Thursday, June 9, 2011

To Crash or not to Crash?

Today's post's theme is crashing, and perhaps, not crashing. I will begin with Wednesday night's Sunset Series mtb race, then progressing onto funnier fare.

The Bad
Would the thunderstorm hit us? This had to be the question on everybody's mind. At 28 degrees, I didn't really care. I left home about 10 seconds before the apocalypse began, dark foreboding skies, progressively harder rain, then...wait for it...hail. Sideways rain and 80kph gusts were not really hard core enough as I rode to the War Museum to meet Jim. Nope, this one went to 11. The rain was so intense I could barely see, then the hail came in. I took cover under a tree for a few minutes, and got rolling again once the hail was subsiding. By the time I got to the museum, the rain was pretty much done. Nice timing.

It was clear that Fortune would be greasy in spots, and tacky in others. Roots were the real concern. But crash #1 came not on roots, but on the gravel road one minute into the race. I won't name the rider who dodged a pothole and took out my wheel, he know who he is. I've forgiven him. Hitting the road and rolling, I narrowly avoided being run over by the pack. The guys did a great job of dodging me, thanks! After getting back on, I chased, and was happy to see they's neutralized to let me catch up. Classy.

Racing all the way up the hill, I left me lockout on by accident and ate it again due to rider error...right onto my road rash. Ow. Ok, its not my night, just ride.

All was well-ish, until I punctured my rear tire on the third and final lap. My CO2 was innefectual, as was the pum a kind rider with a flat lent me. After more running, Rob Orange offered help, giving up a CO2, very kind. Unfortunatelty, it only held for 30 seconds, as the hole was either too big to seal, or I simply didn't have enough sealant inside. Not wanting my pain and broken shoe (BOA broke during my crash) to go to vain, I ran the remaining lap out for the points. Whatever, I need to work on my running technique, or rather, lack thereof.

$20 worth of fancy second skin bandages from a late night visit to Shoppers later, I'm on my way to a new layer of skin. The extreme technical difficulty of the expert course last night reminded me of the thoughts I had last year: its too hard for a weekly series. Fine for freeriding, but too gnarly to race all the time. I might sound like a whiner, but I'm thinking: Hey, if some of this stuff makes me cringe and go 'phewf' when I make it through, what are other riders thinking? Is this the sort of racing we really want to do, or perhaps would it be more fun, and more SUSTAINABLE, to tone it down? Perhaps some of the riders who have sworn off racing at Fortune would return? I'm thinking this would support the viability of the Series, and the hill's business in general. Am I alone on this?

Ok, so bad crashing aside, lets take a look at a few fantastic videos on the same topic, kinda. The first is about a tonne of potential crashes in New York, really neat, and the second features a bunch of hilarious actual crashes (no animals were harmed in the making of this video).  Thanks to Alex and Steve for these gems.

The Ugly

3-Way Street from ronconcocacola on Vimeo.

The Good


rob.parniak said...

Count me as one of those racers who has (more or less) sworn off Camp Fortune racing. Maybe it's just me getting old but I find it's too much race for a Wednesday night. Especially if racing on the weekends.

I find the upper part of the course scary and stressful to race on. There. I said it!

Sometimes it seems like Camp Fortune has no interest in running (let alone growing) this series. They've been using basically the same course for what seems like 10 plus years: ride across a parking lot, up a big hill on a road, risk your life in the singletrack, repeat, repeat until bike or body breaks...

I know it will likely never be a huge money maker but a little injection of creativity regarding course layout would surely draw a few more entrants. There is some excellent singletrack at Fortune and I recall one summer (2003?) when an attempt was actually made to mix things up so it's not impossible.

So what do we do about this? Let's hear some feedback from other racers. Maybe we're just whiners. Maybe not. Let's find out.

BMX Jim said...

I'll preface my opinion with a note to my Fortune experience to date - exactly six laps around the sport course.
The first night two weeks ago I road only part of the course before the race for warm up, then during the race was rather surprised by the sudden change in trail style. ie, lots of rocks and not much flow. Bike set up also left me struggling to say the least. This week though, again on almost zero trail warm-up, and three laps with basically two foot downs and no crashes. Exactly what I had in mind by starting this series.
What's next though? I can obviously challenge myself to get faster lap times, but the course itself only offers so much by way of interest.
I can't speak to racing on the gnarly stuff at the top in expert, but as soon as the experts rolled away, there was some vivid description of the route among the sport guys including references to having kids and inadequate life insurance. Not exactly inspiring.
So both courses have some issues, expert obviously has some real danger components, and sport is good but needs some change to make it interesting week to week. Maybe Fortune could invest my $50in more than 5 red arrow signs, and we could try some new sections of singletrack. That way I might actually need to pre-ride before next race.

Madmountainmike said...

Hmmm....I thought it was just me and my aversion to rockity rockn rock.

Ya CF would be better if there was some more diversity in terrain and route options.

Then again....I am getting old too !

Ryan said...

Well, I think the course at Fortune is quite fun, but you have to be on your game to ride it. My new approach would be to just chill out a bit on the technical sections, and then hammer all the climbs. This way, its not so scary, because really "racing" those sections just beats up your bike.

Having said that, there is a serious lack of good trails at fortune. I worked there one summer trailbuilding, and all the trail fixes we made are still present, with almost nothing else having changed/fixed.

If they hired someone who did more than just build stupid downhill switchbacks in the middle of the ski hill, it could be made into an awesome riding destination. Biggest problem? Lack of caring. Their "give a shit" factor is really low, and it shows.

rob.parniak said...

Ryan, I was hoping you would comment. I should clarify my own comments: I think the Camp Fortune race course is a great course that has sunk into a state of serious disrepair. That's mostly what I dislike about it. Technical is good -- erosion due to neglect is not a technical trail feature...

I remember when you (and Norm?) did a lot of work on the trails. The improvements were excellent and the level of effort you guys were putting in was pretty evident, but then everything seems to have just stagnated. They have run the same course for over a decade with minimal maintenance and as you said, it shows.

Maybe Nakkertok is the future.

Matt Surch said...

I've been told Nakkertok has hired builders who have done work for Bromont to build their trails. This suggests the quality will be high. I think I'm one among many eager to see what they do.

Andy said...

Glad to hear I'm not the only "wuss" who is avoiding the races on account of fear/danger. I enjoyed the sport course last year (still stacked it a number of times) but the expert course has a pucker factor that I just don't think I can handle when my HR is at 180 BPM and I've got someone inches off my back tire.