August 6, 2014
Whew!! Another sick weekend! Stoke is through the roof, days later still. This one started off with everyone around us talking about nerves and rain and wet rock gardens. Pleased to say that after 3 seasons racing DH, I am completely unfazed (mentally) by wet conditions. They are what they are. Used to scare the living hell out of me. Now, it’s “…just another day, living in the hood, just another day around the way…” Good luck placing that lyric. Google away.
We get to Launch around 11am on Saturday. Figured the rain would be stopped by then but it never rained that day. Rained the night before and things were really wet right up until around 2pm. Set up our pop-up camper right next to the Shack’s new pop-up and had an awesome time in our home away from home camp. It was really dope. Zoe and Dre played together more they ever had before. We were lucky to get this big loamy patch right in the middle of the stone parking lot where we set camp. The kids dug and dug all weekend long. And the Shacks have a pretty sick camper. Wish we grabbed a pic of the whole set up.
By the time our camp was set up, Bobby Matt and Phil showed up. We got set up and Phil offered colored zippy ties to match everyone’s whip. We all started riding together right away. We were all slipping and sliding in that garden up until around 2pm. Once it dried, it was clean run after clean run. Felt really great. Then night time. Rain. Wake up and the rock garden is wet and wild once agin. Lots of people getting broke off.
At Mountain Creek, I promised Bobby I would break my 6+ months plus of no drinking for a podium. Every since, he’s been itching to see me win. So much so that I got the sneaky suspicion he might sandbag one. Good to know he doesn’t have that in him. Too much of a competitor. All weekend long this guy was in hell with shoulder and nerve pain. Wearing an ice pack at night and trying to drink it off. We’re talking level 7-8 pain. Noticeable hurt. Still riding, still hammering practice. It was hard to watch but Bobby doesn’t know the word Quit.
When Phil and Matt decided to end practice on Sunday, Bobby and I went up and hit a few more runs. Neither of us could get through that rock garden without dabbing a foot or coming to a complete stop. So on my last run down, I practiced running out of that bitch with bike in tow as fast as I could. Sucks to admit that, but I needed a back up plan. We end practice with a “whatever happens, happens” attitude.
Race time. Every single person in Cat 2 30-39 either wrecks bad or dabs a foot in their race run. I’m out the gate first. No nerves. Hit the top three drops, pedal hard into the step-down and come hauling in the rock garden. About one third of the way in, I get off my line and dab a foot. I waste not a single second. I’m off my bike like jack rabbit slim hopping as fast as I can through the rocks manhandling my bike to follow. Now…I’m super embarrased to be admitting this. I have NEVER jumped off my bike and ran in a race run. NEVER. But, I knew this was only way I could get through this thing really fast. As I’m running, I’m thinking to myself, “Damn, I’m hauling. This feels faster than riding even when I was cleaning this thing.” Now when I say I was running, I mean FAST. I was leaning on the bike and actually using the brakes to slow down and using the front wheel as a balancing point. I can hear the crowd as clear as day. “BE CAREFUL” someone yells. “SLOW DOWN” another yells. “You’re going faster than the last guy who made it all the way through!” I heard the last person say. Hilarious.
The benefit to doing this was that the end of the rock garden had a big ladder ramp. It was easy to get back up speed if you could set up quick on the ramp and take off, which I did. Came through the last table and finished with a 2:16:70. Missed second place by .20 secs.
Remember that promise I made to Bobby? I kept it. And I broke the one to myself not to drink for as long as I could. Honestly, riding, racing and doing well is far more important to me than some silly drinking hold out. To be honest, not having a beer is a miserable experience. So we cracked a Fat Tire and cheered the podium wins : ))))))
So I’m at the bottom waiting for Bobby, who was going off second. I see him come out of the woods. Time is looking damn good. But’s he cases the step up coming out of the woods and can barely pedal. He’s looking so drained! But his time coming into that point was really good. He finishes about 16 seconds faster. Comes down and tells me he dabbed a toe but stayed on the bike and restarted fast. Ends up getting first place. His first gold. We were really happy. Short field, yes. But a win is a win. And we were racing some very respectable riders in that short field. Looking at you Shack, Palmer and Gilbert. Mm Hm.
Having Phil on the team is a real blessing. All weekend long the most positive, upbeat attitude you can imagine. Laughs, smiles, finding lines and railing lines. It was great riding behind him and Matt. I don’t think Phil ever really had any trouble with the rock garden at all. He was smooth through it almost all weekend long. Come race time, he put his thing down like normal and landed a solid second place. Big congrats Phil! Wait a sec. Second, you say? Yes, I said second. Dallas beat him this week. On the big bike.
Where do we begin with Mr. Dallas’ weekend? Let’s start with the shock. Oh the Ohlins. We were riding a practice line and Phil and I both hear Matt’s bike bottom out. He cracked a chain ring bolt. Super pissed, he tosses his helmet and cusses his new 550lb spring. “What more can I do to get this shock running right? I can’t put a single dime more into it” he grumbles. Off to fix his bike, and fix it he does. We’re back riding and the wet rocks are really getting Matt fired up. He’s cursing everything from Sunday. He can’t clean the rocks either and is super pissed with the rain, under-performing bike, and the race environment in general. Then it comes time for his race run.
Most of the time, when guys blow up like this, they’re done. They’ve gotten into their own heads and it’s game over. Every other time I’ve seen this, it’s resulted in a bad race run. But Matt’s not every other guy. Matt channeled that anger like I’ve never seen anyone capable of doing. In his words, he raced the top “…like I was going to loose 20 secs in the rock garden.” That means he was blazing the top section. B-L-A-Z-I-N-G. I mean look at the picture below. This is the top section, in his race run. Honestly, I’ve never seen a real race face before. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Mr. Matt Dallas.
Matt came down with a time that would have podiumed 1st place, Cat 1. A time that hung with the Pro times and a time that hung with the Cat 1 19-29 guys. A 1:49 and some change. Sick, sick, sick shit Matt. He never dabbed a foot in the rock garden. Instead, he beat the piss out of it to take the gold and finish in his strongest finish of the year….on a bike that’s new to him and not at all set up properly.
Ladies and gentleman…..for those that dont know…..Matt’s a former BMX Nationals guy. You can’t just be that without knowing how to kick serious ass on a bike. He’s the epitome of the words winning competition. What we saw in his race run was a thoroughbred champ. Way to go Matt. Way to stare that shit in the eye and kick its teeth in. It was cool to see you turn that negative energy into something so explosively positive. Very impressive. Big congrats!!!
Joe had a rougher go at this course than the rest of us. He came off his bike a few times in practice and also in his race run. Not his best finish. Last place. But given the short field, he would not have been last in a stacked house. I, on the other hand, have been last in a stacked field. It’s a right of passage in a sense. You have to experience it all in order to really grow in any sport. All in, we had a sick blast with the Shack family and their new camper. So stoked we get to be camping buddies and cannot wait for Windham. Shack – I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll show you rock gardens if you show me dirt jumps, deal? Look at this guy in the air!