September 3, 2009: Last Day in New Zealand

Mt. Hutt, New Zealand – For our last day we had a marathon training session that included a course set at the top of the mountain on the steeps, then a course in the middle section for flats to steep, and concluding with the final race of the local series. It was to be a good, long day.

The first course started in the steeps for the first 10 gates or so and then flattened out for a total of 24 gates. We had limited time on this course because we needed to pull it before the mountain opened to the public. It’s been a while since we trained steeps from the start so I was just focused on getting forward and powering the top of the turn and releasing at the stubby. My first run took too tight a line and I was scrubbing a lot of speed just to make the next gate. While the snow conditions were good freeriding, the course was surprisingly bumpy. But I still wasn’t getting forward enough. For the next couple of runs I took a wider line and tried to carve more of the top of the turn and that helped get me through the steep section. On two of those runs I slid out on my heelside and hip checked but I was forward enough so that I was able to regain my composure and stay upright and in the course with a super wide turn. Normally I would have just fallen so I was happy with that lesson. I was still bottom turning though and my times were not very fast.

The second course was set in the middle of the mountain where we’ve trained. Mentally I was a little down from the first course, and my legs were also tired from fighting the entire way down the course. On my first run there were people too close to the course and that distracted me, and on the subsequent runs I just couldn’t find the groove. I was switching edges too early and sliding the back of my tail out on my heelside and I still couldn’t trust my toeside to not eject me out. After a few disappointing runs we pulled the course and took a break before the race.

At that point I was feeling really discouraged. I felt like old habits were creeping up again and all these training sessions weren’t helping. I know I’ve made leaps and bounds at this camp but things weren’t coming together today. So I decided to just have fun and remember why I’m doing this.

For the race I dualed the girl that won the last two local races and one of the fastest girls on our team. I decided not to think anymore and just ride and feel. I was a little nervous because the last time I was on this race course I crashed hard but I did my best to put that out of my mind and just go for it. I pulled out of the start and took a direct line through the first two gates and then just rode. Didn’t think of anything, didn’t have any emotions really, and I kept up with her. The snow felt great and smooth (there weren’t a lot of people that went before us) and I released the pressure early at the right time. I didn’t really feel anything other than going fast. (One of the things I’ve noticed when I dual someone as opposed to when I just ride the course alone is that if we’re riding next to each other I’ll tend to release the pressure when they release their pressure which is early and when I’m supposed to. I can’t see them when they do this but it’s just a feeling I get.) It was such an amazing feeling to just turn off my brain and trust that it and my body know what to do. I think I was as close to the ‘zone’ as I have been in a really long time.

My second run was a little slower and I got off line a couple of times in the slightly rutted course, but I wasn’t too far behind. Overall for the combined time on both courses I was about 2 seconds off of her, and she ended up winning our division. So I was so happy! The first race I was 9 seconds off and now I am just 2. Quite an improvement! So while I had a difficult first training session, I know I have it in me to ride well and race fast. I just have to believe in myself that I can do it and trust in my body that it knows what to do.

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