Monday, 18 June 2012

Nut and Bolts

This weekend saw Northstar open it's doors and lifts to the dirt loving downhill crowd. After last year's mishap I felt like I was owed some good riding karma so I jumped at the chance when Spangles suggested we go up for the day. We managed to rope in N* veteran Dave and newbies Aaron and Theo. I haven't done anything big or gnarly since last year's Whistler trip so I was a little nervous, but keen to try out my new downhill setup. I've tried a few different armor/helmet/Leatt neck brace combos and nothing seemed to really gel. The Fox Titan body suit is awesome, but it interferes with the brace.... So I dumped it and went with a simple 661 top with basic chest and shoulder padding. Fox Launch elbow pads and a sexy new POC back protector hydration pack complete the costume and add decent protection without hindering movement or moving the brace out of alignment. I also bought a new matte black 661 helmet which has a profile which better suits the Leatt and - more importantly - looks frickin' cool.

So, game on! I decided to leave the Nomad at home and rent a Giant Glory. The Nomad has just had a bunch of work done and is feeling tip top. I know from experience how brutal DH is on the poor thing, so I decided to spare it from punishment. Also, the slacker geometry of the brutish Glory would make for a safer day's riding.

We did a couple of warm up runs on some blues before hitting Northstar's signature trail - Livewire. A big, groomed, burmey beast with plenty of tabletop jumps, Livewire is Northstar's own A-Line. Perhaps not as long, or the jumps not quite as big, it still offers it's fair share of thrills and - if you're not careful - spills. After a couple of somewhat timid runs, we all started to loosen up and feel the flow. Theo - his first time on a mountain bike (!?!) was a complete natural. Aaron - as predicted - started to hit the jumps with abandon, catching some seriously impressive air. Me and Jason both started to find our Whistler grins, clearing jumps and getting back into the downhill flow. A great pre-cursor to this coming September's trip.

After a few more Livewire runs, plus a trip down the awesome, techy Gypsy, we were done. Legs cooked, arms brake pumped, faces dirty and smiling and all of us without injury. A Perfect day's downhilling! I definitely rode like a bit of a passenger. Nervous of hitting things hard and writing myself off for Whistler, I took it easy and exercised caution. But I felt good. The jumping technique is rusty, but still there. My BetterRide training kicked in a few times too which felt good. And the way the bike melted over impossible looking drops and rocks felt amazing. Hopefully we'll get a few more days up there, with Chris along for the ride too, before we head to BC in a couple of months.

Edit : Here's Dave's GoPro footage from the day.  This was my last run and I was definitely feeling shattered, so wasn't exactly pinning it. That said, I still need to get up higher on those berms and lean the bike more.... Next time!

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