There was a lot of build-up for the 4th annual Mt Ashland 12-mile Super-D this year as registration sold out in the month prior to the race.  Next year I’m sure it will reach Downieville status.  This year saw an all star cast of racers, Miles Rockwell, Adam Craig, Tyler Moreland, Kirt Vorhies, Jason Moeschler, Willow Koerber,Greg Herbold, and  Eric Carter, to name just a few of the big name Pros to show up.  And that doesn’t even include all the other ripper athletes who booked up the 225 ( around 50 pro’s) or so slots that were available. This year saw the closest battle between 1st & 2nd we’ve ever had here, but first a little history.

For those of you unfamiliar with the course I’ll try to lay it out for you. The start is at the Mt Ashland ski lodge at 6500 ft elev. from the start you can see the approximate area in Ashland where the finish is at about 2000 ft elev. Then you dive into a few miles of old road bed turned double track under a canopy of firs. After sprinting off the start & basically tucking & coasting for these first few minutes the joy ride comes to an abrupt end where you make a 180 and start up a 10% grade with about 500ft elev gain over about 3/4 mile. The worst part is after you make that 180 you’ve got a good 45 seconds to watch over your left shoulder to see if the guy who started behind you is making time on you while you’re suffering.

After the climb there is some pristine flowing singletrack for a few miles that eventually dumps you out onto a super fast decomposed granite fire road. A couple miles of drifty corners and it’s back to single track in the form of our local DH race course, followed by some swoopy single track and then a steeper bit of switchback track to the finish line. One thing I think a lot of the racers liked is that there are about 3 places on the 12 mile course where you’ve got a chance of a flat–So if you are cautious there you’ll more than likely get a clean run. Ha!–More on that later.

This years conditions consisted of darn near perfect dirt, supplied by daily thunder showers up to the day of the race, until the last couple miles where it finished on super dry loose granite( which is always the case for that section unless it’s actively raining on it).  It was foggy and cold for the morning start times up on the mountain and really blowing fog up to about the halfway point down the course where it gave way to overcast conditions and then finally the sun poked out at the bottom.  Remember around 5000 vertical so things can change quite a bit.

I don’t know how else to describe the race other than from my perspective.  I started second off the line 1 minute after Miles Rockwell’s standing sprint off the line.  I cruised the first couple miles knowing about the climb that was rapidly approaching figuring I would start the climb mellow and ramp it up as I went.  I started mellow but never ended up speeding up much.  Still I was able to catch Rockwell just as the course turned DH for a while.  Hit the 3 miles of fireroad and the fog at the same time.  No big deal I’m rockin’ the goggles and I know that road so I kept my speed up.  Popped out of the fog at four corners (about half way down the hill) entered catwalk trail doing mach-a-little-faster than-I-shoulda-been-going, Gee-d out in the rock garden jammed pedal into ground which simultaniously bent my crank, broke my pedal, broke my freehub body!, and launched me into the air at an awkward angle towards the LAST tree in the garden.  Hit the tree while in the air which sent me into a horizontal helicopter blade style spin.  Bike spun off into woods and I was left with enough time to think about the Super-D kit of choice (The Skinsuit, with half shell helmet…AKA skivies and a half shell) before hitting the ground in a baseball slidin’ into home slide.

Got up. Got bike. Shake it off. Point it towards the trail and wammo here comes Jason Moeschler my minute man.  Damn already a minute back.  Get on the bike. Pedal floppin around. Broken freehub body= can’t pedal=hemoraging time.  Soon Rockwell recaptures me. I crash again (minor).  Next Adam Craig passes me while I’m walking skateboarding my way along a bit over a mile of flat & climbing. I keep going. Next Timmy Evans passes me.  More flat stuff.  Coast…kick kick…Coast.  I’ll spare you the rest, I did not do well.  I did have a pretty good result on the Avid Chainless Challenge the day before.  But that’s for a different post soon.

The cool thing was how close the battle was for first place and just how fast those guys were going.  Jason Moeschler posted a smokin fast 33:47.52 which was a new course record until Craig came through with a 33:45.21   Ouch!  I’ve had a ton of respect for Moeschler having known him for a few years now and I’ve know for a while that he could rip this course.  I gained a whole new respect for Craig though.  The thing you may or may not know about that result is that he showed up at midnight the night before, got up race morning, got a cup of coffee, rolled up to the the start line having never even seen the course before, never once ridden it, and set a new record! Nut’s.  Sam Koerber rounded out the top three with a 35:18.01

On the Women’s side Willow Koerber had a clear victory with a 39:57.55 followed a few minutes back by Sharon Hill and then Jamie Stamps.  For complete results from all classes go here

Huge thanks go out to Simon @ Fluidride.  Also a special thanks to SRAM for stepping in to support this race.  I think their backing is a big part of what made this years race the biggest badest one yet. Next year no crashes.

Look for the “Avid Chainless Challenge” write-up soon.