Ali’s Race Journal: Mtn Creek Spring Classic

We’re stoked to announce that Ali Zimmer is partnering with MTBVT again for 2014. This year she’s joined the VT Gravity Racing team, run by fellow VT based racer and friend Dylan Conte. She’ll be traveling the East Coast and the country on the Pro Enduro and DH circuits this season as well as competing in the Mont St. Anne, QC and Windham, NY World Cup DH races. With support from Cycles Xprezo, Deity Components, Fly Racing, The Alchemist, The Bike Center in Middlebury, VT, Green Mountain Bikes in Rochester, VT, Champlain Valley Apiary, and Tretap, we can’t wait to see what Ali accomplishes this year!

Words: Alison Zimmer
Photos: Brice Shirbach and David Tufino

Racing Resumes at Mountain Creek

Thursday evening I was packed up and ready to head to Mountain Creek Bike Park after a long day of work, however I found myself at home instead so I could pickle wild ramps before they dissapear for the year, and spend a little more time with my sweeties at home.

Friday began early with a 3:40 am departure. I arrived at Mtn creek as the lifts opened at 9am, and hooked up with team mate Dylan Conte, registered, and got four solid runs in on the DH course before the drizzle became rain. My first DH runs of the season on a really fun track, and probably one of the more mellow tracks on the DH circuit… By my last run the new hip jump, Candy Land double and the last 40+ foot finsh line jump were all feeling decent. My first two crashes of the season already had me feeling it, and the jitters just would not go away. This followed with a couple runs on the Super-D course in the rain, which continued all evening as we retired to a cozy condo down the road courtesy of Richie (Dylan’s dad).

Charging the Super-D. Photo: David TufinoCharging the Super-D. Photo: David Tufino

Back on top of the podium! Photo: David TufinoBack on top of the podium! Photo: David Tufino

Saturday began with a couple more laps on the DH course, which was greasy but drying, and one partial lap of the Super D course. However a line flaw in my run had me unclip and step off the bike only to sustain an L ankle sprain. Well, good thing I brought my traveling PT kit! Arnica, and Asian Oils applied under an Ace wrap and I was good to go, albeit with a slight hitch in my stride.

The Super-D race started at 1:45pm with 5 women (a combination of 3 Pros and 2 amateurs). The hole shot found me down the first switch back turns, and for the rest of the race I was alone. With the pedally section was over, Tempest to Waterboy was a super fun descent and took me to the finish line for my first win of the season. By now I’m feeling my racing self coming alive again. Although the plan was to get a couple DH practice runs in, my body held me back as R and R seemed more essential. The qualifying run is just another practice, and the opportunity to practice more in the evening and tomorrow morning was a better option then draining myself. The DH qualifying run was smooth. I was conservative as it had dried up immensely since I had last ridden it. Still, my ranking was 3rd, and I was feeling more confident.

Pinned through the rock garden. Photo: Brice ShirbachPinned through the rock garden. Photo: Brice Shirbach

Sunday began with a beautiful morning course walk to reveal a super fast and tacky track. Primo condiions and weather! I had just a few spots to work on, which by my 3rd and final pracitce lap were dialed. I waited at the last field runout to follow a friend into the finsih line kicker with more speed than before, however he had a flat tire. I rallied to the 40+ ft jump none the less, with better speed and more confidence than before, then the lights went out. Friends who observed the crash said the wind gusted and blew me off line, projecting me over the bars, the bike on top of me and then sliding down the back side of the jump 20 feet into a heep.

Full speed ahead. Photo: Brice ShirbachFull speed ahead. Photo: Brice Shirbach

Photo: Brice ShirbachPhoto: Brice Shirbach

The next thing I know I am being strapped to a back board, told not to move my neck, and loaded onto a cart bringing me to the medical building. I was grilled by paramedics but released as my consiousness came back quickly, I showed no concussive symptoms, and my limbs were intact! Phew, that was too close. Back to the pits, to find my bike with a ruined grip and twisted scuffed bars, however Dylan had her back up and running in no time. I accessed my ability to stand on one foot with my eyes closed, talk, see, remember, walk the line, and ate and drank while contemplating what to do with the afternoon. I went for a mello cruise down a mountain trail with a friend and felt good. No headache, no dizziness, good balance, miraculously I seemed OK. However, I knew another serious fall was not an option. What to do… I talked with my team mates, and thought hard about my decision to race or not. I felt confident with the course and my lines, and made a pact with myself to take it smooth and minimize risk, and that I would stop in the instant I started to feel like I was off my game.

Race time came, jitters were almost uncontrollable. I stayed focused, hit my lines, speed checked more than I wanted too, but kept it safe, and happily came in with a 3rd! I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to race, and that my head is clear and my body sound.

So hear goes another season of riding and racing, but WOW the body is beat down and sore today!!!!

-AZ

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