Riding injured at Downieville

G’day Lee,

You were very helpful on pump track building tips for me a few years ago, I’m also a friend of Jason Smith (moto stud).

Anyway a friend of mine crashed and split her arm open 3.75″ long and 3/4″ wide 10 days ago. She is signed up for the Downieville DH but is thinking she may have to pull out because the jarring through the bars causes allot of discomfort. She is riding a Turner 5 Spot with a Lyric fork. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated. Only thing I can think of is Novocaine.


Hey David,

Riding injured … that’s a personal choice. Pain is relative. Glory is forever. Or something like that. But don’t be dumb.

The Downieville DH is July 13. That gives your friend about a week and a half to work this out.

Here’s my take:

1. Do no more damage. If riding exacerbates the injury, don’t do it. Or ride in a way that lets you heal. There are lots of options.

2. Ride will full confidence. If you’re out there worrying about pain or injury, you are not riding the way you should. Every minute you spend riding nervous and protective trains you to ride that way. You DO NOT want to prep for a race by riding timid. Only ride in situations where you can pin it will full confidence and aggression.

If you’re nervous on rough trails, you should pin smooth ones. If smooth ones are nerve wracking, you should pin it on the road. If holding onto the bars hurts, you should ride the trainer sitting up.

This is key: Whatever you do, you must do it 100%. While you’re at it, visualize the race. Imagine yourself ripping that course in as much detail as possible. This time of year, Mark Weir lays in bed with a timer. He can see himself railing every bit of that course, and his imaginary runs are within a few seconds of his real runs.

3. It’s time to taper, anyway. It’s too late to build fitness for Downieville. At this point in the race prep cycle, all you can do (all you should do) is show up rested and confident, and be ready to use all of your abilities.

I just learned a lot about tapering from Greg Romero, a BMX coach who is sending two out of four Americans to the Olympics. Here are his tips for “preserving adaptations while minimizing fatigue:”

A. Cut way back on the volume. Try doing half of your normal distance/time.

B. Do not skip workouts. Stick with your normal schedule. Just do less.

C. Maintain your intensity. This is key. For most people, Downieville is 45+ minutes at lactate threshold. Make sure you’re riding that hard. This keeps the body and mind in that mode.

4. Take care of that arm. Keep it clean, ice it, whatever the doctor says. In 10 days it should feel a lot better. Besides: Once you start pinning that course, your whole body will hurt!

If racing will hurt her arm, or if she’ll be worried about hurting her arm, your friend should skip D-ville this year.

If your friend can focus on her race, and she follows these tips, she will show up fresher and stronger than most of the field (who are all obsessing and overtraining).

I wish I was out there with you guys. Rip it!

— Lee

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