Dogriver Super D
Words and photos by Kyle Von Hoetzendorff
I have my rituals you see, and they must be respected. Coffee, breakfast burritos, a Porta-John in that order, my body demands it, directs me. As long as I have been racing in the Pacific NW it has always been the same. I expect it, settles the nerves. Forget about going to bed early, having a protein shake, or sitting in a bath of ice cubes while there is perfectly good hot water pulsing just beyond the walls. Take the shower, have some pizza, stay up all night. I know who I want to beat and we were out drinking last night.
This is amateur racing in your 30s, this is beer at the starting line, long-range intimidation practices, strategic heckles, head games. Fitness at this stage isn’t just about VO2 Max or lactic thresholds, its about the rest of it, throwing life’s little chosen challenges into the mix, try whiskey soaked sleep deprivation giving you the shakes in the starting gate. Not that everything requires a debauched approach; it’s just that it also doesn’t, so why not?
Super D racing, like all types of racing, fits this program perfectly. In this particular case, the Mountain Man Challenge Dogriver Super D, the extended descent is punctuated mid race with a ball buster climb. This would be the decisive section, whoever could make it through the climb the fastest with a modicum of energy in reserve would rule the day. Alex “KrunkShox” McGuiness would take first place in just over 22 minutes, followed closely by all-pro Matt Slaven and Team Robots very own “Chaz” Sponsel. I would finish in just over 25 minutes, mid-pack, I would be tired, I would want sleep.
Take a survey and the vast majority of cyclists who haven’t spent a day descending don’t have any idea who strenuous it can be. It’s “cheating” they say as if descending is the unfortunate outcome of so many arduous minutes spent slowly suffering on the cranks while climbing the nearest crucible. In fact, as our frozen water cousins found out years ago, the descent presents its own unique challenge that once appreciated can be developed and refined. Time passes differently here, we don’t chat, life, outside life, must be put on hold, clear your schedule, erase the board, we are talking undivided attention. Your nerves not to mention your legs, butt, back, arms, neck, chest, and abs are constantly on high alert, think Gorbachev and Regan white knuckling their red phones. This race is after all an act that is antithetical to our biological imperative, you are challenging gravity, and gravity has, and will, ALWAYS win.
Why do it then? Take away the wolves, the lions, the tribal warfare and your left with an egregious surplus of need-to-survive. Chemicals man, chemicals bend reason, chemicals create their own logic, and this is how I find myself hurtling down the side of a mountain, oxygen deprived, on the edge of control, in a race for no money and no fame. Chemicals.
I am not saying that this is better than that, than something, anything else. If you are reading this lovely site then you probably like bikes, and if you like bikes, have the time to like bikes, then your life is pretty good. Sometimes it’s nice to know that it’s good for someone else too. Its chemical man.
Follow Kyle on Instagram.