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Eastern States Cup - Thunder Mountain

Team Bikeman - Race Reports

I arrived about noon on Saturday and the place was buzzing! Highest turn out I had seen with over 400 racers! (That’s a total for Enduro and DH. I think the 240 plus entrants in the Enduro event were the most they had to date ) Parking lot was full, and it looked like half the racers were camping. There was some impressive RV hardware and camping ranged from killer rolling luxury yachts, cool converted sprinter vans, fancy platform tents atop off-road SUVs, several tent clusters, to mattress pads in the back of hatchbacks. I was so excited that I paid extra and signed up for the DH event in addition to the planned Enduro. (Ambitious, since it was my first race of the season and I had only brought my long travel 29r Enduro bike.)

Beautiful day.  I started with running practice on the 4 Enduro stage tracks – Stage 1 was pretty fast with several steep rocky/rooty sections that would easily qualify it as a Pro DH track (except for the pedally sections).  Stage 2 was a bear – with tons of pedaling that kept even Pro times in the over 10 minutes (14 min was not slow for amateur) – Stage 3 was the most fun! Some scary steep roller-drops and off-camber steeps at the top faded into fast flowing park berms jumps and steps (both up and down). The final stage, 4 was nuts! – tons of pedaling techie rough XC and super challenging off camber rock drops. After one run on every stage except 4 and an additional run on 1 and 3, I hit stage 4 and was crushed with exhaustion by the end. I decided to quit for the day – even though I had not even seen the DH course.  Since DH is after the Enduro, I was thinking that I may bag the DH event on Sunday if I felt this wiped after the race tomorrow. It would be a game day decision to run the DH

Sunday came and I arrived at the lot at 7:30am to learn that folks racing both events were expected to start earlier and be at the top at 8:00am. My class (Men 50+ Open) usually starts last (after 10:30am) - so this was a surprise – I rushed and headed to the top,  barely awake, and with only a few minutes of pedaling around the top to warm up. I plunged down Stage 1 and into the steep chutes that lay ahead..

After a few rough encounters and near ugly crashes – I decided that, with so much riding still to be done, to pull it back a little and focus on surviving the rest of the day- that long pedal transfer back to the top for Stage 2 got me warm and calmed my nerves. Stage two was long so I saved my energy at the top and enjoyed pushing the final 4 min of windy pedaling. There was a lift transfer after stage 2 (a welcome rest) at the top.  I noticed that they were still allowing practice on the DH course so I hit it” (I was going to ride it on my Enduro bike anyway) and got to check it off my list.  It was the same course as the prior year and much easier than I remembered (easier than Stage 1, and would probably have been a favorite Stage had it been included in the Enduro – second only to stage 3). I completed all the stages and showed up late for my DH Run (50+ goes first in DH) Luckily, the starter squeezed me in after the last amateur woman and a 4 minute break. With no one in front and no- one behind,  I was able to complete a relatively low stress run with one misstep sending me off course after a long steep corner – costing me time, but nothing else...

Here’s a link to the PinkBike recap

Overall – super fun! I plan on practicing more and stepping it up a level at the next race – so expect to see me elevated on the podium!

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