Going into the 2007 Sea Otter Classic, I had a few years of coaching under my belt, and my skills were better than ever. I trained hard over the Colorado winter, and I showed up ready to rock the dual slalom and downhill. Little did I know I’d be taking a special test.
This story will appear in MMBSii.
We qualified in heavy rain and sloppy mud. This is where age and experience really come in. I took my run with Steve Peat. I chased him the best I could, had a great run and qualified 2nd in semipro. Stoked!
I went through the rounds no problem, but in the round of 8 I got really self-conscious. I started over-analyzing my riding, which slowed me down, and I got eliminated. I was theoretically the 2nd fastest guy in the class — and my self-conscious lameness really bummed me out.
That night over the campfire, my buddies dispensed some wisdom: My skills were way higher than my speed. In the beginning, you use your skills to build up your speed. That’ll get you pretty far. But at some point it’s time to pick a speed and let your skills fill in. It was time for me to release it all and go for it.
In practice. With glasses.
I’d been practicing with pro racer and bro’ Curtis Keene, and I was feeling awesome. We timed every run, and I knew what I could do. With all the Pump Track Nation, raw Colorado trails and the altitude advantage, I was ready to win semipro.
But the universe had other ideas.
I’m in the gate, ready to rock. I put on my goggles, and — pop! — the left lens of my glasses falls on the ground. YIKES! I have serious astigmatism. I can’t drive without correction. Everything’s blurry, and I have no depth perception.
I try to fit the lens back into my glasses. It’s muddy. My gloved fingers are fumbling. The guys behind me are fidgeting.
I can get this. Everything’s fine.
“Beep beep beep beep BEEP!!!”
Crap. I keep fiddling. There’s no way I can ride without my glasses — or is there?
“10 seconds.” For the guy behind me.
Then … peace. I put my glasses in my pocket and went for it.
I sprinted down the ramp, carved the first off camber turn and screamed, “I’m pinned! I’m freaking pinned!” I knew the course, and I knew I had to stay neutral. Attack position, attack position, attack position.
The whole race was a blur: Impacts in my feet. The tape rubbing my elbow … better move over. I don’t remember the moment, but there’s a photo of me rocking this long table top, perfect form, nice and low. People say I was yelling “I am so $%^&ing good at this!”
I was in the moment. I was unencumbered by the details. And I was fully pinned.
My official race time was off the back, but my actual riding time was even faster than practice. As bummed as I was with the bad “result,” I was super stoked with probably the best run of my life.
It just goes to show: If you know the trail and have the skills, fitness and confidence, anything is possible.
Know more. Have more fun!
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