My racing career started many years ago racing Downhill, Mountain cross (Mountain bike’s version of BMX) and Dual Slalom (Like Skiing). Having ridden the bike part out at Stafford lake a few times, I was feeling nostalgic and decided I’d go race the dual slalom event they were hosting. I haven’t raced gravity in close to 14 years, so my expectations where pretty low. To add to my low expectations, the “open” category was everyone between 19 and 39! I figured some dirt jumping racer kids would come in and sweep the event. With a few warm up laps on either lane (in dual slalom, you race in both lanes, and the lowest time delta over your competitor wins), I was feeling pretty comfortable.
Dual slalom uses an elimination style format, where a qualifying time is used to seat the riders. Then the fastest races the slowest, with the winner moving on to the next bracket. This goes on until only 2 people are left! Amazingly I qualified #1! This gave me a bye in the first round and some more time to practice the course. After a few more rounds, I finally got to race a few other riders. I moved on to the finals having knocked off some more cross country oriented racers. The finals was against kid who quite obviously raced BMX as a kid and showed some skill in knocking off his bracket competitors. I was assigned the blue (left) lane to start which was the “slower” lane.
This is good, because in DS, you race both lanes, so if I could win or minimize my losses on the “slow” lane, I could make up or keep time on the “fast” lane. The race was super close, and I lost .3 seconds to the other rider. This .3 seconds was the equivalent of a bike length! Having kept this race close, I was confident I could hang in the next round. After some water and the ride back up the hill, we lined up in the opposite lanes. I got a huge jump out the gates and forced the other rider to chase me down! Things were going well until the 2nd to last corner. One of the park rangers had been “watering” the course but forgot to move the hose, which essentially put a big puddle in the middle of that berm. I saw it just in time to slow up a bit and not crash, but I slid through the mud and had to correct, which put me off of my “race” line.
The other racer was able to catch me there, and put another bike length on me at the finish. Securing 2nd and not crashing was definitely a successful event considering my gravity racing hiatus. This was a super fun race, and really close, so if any one is interested in trying out some gravity style racing, let me know. There are 3 more Dual slalom races between now and January.