Months of anticipation since the announcement that the classic Ashland 12-mile Super D was to return were put to rest this past weekend here in Ashland, Oregon. The historic super d included over 4000 vertical feet of descending and 500 ft of climbing over 12 miles of epic single track, double track, and fireroad with speeds up to forty miles per hour. After splitting my head open trying to kiss rocks at the final Oregon Enduro round at Mt Hood, I was determined to heal up fast and get ready to end my season well with the hometown race. I had only race the super d as an amateur on it’s last year as a super d before changing to enduro format, so I was both nervous and excited to see how I had progressed in those two years. My good friend Austin Riba was in town from his extended vacation in Whistler for the summer, so I had a great riding buddy to practice the trails with the few weeks leading up to the race. It had been raining for several days the Monday before the race weekend, so the trails were in absolute primo condition. It stayed dry for the rest of the week and any snow that lingered at the top from the moisture earlier that week had time to melt and leave the course dry and fast as ever. The Friday before the race the Ashland Daily Tidings published an article about the return of the Super D on the front page that I was fortunate enough to be featured in. Saturday rolled around and Ashland Mountain Adventures was buzzing as usual with racers scrambling to get their practice shuttles in, with an average run from the top taking about an hour to get to the bottom, racers were definitely getting their moneys worth! After a few top to bottom practice runs with the bay boys, I was tuckered out and ready to gorge myself and get as much sleep as I could anxiously stand. The next morning came quickly, and before I knew it the car was stuffed and we were chirping gears and pulling brodies; blaring slayer all the way to the Mt Ashland ski lodge. Without a cloud in the sky, the racers all disappeared one by one until it was only the elite men left riding in circles, waiting anxiously for their countdowns. I was the third pro off the line and couldn’t have been more ready as I sprinted down the fireroad to the torture that was my immediate future on the climb. The big dog forty tooth ring I had put on the day before kept my cranks moving the whole way to the dreaded climb where I hunkered down and sucked wind all the way to the top. After I peaked the climb, the pain wasn’t over yet as the trail undulated and climbed slightly on lower bullgap for almost another mile to the climb split. Somewhere between the sustained climb and the split marker I overcooked a loose corner and had a quick wash out, only to get right back on the bike and sprinting in a redlined haze. I was frustrated with myself but knew that it was a long race and stayed focused on finishing strong. Once I hit the split marker I knew it was go time to get off the brakes as I pinned it the rest of the way through bullgap and on to the longest fireroad stretch of the course. I tucked and spun my heart out as I reached a top speed of 39.6 mph before finally blazing off the road and back to trails, skipping over the rock gardens in a flash. I kept the rubber side down as I linked the lower sections of the course together, burning every drop of gas I had in the tank and clenching all five fingers on the bars as long as I possibly could. I came screaming through the finish line 22 seconds behind the winner Nathan Riddle, and stood second as the rest of the riders came through the finish. I was eventually bumped back to third by only three seconds, and had the fastest downhill split of the day overall.
I was so stoked I almost didn’t believe it had happened as I returned to the timing screen several times to make sure it was correct and nothing had changed. It was a great weekend for everybody in Ashland, the bay boys, Austin and Jeremy, had taken 1st and 3rd in their cat 1 age categories respectively so it was all smiles at the finish line and awards ceremony. A great race and a fantastic way to end the long (and less than perfect) mountain bike season. Huge thanks to Devo and everybody at the Oregon Enduro Series for putting on the classic race and all the sweet enduros this season. Thanks to GU for the pre-race fuel that got me all the way down the hill, Lost Coast Brewery for the fantastic team support, and Marin Bikes for keeping me rolling all season, and fast! See you at the cross races!