USAC Nationals Super D
The day had arrived, the USAC National championships Super D at Bear Creek Resort was here so an early start was upon us. 5am arrives a bit too early for my liking but Susan despises more than I. It’s all apart of living where we do and racing Super D and Enduro on the east coast…a love hate relationship if you will. Long drives are the norm so we deal with it.
The drive to Bear Creek is usually just under 2 hours if we don’t hit traffic passing through Philly, which was the case today.We arrived with enough time to check-in with registration then for me to catch the lift for one run down the course. The goal was to get two runs in before my race run but the slow lifts didn’t help me with that goal. I did ride the lift up a second time but during that ride up the pros had already started racing so I just took a different route down the mountain.
It’s go time!
I was in a stacked field of amateur men (40-49 age group) with all CAT levels grouped together including some top XC guys. This course favored the XC racer who has some tech skills…a very “pedaly” course.
Out of the gate I tried to work harder through the first rock garden descent and through the tight single track sections. Out of these sections you have the first climb which is on a gravel road. I pushed a little harder knowing what I was up against. Across the mountain and back into the woods, Harlan Price was there yelling my name which was a nice boost.
I experienced several sections along the course where people were yelling my name. This was awesome for sure but I found it odd that they were yelling “Go Gerry Creighton”. They decided to use my full name..?
So far I’m hitting all of my marks and not getting on the brakes too much. As I hit the tight switchback section I get to the last & tightest switchback which always gives me trouble and I manage to get through without losing time.
After this you get to rip through a muddy and very rocky section. The last time I rode here a big rock bent my rear disc brake. A short uphill and onto the small bridge (video below) which I always try to hit as smooth as possible, some guys have enough speed here to launch over the entire thing. Wasn’t going to happen for me today. I was pushing a little harder than usual and after getting past this obstacle, I felt it.
(Thanks to George Sokorai for cheering and the video!)
Up to this point you’ve been descending through some technical sections and the heart is racing. Now you have a pretty steady incline on an old mining path that requires a lot of pedaling. I think it was at the end of this section where I realized I was running out of gas. Normally this would be OK as the finish line at “D lot” is coming up but this was nationals and I knew I had another climb before the finish. I tried to block out the negative and work on giving 100% no matter what. This is where I remind myself that Susan is waiting at the finish line. She has been through far tougher situations than what I’m dealing with at this very moment so suck it up and push harder.
Suck it up and push harder!
Another rocky section of trail then I would exit the woods to head into the new section.
Pushing up this relatively short section of switchback climbs sucked the life out of my legs and it left me rolling slow on the ensuing flat section, I tried to recover a bit before making the final push to the finish.
Down the final descent I coasted then gave it all I had as I was guided towards the finish line. I crossed the line and was spent, I gave it all I had and can’t look back to find any place where I didn’t.
The resultsI gave 100% effort but couldn’t break 9min mark, final time was 9:42 which put me in 16th place. You can see the full results here. Fitness was key in this race and I was moving pretty good through 3/4 of the race then I ran out of gas. The climbs don’t look too daunting on my race run on Strava but combined with the tech sections they get you at the right time! Time to get to work on climbing and long rides to prepare for the rest of the season.
The take away
It was great to have Susan along with me for this trip! She’s been through a rough patch recently with regards to her cancer treatment so thanks to her I have that nice finish line photo!
A positive coming out of my race run was, according to strava, I supposedly posted a couple of “pr’s” for the usual Super D courses that they run at Bear Creek but I know one is incorrect. The Nationals course used a former Super D course but added almost another .5mi to have the finish in front of the resort at the official USAC finish line. Super D is generally tailored for the All Mountain rider who is fit and has technical skills. This course leaned heavily in favor of the XC racer where pedaling and fitness were key.
Another nice perk of competing was the FREE bike wash provided by Wicked Wash! This meant I didn’t need to wipe my bike down before storing it in the car for the ride home.
From my point of view, this event seemed to run really well and everything was laid out great. A big congratulations to Gary Kline and his crew for putting on a big event like this!
As of now I’m not certain that I’ll compete next year, it all depends on the course. If the course changes to one that Harlan Price had laid out this Spring (was to be used but then got nixed) then it will be more in-line with what we expect a Super D course to be. If that is the case then I along with others are sure to participate.
Susan and I just HAD to stop and grab a photo with Sasquatch on our way out! At least we think it’s Sasquatch.