Ashland 12 Mile Super D

Last weekend Tsering and I (Emma) headed North to Ashland Oregon for the famed 12 mile Super D and to check out the town of Ashland as we are looking at places to move right now. The trip was awesome! Driving north for races is so much more enjoyable than heading south. We were surrounded by massive Redwoods and cliff side ocean sunsets on our way to the race and traveled through green hills and past Mt. Shasta on our way home. That beats staring at a semi truck on 1-5 for 8 hours hands down!
We arrived to Ashland on Saturday with just enough time to drive to the top of the mountain and get in one run on the course. Tsering’s brother Themba was nice enough to come with us and help with the shuttles and race support. Thanks Themba! The course was EPIC! Almost entirely single track, it began with a ripping fast open descent followed by a brutal steep climb at altitude, then twisting through some rocky wooded single track, some rolling terrain, switch backs, ridge riding through the redwoods, and finishing with a loose, granite-like single track section. The course is almost entirely down for 12 miles, starting at the top of Mt Ashland and finishing just above the main town. Both Tsering and I were on our hard tails and by the end of my pre-ride, I was feeling a little skeptical. This course is no NMBS Super D, it’s the real deal and a full suspension bike is definitely an advantage (should’ve borrowed a Quad XC!). I was getting pretty rocked on the braking bumps and had major arm pump by the bottom. But I was AMPED on the course! Pretty much the most fun race course I’ve seen in a long time.
We finished our ride and rolled back through town the our campsite, Wells Springs. This place was surreal. It was like stepping into the Rainbow Gathering. They had a little music festival set up in the main area with rocking spiritual beats, you could rent a tee-pee, and they had sulfur water from the spring running though the whole place! In the lobby, the cute hippy receptionist even offered me some organic salad with kelp dressing. It was awesome! We pitched our tent on the lawn and headed back to town for some dinner and to sample to Oregon brews. Both were delicious. We even checked out a local nightclub to get a sense of the evening scene. Not bad for a small town, though the treble was waay too high. We got back to our campsite and gathered around a campfire with some Medford locals who gave us the low-down on the town.
We woke early the next morning, packed up our site and drove to the summit for the start of the race. We arrived with plenty of time to dress and warm up as Tsering decided to race in the hardtail category after seeing the kind of bikes people were riding the course on. My race wasn’t until 11:30am so I watched some of the pros start, stretched, and chatted with other ladies who were racing. Tsering went off around 10:30am and had a strong start, but got a very unfortunate flat about 3 miles into the race. With nothing on him to fix it, he hiked back up the course and asked the official if he could go again. They said they’d let him, but he’d have to wait until all the women left. My race went smooth. I had a good mellow start on the fireroad, which was now pretty loose and stuttered from the other racers. I punched it on the climb, knowing that was the only place I’d be able to make up time on the girls with bigger bikes. I caught my one minute woman on the climb and passed her as she was walking her bike up the hill. The rest of the race flew by in a swirl of oxygen deprivation as a I tried to maintain speed on the descents and push it on the climbs. Right before the bottom, I ran into 2 male WTB riders making their way down the finishing switchbacks. They were talking a lot and as I got closer I realized it was blind racer Bobby and his guide! It was amazing to witness these guys tearing down the trail with speed and confidence, even though one of them cannot see! They were super nice and let me by, but by the time I passed them, the girl who was walking on the hill had caught back up to me. I finished just ahead of her and felt pretty stoked on my run of 50 minutes, even if my hands had gone completely numb from braking. Tsering’s 2nd attempt went smooth (no flats) and he passed 5 girls on his way down. However, when the results were posted, we were disappointed to see that they didn’t restart the timer from his original start so it looked like he had the most epic Super D ever according to the official record.
At the finish, we spent 2 long hours waiting for the shuttle back up, but had fun talking to locals and meeting new people. The Oregonian riders were all really friendly. We even had the pleasure of getting to know Lindsey, Bend local, Kurt Vories’ wife, and bad ass racer who won my category. Once we got to the top, she even hooked us up with some yummy brews. Thanks Lindsey! The raffle was already in action when we got to the top and I filled up a plate with pasta and salad that they had for the racers. Nice! I got a cute t-shirt in the raffle and was psyched to find out that I got 3rd for Open Expert Women in the race! Some of the sport girls had killer fast times and beat me, but I was still happy with it. I beat a few girls and I was on my little XC hardtail, so I was stoked. Not to mention, the custom glass blown medals were pretty much the most awesome medals ever! After the race we went into town for more food and I chilled in the lovely Lithia Park and read my book. Ashland is pretty damn cute and the riding is sweet! If only I could find a job there…