SOURCE: AIMEE DUNN
My Rookie RACING Season = Progression
Well the summer of 2006 was one of great adventure. I was home after an epic expedition race and looking to get on my bike; my downhill bike. Downhill riding was something that I had dabbled in from time to time outside of my cross country riding and endurance pursuits. I was looking for a new challenge so I hooked up with my Whistler addicted friends and managed to hit the trails up there 6 times before the season ended. Who knew that 2007 would lead to a year of DH racing and experimentation!
I began riding more downhill on the Shore this year and found I was really excited about my progression. We all know how that feels; one day something that you looked at with fear and hesitation just came to you and workedâ€¦as someone wise once said â€œits all about time on the bikeâ€.
Another fantastic thing that happened this year was my involvement with the Muddbunnie riding club. It all started when I took a dirt jumping clinic with Darren Butler from Endless Biking. I met some great gals and was told about the MB site. This led to rides together, beers, the calendar and leading weekly group rides this past spring and summerâ€¦what a great group of gals!
BRODIE RAT RACE – May
It was their encouragement that led to me entering the Brodie Rat Race in May. I headed over there with some friends with my only intention to get down safely and ride as fast as possible!
I made a rookie mistake; not checking out the course before I rode it for the first time. This led to an overzealous attempt at a gap jump that needed a heck of a lot more speed than I had going on. So, cracked ribs was the result of that; thankfully the pain didnâ€™t set in until the next day but I rode with a bit more caution than originally planned.
I lined up for the race and in my usual casual style I was joking and laughing which ended up with me jumping the line and getting a 5 second penaltyâ€¦ooppsssâ€¦another rookie mistake!
The race went well and I had a blast; it was over so fast!!!
This is a GREAT first race to try! The course is fun, not too technical (especially compared to the Shore) and the scene is so low key and low low pressureâ€¦grassroots FUN!!!
NSMBA Ripper Series
The Ripper series was another chance for me to ride against the clock, so to speak. The Rippers are a really casual event series hosted by the NSMBA. I was part of the event organizing crew this year for the Rippers so my race status was always up in the air until last minute. However, with each event things worked out and I was able to race and take part.
Each event was different and unique so I was able to learn something from each one.
April: Seventh Secret Rippers
One rider climbs the other descends. The trails were on Fromme (Seventh Secret and Pipeline) and I paired up with my friend Gary Robbins who is a phenomenal endurance athlete. He got a little lost so it kept me from riding the descent with the top group of ridersâ€¦blessing in disguise!
Lesson: Be courteous but not too courteous, we are all out there to ride.
Be sure you have your gearing dialed, especially for courses that have some uphill.
May 12th Super DH Downhill
This event consisted of riders competing in teams of 2 or 4.
I paired up with my brother in law and had a good timeâ€¦butâ€¦
Lesson: RIDE DONâ€™T RACE! Trying to ride too fast over technical terrain can wipe you out and make you sloppyâ€¦which was the case for me for the last half of the race. If I would have slowed down and took a breath and relaxed a bit it would have been a smoother ride.
June 2nd: CBC Timetrial
This event was straightforward as riders rode top to bottom as fast as possible down one of the North Shores most popular trails, CBC. Plus, bonus time points were given to those who rode stunts along the way.
Lesson: Maybe session stunts a bit to ensure you know what you are comfortable with. Plus, I should have had a good costume!!
July 7th: Triple Crown
After a bad crash the week prior in Kelowna I was nursing a sore shoulder. So I knew going in that this event would only be able to be done at half speed.
So my friend Andrew and I had a good time taking the easy route (shuttling) Seymour, climbing to ride Pipeline and then having to succumb to the pain in my shoulder to collect the checkpoint on Cypress but not by riding up there!!
Lesson: Wellâ€¦donâ€™t get hurt the week before an eventâ€¦common sense really
I wouldnâ€™t say this was most â€œseriousâ€ race of the seasonâ€¦.!
Psychosis Mt 7 â€“ July 14th
This was the mack daddy of them all for me!!! I think only great things can come from conquering your fears and having faith in your abilities; this event was a clear demonstration of that for me.
This event is famous for being the most challenging (and longest) DH course out thereâ€¦I know, what was I thinking!!!! From my riding experience I have found that steep terrain is a favorite of mine so this event intrigued me greatly.
