Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Season Finale

The Tara Llanes Classic MEGA DH ('mega downhill' must be enounced in a baritone monster-truck-rally-announcer's voice. MEGA DOWNHILL. It's unavoidable) was the perfect way to cap the Northstar Downhill Series for the summer. Bringing in 200 racers and loads of vendors this is the 5th TLC running with Tara herself MC'ing the event that has a great vibe.

The meganess in the Tara Llanes Classic lies in the fact that this course is almost twice as long as any other DH course - 10-13 minutes - with a nice lung-busting, leg-burning climb a few seconds into the race. Although the climb is merely a gap in time when it feels like your wheels are just standing still as you try to power your heavy, squishy-travel bike up soft powdery dirt, it got a lot of talk. Some competitors chose to ride their lighter all-mountain weapons and even spotted was a (gasp) skin-suit sported by pro-men's first place finisher Ryan Condrashoff. But obviously the dude knew what he was doing.

For most of us regarding bike selection and outfitting the climb took a back seat to what lay ahead on the descending trail, Sticks & Stones. This is a trail that lives up to its name. The dirt is loose-as-fook in the top section, sinking into corners and riding the slide. There a few drops off logs and because it's Northstar, always rocks, which then descends to the lower section into rock-garden-palooza - trying to make a clean pass through a particularly gnarly rock-garden was my highlight challenge of the day. The course then shoots the racer out to a speedy ending through the newly restored (nice job trail crew!) Datona Berms off the wooden-feature stadium jump to an all-star fly into the finish line. Way fun! And by the time the racer is at the bottom it seems the climb at the top is a distant memory, far removed by all the other radness encountered on the trip down the mountain.

Lending to the good vibe at TLC is its mission with proceeds being distributed between the Tara Llanes Road to Recovery Fund and the Reeve-Irvine Research Center to find a cure for spinal cord injury. Tara doles out the awards and gives hugs. Friends that have raced together all season are there for the last and final and tons of new faces who have traveled long and far all co-mingle. The vendors are there to show off their new products and offer support - much thanks to the Specialized tent for bleeding my SRAM brakes on my Santa Cruz V10 just minutes before I had to be at the start gate. Big thumbs up!!And here's the lowdown on the women's podium:
Female Open
1. Abigail Hippely 10:59
2. Robyn Embrey 11:11.4
3. Tasa Herndon 11:30.9
4. Adrienne Schneider 11:42.4
5. Rosemarie Daiek 12:18.7
6. