After 6 long months of rehab, I’m finally back racing Downhill. For those of you that don’t know, I suffered a torn shoulder labrum sometime last year during a practice run. I had to go under surgery and repair my back in October (Click here for the video of the surgery, warning, not for those who have a weak stomach).
As we drove to Fontana, we were welcomed with very strong winds, “great, another thing to worry about” I thought to myself. As we were signing up, we were told that we could not practice unless we sign up for the race. I guess I had no choice but to race if I wanted to practice.
I took a little longer to get ready so my team mates left me behind, luckily the shuttle line was short and I was going up the hill in no time. I waited for all the racers to go down the hill since I like to take it easy on my “recognizance” lap. As I left the platform, I rode carefully with the injury to my shoulder still in my mind. I was also riding the Sette Vexx for the first time, I was getting used to its smaller geometry, my KHS DH200 rides more like a medium instead of a small.
I reached a section of the trail that just plain spooked me, it was a small drop off to a left hand turn… not the best combination for a fall that could re-injure my shoulder. I watched a few riders go down and saw the lines that they took, I walked up and tried to go down but my concern was just too big so I ended up walking down the turn. On my second downhill practice, my team mates caught up to me and as I was being shuttled David asked me if I was OK. I my mind, I was second guessing myself, I was not so sure I wanted to keep on racing downhill.
I stopped practicing after my second run, I was not happy with the front tire installed on the Sette Vexx, luckily, Kenda was selling tires for 20 bucks and I picked up a 2.6 Telonix, a tire that I’m very familiar and very comfortable with.
Sunday’s practice runs were good, I finally conquered that left hander and I had two clean runs.
I was feeling pretty good about my last two runs, in fact, I was starting to have fun. When it was time for me to do my race run, I was pretty focused and kept doing my practice runs in my mind.
As I reached the finish line, I was happy that I had a clean run and that I pedaled my ass off on the wall, it was definitely a fun run. I was glad that I finally got to race the Sette Vexx, the bike felt light and very responsive in the turns, the only issue that I had was that the spring on the rear shock needed to accommodate the extra pounds that I accumulated during my time on the disabled list.
As usual, I would like thank all my team mates, especially RL for the encouragement, also big thanks to Sette for the bad ass frame and the usual sponsors: KHS Bicycles, Serfas, Ergon, Spenco, Evomo, Icetoolz and Hoss MTB.