The location was Bootleg Canyon, and the event was Downhill Mike’s DVO Winter Gravity Series Race #1, the first of three in this State Championship series. Weather was to be less than ideal, with cold temperatures, some rain and high winds. I was expecting athletes to come down from each of their practice runs complaining, scared, angry even, that the weather conditions were sub-par.
Instead I was shocked, appalled, and pleasantly surprised to see everyone finish their runs with huge smiles, excited chatter, and multiple fist bumps to anyone standing in the vicinity. You could tell that everyone out there shared in an immense love for anything that involved dirt and two wheels. It was contagious. And though temps may have been bone-chillingly cold for me, their passion warmed me to the core.
Most races I usually participate in are filled with athletes keeping to themselves, getting into the pre-race “zone”, maybe some pre-race banter at the starting line to help calm the jitters. So I’m sure you could imagine my surprise, as I shuttled up to the top of the mountain to get some action shots (and to see the most technical parts of the course first-hand), the laid-back, super-stoked-to-be-there vibe that everyone had. From the most seasoned Pros that grace magazine covers, to the 6 year old kid toeing the line at his first race, there was a camaraderie, an ethic, and a contagious joy in sharing a common ground together. Such was the vibe, that I wouldn’t have believed it was such an important State Championship race.
A few hours later found me spectating alongside a huge crowd, right next to the jump-line part of the course. The Amateur race was already well under-way, and I was chatting with a few of the Pro men, who’s race was set to start in an hour or so. They, too, were spectating. Just about all of them were hanging out with us mere mortals, cheering, hooting, and hollering for every racer that went by, no matter what level they were at! You would’ve thought they were out for just another fun weekend shred-session with their buddies, not the first major race of their seasons. I found myself swept up, quickly falling in love with the downhill scene.
The Pro race was a blast to spectate. The caliber of these athletes is awe-inspiring to see up close. And when the Awards Ceremonies were under way, the 6 year old little kid at his first race got just as loud of cheers as the Pros did. Such is the downhill crowd.
I love events, I love cycling, I love anything involving dirt and two wheels. But I was a bit skeptical on how I would enjoy the downhill racing environment, as it has been a foreign discipline for me personally. I can now happily report that I am hooked. I felt the rush, the adrenaline, the joy, the stoke, even the dirt and the sharp rocks as though I were racing myself. And now this hardtail-endurance racing gal is looking into 8” travel gravity bikes. Such was the enjoyment I got out of this event. I can’t wait until the next one. To experience the contagious environment one more time, to feel the passion exuding from every athlete out there, and of course, I can’t wait to hear that loud, deep rumble of downhill tyres on dirt.