Dual slalom racing: Am I worthy?
I am interested in competing in a beginner’s dual slalom event (possibly Sea Otter). The problem is that I have never ridden a dual slalom course and don’t want to irritate fellow competitors or organizers if I should not be there. I enjoy dirt jumping, moderate drops, and light free riding. I have never competed in a race or seen what the level of rider a beginner should be. Barring the possibility to ride a DS course, do you have any benchmarks that would indicate that I could participate appropriately enough to not make an ass of myself?
Cedric Gracia rails a mega berm. This is SO FUN!
Dude, what a great question.
First of all, if you race amateur DS at Sea Otter, you will piss everyone off — and they will piss you off. As awesome as that event is, it is a major ball-up: too many people, too little practice and just two skinny lanes. But as soon as you lay into one of those mega berms, you’ll forget all that.
Here are the abilities you will need to feel good on the Sea Otter slalom course.
– Be comfortable in berms.
– Know how to stick flat turns.
– Be able to pump rollers. Jumping is a bonus.
– Learn the start procedure. Watch the riders ahead of you.
– Sprint semi-decently.
– Be fit enough to hike up that hill and fight your way through the line.
– Perform under pressure. Hundreds of people will be cheering for you.
The beginner class is full of sandbaggers, so don’t be bummed if you don’t win. Just go out there and enjoy yourself.
PS: If you live in the Bay Area, check out Sand Hill Ranch. Their DS course is super fun, and the scene is nice and mellow (or it was last time I raced there, around 2002).
UPDATE: They aren’t racing anymore at Sand Hill, but you can practice on the weekends.
“But as soon as you lay into one of those mega berms, you’ll forget all that.” So true! I did beginner at SO last year. It was my first DS. And it was stupid fun!
I crapped my pants the first couple practice runs as I had never ridden a DS course nor even a pump track and my jumping skills had been left in my BMX past. But I learned something significant on each practice run and by run 4 was hitting those big beautiful burms with abandon.
Mauricus, I think you have more skill than I so you should love it. Go git sum!
I have since taken all those lessons I learned and needed to learn from that race and have pump tracked them into skills. So those of you in the Vet class… you’ll be eating my brraaapp! lol. Can’t wait till SO this year.
I forgot to mention to show up to practice as early as possible as the line gets long and you’ll need a few runs just to get comfortable.
The excitement and pressure can be staggering.
But hearing people screaming your name — that’s the BEST!
Sign up and race. Slalom rules… Don’t worry about other people just work on being smooth and have fun.
Thank you for all the comments. I have signed up and we’ll see how it goes. In the mean time I will see about hitting Sandhill Ranch. Thanks for this great resource Lee.
I would recommend going to Sandhill before Sea Otter so you can get some practice in on the slalom course and feel more comfortable riding the berms at speed. You will be able to get in as many runs as you like with no pressure whereas at Sea Otter you will wait in line forever and then get a run in and then wait in line again forever and get another run in. Plus at Sandhill they have the mountaincross course to ride and some other stuff to mess around on. Go on msdhw.com and post when you are going and you will probably get a couple more people out there to ride with.
Sandhill has a pretty tough course now, they rebuilt it last season or maybe a little before, but it is a much tougher course. If you can clean that course you’ll likely be able to do well on the Sea Otter course. I’m having trouble deciding what class I want to race, I’ve never raced slalom before but I’ve ridden it numerous times and I’m an experienced DH guy. I honestly have no idea where I’ll stand with the other people, I could be a beginner or I could belong in sport. I’m tempted just to go sport because of all the sandbaggers in beginner.
I know how you feel. However, when I start worrying about what everyone thinks, I feel like an insecure teenager. This will be my first time at the DS and I’m 37 years old. Here’s my motto ” I don’t have to come in first but I’m not going to come in last!” See you there!!
Dual slalom is an amazing mental game. It’s head-to-head, but you really have to ride your own race.
I have to admit I qualify better than I race. Last year I qualified 2nd in semipro, which was awesome for me. I got through the first round no prob, then something in my mind clicked and said “the round of eight is good enough for me.” After that, I just followed the guy down and lost by like 0.01. Ridiculous. I left so much speed on the table.
Meanwhile, my friend and hero Brandon Sloan, the guy responsible for Specialized’s high end MTBs, marched through the rounds and took second — and he’s my age. He was so solid and flowy the whole way; you could tell he was having a great time at every moment.
That’s the trick. Stay focused, have fun, ride your best. The farther you get into the rounds, the more important that is.