So, the weekend came and I drove up on the Friday night solo, as my road tripping partners in crime had other things come up unexpectedlyâ€¦but I always love a solo road trip
The Saturday was the day for testing out the course. I was on my own as a rider but had the support of my good buddy Andrew from Brodie Bikes to keep me from getting too nervous. Thanks Andrew. As I waited at the bottom of the run the comments I overheard were enough to make me pack up my bags and head home with my tail between my legs! Riders of all levels were crashing and crashing big. The course was bone dry and so steep therefore carnage was a given that day.
My test run of the course was a bit cautious as our shuttle informed us that â€œDead Dog was unrideable so not to bother trying it at allâ€. Hmmmâ€¦how do I get used to it if is unrideable??
Well, we checked out the sketchiest parts and came up with a game plan if conditions were still gnarly tomorrowâ€¦it was all about survival!!!
Race morning arrived; guess who the FIRST rider on the course was that day? Thatâ€™s right!! ME! Sandbagger women were first and I just happen to be the first in our category. I embraced this position; start first, finish first (not in first place butâ€¦you know what I mean!)
So, I got up top about 20 minutes before my start time. Andrew and I sat on the paragliding launch pad and just chatted to calm my nerves. It was funny; the paragliders looked at our launch area and thought we were nuts and vice versa!!
To make a long story short, the gun went off and I managed to keep myself together on the course, with a controlled skid out on Dead Dog to ensure I kept my speed in check. After I got down that part I was sooo relieved I think my grin was as big as it could have gotten. Another exciting part of the course was a steep loose section called RTC. I was so close to being out of control while still being in control that it was a pure adrenalin rush!! I loved it!!! Addicted?? I can see why people get thereâ€¦.
I did lose my chain a few times during the flowy singletrack which cost me some time as it got really jammed in there. However, I was thrilled to ride the course cleanly, safely and my elation when I got to the finish line was as pure as it could be!!!
This course and event is definitely not to be taken lightly and being comfortable on steep, loose terrain is a mustâ€¦but once you feel this skill has developed go for it! (Kamloops has this type of loose dusty riding for example which I rode in Mayâ€¦and it helped!)
It is an unbelieveable event with 2008 being the 10th anniversary!! Make it a goal!! I think this event increased my control, skill on steep and confidence the most this seasonâ€¦sometimes being over your head can lead to good things.
Garbonzo DH â€“ Crankworks â€“ July
Now this event was a complete last minute decision as I noticed they were offering a long, technical race from the top of Garbonzo. Perfect! No mandatory gap jumps etcâ€¦I can do this!!
It was as wet as it could get on race day and the course was muddy, slippery and so delicious (to me, a North Van resident). I did a pre-run about 1.5 hours before and was good to go.
Being comfortable in the mud I think was a definite advantage as the appearance of wet roots and puddles didnâ€™t phase me much. I raced well, incident free and once again was pleased with the progression I felt it was having for my riding. Of course it is also kind of cool to have a Crankworks race plate and take part in such a world renowed event. Although I am a newbie, sandbagger, rookie, a nobody in the race world reallyâ€¦I still had support!
Thanks to Andrew and Brodie bikes. The Muddbunnies for the encouragement to get out there in a Muddbunnie jersery and giveâ€™er! My speedy riding buddies who have helped me improve by merely trying to keep up to them.
This year my expectations were merely to survive, push my own riding limits, and check out the sport that I was growing to love. Racing can be taken as seriously as you want it and the beauty of the events is they offer catgories for amateurs, pros, master etcâ€¦so you can challenge yourself to the level you choose.
I think life is too short to not get out there and enjoy new experiences; who wants to always wonder?? It may not be this sport but anything in your life you want to improve upon. Surround yourself with people who challenge you, support you and have likeminded positive energy and only good can be gained!
If you want to know more about what I think (as a newbie) about these events email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
2007 was for experimentation but 2008 I have a new set of goalsâ€¦however #1 is and will always be FUN!!! Rip it up ladies!!ïŠ
Aimee aka â€œDunnerâ€
MUDDBUNNIES NOTE: AIMEE DUNN is a prime example of why we began this crazy, hair-brained club and race team in the first place. On and off the bike she stands for what we want Muddbunnies to represent.
Not only is she an incredible rider, she’s also a dedicated volunteer, an amazing organizer and event planner, a writer for Muddbunnies.com, THE Muddbunnies Riding Club supreme ride leader diva, a calendar model, a north shore superstar, a constant promoter of this club and team and a close personal friend. THANK YOU AIMEE DUNN for all that you do and for all that you are!