Friday, June 27, 2008

Super D-mented

Even though I don't cover Super D very much on this Blog, I'm definitely a fan of worthy competitions. The fun, fast, and flowing Super D at Crested Butte, CO is what kick-started my downhill career long after I'd realized that cross country racing was not my calling. However, I'm not a fan of many Super Ds these days. Super D is supposed to be the sport for all riders of all levels on any bike. It should bring smiles to everyone's faces. It should not be a point-to-point short track race or a hill-climb time trial.

The high-paced and exciting Deer Valley, UT Super D has been known to bring people out of the woodwork. Downhillers can smash xc racers in the switchbacks, xc racers can out-pedal the downhillers in sections, and everyone can scare themselves by hauling booty. It's good clean fun.

But not for long. Here's an excerpt about the Deer Valley NMBS race from "Two years ago they used the sport category downhill course at Deer Valley for Super D. That proved a bit too challenging for many of the Super D racers, particulary [sic] those who only had a hardtail bike to race on. Last year the course was changed to include more fire roads. Every race start is somewhat different, but generally includes a Le Mans (running) start. Race organizer Tom Spiegel, also the inventor of Super D, sometimes has racers lie on their backs for the start, or they have to push the bike for a distance before the real racing begins. This all is an attempt to spread the racers out a bit so there is less of a log jam when they hit the trails."

Hold up. They have people "lie on their backs"? I've heard of some ridiculous Super D start antics lately, but things are getting a bit out of hand. When Super D first emerged, people thought it was crazy to run 100 yards to their bikes. Then the runs got longer and/or steeper for no apparent reason. Then organizers had riders "lie on their backs"?

Why are we making the courses more tame and the starts more ludicrous? Is the level of bizarre start activity proportionately related to the vertical climbed in the course, or minutes spent pedaling down a flat dirt road into a headwind? If so, if Super D is really doomed to become the Super Dumb, Super Dorky cousin to real tough and grimy mountain bike racing, then I have some suggestions for Super D race organizers:
(Feel free to use any or all of these at any future race.)

Super D Mass Start Methods
A) Dizzy Lizzy
-Riders stand on the start line. When the whistle sounds, they must run to their bat and complete the appropriate number of rotations for their class as witnessed by a spotter. Racers then run to their bikes and commence riding. (Beginner = 5 rotations; Sport = 10 rotations; Expert = 15 rotations; Pro = 20 rotations)

B) Sack Race
-Riders place both feet in a burlap sack and hold the top of the sack at waist height, then position themselves on the start line. When the whistle sounds, riders must hop in their sacks to their bikes. Upon reaching one's bike, each rider must step out of the sack and fold it neatly in order to fit the sack into their jersey pocket or hydration pack. Riders must cross the finish line with their original burlap sack to receive an official time.

C) Bean Bag Toss
-Riders stand at the start line. When the whistle sounds, they must toss each of their bean bags into the target hole/bucket/teapot. Riders may not retrieve their bikes until each bean bag has been successfully tossed into the target. (Beginner = 2 bags; Sport = 3 bags; Expert/Pro = 4 bags)

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