We’re about halfway through this year’s winter series at Southridge in Fontana, CA with three of five races completed. Rather than doing the single-speed XC race this year, I decided to give the Super D a shot. Super D racing resides somewhere between down-hill racing and cross country. There should be enough pedaling and climbing to keep the long travel heavy DH bikes out of contention, but also is technical enough not to yield any advantage to hard-tail XC bikes. Super D is where the 5-6″ trail-bikes find their home. The definition and course content tends to change among different locals, but at Southridge it is downhill light.
Southridge runs (at least they have been this year) their races in a two run format for Super D, a short run and a long run. The times from both runs are then combined for a total time, and your placement is based upon that combined time. Obviously, the shortest time wins. The short course is about a 2-5 minute run depending on your speed and skill. This long course had been about a 5-10 run, but for this most recent race they cut the large climb out and it was much closer to the short run times.
For those who are familiar with the location in Fontana, the Super D starts at the top of the hill that had been used in the old national XC course. Both short & long courses start and end at the same place. The first 15 yards are so are shared by both courses, and then they split each going in opposing directions down each side of the hill. After dropping down the back side of the hill, the long course wraps back around to meet up with the short course and then they share the end and finish line.
Having never raced Super D before, I started the series in Cat III to get an assessment of where I should be. For the first race, I didn’t make it down clean on the short course. I washed out in a sandy off-camber section, but was able to quickly get back on the bike and finish out the run. The second run came out a little smoother. This yielded me a second place finish. After that first race, it seems liked a good time to move up a class to Sport, plus for the next race I was going to be joined by fellow teammate Corey Pond.
The course for the second race was 85-90% the same as the previous race with just some small changes. One of those small changes, I forgot about during my run on the short course. On the outside of one of the turns was a small drop off a rock and the inside of the turn was a smooth roller. The drop wasn’t that big, but it is beyond my skill. I came in too hot and hit the outside of the turn. I had to plant a foot and kick the back end around to make it to the line I wanted. Definitely not smooth, but better than a full on crash. The second run come out cleaner, and I ended up with a 4th place finish behind Corey who took 2nd. I was able to shave about 30 seconds off my time from the previous race as well.
I did not fare so well in the latest race installment however. I was feeling good race day, and was able to get in three good practice runs. There had been a significant change to the long course in that there was no longer a major climb on the back side of the hill. This cut a good 40% of that run making much closer in length to the short course. I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me that day because I would not be able to make up any time on the climb. On the first run I cam around a turn to hot and washed out in the loose soil. While not completely off the bike, it definitely cost me time and momentum. I felt good on the switch backs on the top of the second run, but coming out of one of the rock gardens my steering was feeling sluggish. I kept pedaling for a bit till I realized my front tire was incredibly low and losing air even faster. I had pinch flatted through one of the rock gardens. Well, that ended up with a DNF for me for the third race. We’ve got two more to go, and two more chances to improve and try to podium.