Written by Dave Richard Friday, 14 October 2016 00:00
The 9th and final stop of the Eastern States Cup New England downhill series was a combination of both the New England and Atlantic DH series billed as the East Coast Super Championships held at Plattekill Mountain in Roxbury, NY.
The colors of fall were on magnificent display for nearly 150 downhill racers. Plattekill is known for its steep loose shale rock and unique courses, and this course didn't disappoint! The track started out identical to last year's finale. Somewhat flat, into a pair of rock drops and then a trail crossing to a drop and a sweeping turn down into the first rock chute. That was the end of what we had seen last year. Multiple jumps, drops, and a kicker, greeted us, that led into some technical single track followed by a jump and drop funneling us into the nastiest rock chute on the course.
Much of the nastier sections were taped wide to allow for many variations of lines and combinations. The course works its way towards the end with your choice of a treacherous log crossing that was slick and at a 45 degree to the off camber trail or a steep bridge that had you changing directions at the very top of the entry. Both claimed a lot of riders. The finish dropped riders out of the woods and hurtling over a nice launch jump, back to the base and finishing under an inflated Red Bull sponsor arch.
I had an awful first run at practice on Saturday. Off the bike a lot, I spent a fair amount of time watching other riders. It had been over a month since the last race and even though I left two days early so I could ride both Highland and Thunder Mountains as a warm up, I seemed to lack confidence. When I got to the bottom I went back to the pits to make changes and when I got back to the lift, pro practice had started and I would have to remain at the bottom until 2:30pm.
When amateur practice started again, it was like someone flipped a switch. I felt better, more confident, and rode 75% of the course. I pushed back up on features that were giving me issues to retry and by the end of practice was riding everything but one section clean.
My race run was good! 100% better than I had anticipated. The only section I had trouble with was the drop before the last rock chute. The section was exceptionally hard to hit the drop, control your speed and set yourself up to nail the rock chute and get out in one piece. Challenging but a super fun race course.
I ended up 7th for the day and 3rd overall for the series.
That wraps up the 2016 downhill season, and with that, plans for the 2017 season are already starting to form.
I'd like to thank Bikeman.com for all of the support both on and off the bike. Bikeman prepared my equipment, educated me, and made sure I had the tools necessary to compete. Impressively I didn't have a single mechanical failure on a race run all season!
Mark Syron, our team mechanic extraordinaire, you didn't have to work on my gear much but the knowledge I gained from all the talks at the races makes me a better rider and better person. Just knowing we have you inspires confidence.
Big Al, our team manager, for the great communication and organization.
My family for all the support. It's not easy coming up with a viable reason why anyone needs to race a pedal bike down a mountain, but they understand me. Enough Said!
Finally, George Ulmer, I have promoted races, coached teams, organized events and I have so much respect for what you do. Your passion, dedication and hard work allows all of us to come out and race at top notch venues, in an organized and safe environment.
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