Monday, September 21, 2015

Downhill Adventure

Gravity style mountain biking. That endeavor which lends itself to big air, high speeds, the occasional hospital visit, and dirt-filled smiles. It's in my blood. My friend Will, the guy in the photo above with his smiling son, indirectly got me hooked on this adrenaline rush back around 2003 when he convinced me to borrow my friend Alex's bike that he was storing in my garage. The two of us spent every chance we could finding trails around San Diego to ride up then blast back down. The tougher the challenge, the more time we spent and blood we spilled figuring out how to ride it. In short time we expanded our geographic range to include Mammoth (CA), Bootleg Canyon (NV), Sedona (AZ), Gooseberry Mesa (UT), and Whistler, BC (Canada) among other destinations. Not the least of these places was Snow Summit Resort, in Big Bear (CA). It had long been a stopover on my cross-country, super-d and endurance mountain bike racing schedules and it soon became a regular place to test our technical skills on steep, loose terrain, over jumps, and around trees. Then, one day, it became the catalyst for my transition into downhill or "DH" racing. I was racing an expert endurance event when I ran into a few bikers who let me camp with them overnight. After spending some time around the campfire, they invited me to race for their team, as a downhiller! Needless to say, I was a bit anxious about this since I had already destroyed my friends bike (sorry Alex), considered myself only an endurance athlete, wasn't sure I could afford the bike or parts, and had seen a number of people end up in casts or worse. My curiosity and desire to always try something "at least once" won out and I soon found myself atop the starting hill at the Southridge Winter Series in Fontana (CA) for the sport DH race. Somehow, despite my treating it like a really fast cross country course and almost passing out from wearing all that extra gear (full face helmet, 3/4 body padding, long sleeve jersey, etc.), I ended up close to the podium and I was hooked. I'll fast forward 10 years through painful lessons, great locations, my share of hard landings, a few national tours, attaining the vet-pro ranks, meeting and riding with some of the coolest people on wheels, pushing through a ton of barriers, to our lift-access riding this past weekend. 
We hadn't been up to "The Bear" in a little while and I haven't raced DH since the Ensenada (Mexico) Urban event in 2009. But my riding buddies, their kids and I still hop on the bikes when we can and get some adrenaline pumping. Saturday was special because I ran into a good friend, Steve, who I raced with on the Mongoose Tribe. We managed to throw down three quick runs and I was excited because he helped push me to clean a step-down jump I hadn't completed all day. To sum up the day, it felt like none of us had ever stopped riding. While I could spend an entire post on each of the people who have helped me become a better rider and person, I'll simply say thank you and I hope to see you "on the hill." 
You may be wondering how we can hop on the bikes and after only a few warm up runs and be able to throw down like "old times"? First off, I do not recommend anyone do this without having the proper gear, proper skill level and appropriate physical fitness. My friends and I can do this because we are all involved in almost daily exercise. Between us we kite board, hike, rock climb, run trails, ocean swim, practice yoga, and slack line, among other interests. We also have extensive experience and a clear knowledge of our limits on the bikes. 
What I can recommend and what I prefer to use are the Beachbody on-demand workouts. They are an important part of my weekly training. I can get a thorough, full body workout in under 45 minutes including the warm up and cool down, in my garage. Some of the benefits of the on-demand option include being able to workout anywhere there is Wifi, being able to access the workouts from almost any Wifi device, the option to choose workouts based on a particular program or trainer, and being able to pick from hundreds of workouts targeted to parts of the body.  On weekends or given a longer time frame I will do an endurance activity and always fit in some tennis, yoga, swimming, or stair climbing for cross training. I will also typically tone down my workout the day before a full day on the mountain.
Please follow this link to sign up for Beachbody on Demand with the first month free! You have the option to cancel if it doesn't make you feel great!

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