down together. Once at the top we would take the first section easy and talk through the tricky sections. Back to the top and take off for our final run. I rode behind Harlan to see where he would go and so that I could try to keep up. I was feeling good for the conditions and was smiling after we hit the second descent which is a section of rocky single track with tight turns.
I was right with him until this super tight hairpin turn, I didn’t whip the bike as I wanted but on I went. The next tricky turn Harlan pulled to the side to follow me and down we went. You encounter a moist rock garden at this point and I usually stick with the same line through here, this time I flipped a huge rock with my back wheel and wound up bending my rear disc. I didn’t know that at the time, I thought I flatted my tire but I kept rolling…sort of. After several pedal strokes up a small incline you pop off of this small bridge then a little down hill and onto the long gradual climb on an old mining path. Harlan noticed that I was slowing and passed me…and says “you flipped a HUGE rock!”. I tried to stay with him but it wasn’t happening, I thought I was just tired. It was not until I got back to my car that I noticed my back wheel was no longer able to spin freely. THAT explains it!
I was happy with the day and the runs we got in. Running into and riding with Callie, Chris, Harlan, Art & Ellen was a nice change of pace, I usually ride by myself during the week. Having the opportunity to ride with Elinor was cool, getting her insight on certain parts of the course was helpful. It’s always nice to see how great the people are in the mountain biking community and Elinor certainly represents the community well.
You can keep up with Elinor on her Facebook page as she organizes women’s specific rides/classes at Mountain Creek Bike Park, competes in the USAC Nationals Super D and other adventures throughout the season.