March 12, 2008

Super Downhill in Nanaimo

I went to see the season opener in the 2008 Vancouver Island Cup MTB series this Sunday. The event was hosted by Arrowsmith Bikes in Nanaimo with race insurance supplied through GRMBA . The race took place on the Doumont trails, just east of Nanaimo. It was the first Super Downhill race I've been to, and it was interesting to watch. The competitors are divided into beginner, intermediate and expert. Then everyone in each group starts at the same time, which makes for some interesting riding. It's not easy passing someone when you're riding on a singletrack so narrow that you can just barely fit your bars between the trees. The spectators will also see and hear things that you're not used to in a rece. Like someone saying: "no you go ahead," and stopping to let a fellow competitor get past." This makes for an interesting vibe to the whole scene and, seems to me like a pretty cool way to get into racing. However, one thing is sure, this system makes the race hard to photograph. The racers only went down the trail once, and since virtually everyone in each group comes down at the same time, you only get a maximum of three shooting locations per group. Thats if you're scrambling around franticly, trying to get angles. They way I did it was to ride down the race course and get set up for the beginners on the tight singletrack at the top of the course. Once the beginners were past, I got on the bike again and rode down to the next location and shot the intermediate group, got back on the bike, looked for a place to shoot the experts and when my time ran out, dumped the bike in the bushes and tried to work with what I had. It's hard to plan such a shoot if you don't know the trails. So next time, I'm going to get to the race early and scout locations before the race starts. The trail was not that difficult to ride, and about half way down the trail I felt like I should have raced instead of shot. Who knows, maybe I'll do that in some of the upcoming events in the Island Cup. Once the race was over I got on the bike and rode up the paved road to the parking lot. This road has a perfect slope for wheelies, and I think my camera gear backpack helped me balance on the rear wheel as well. Anyway, these ideal conditions contributed to a personal best in distance ridden on the back wheel. I have no idea how far my wheelie took me, but I spent a few minutes on the back wheel, chugging along in the middle chain ring and first gear. I had a great time at the race in Nanaimo, and the drive from Victoria was relaxing after a stressful week. Next race is a Downhill on the 24th in Nanaimo, again, and you better believe I'm going to be there. More pics from the race here

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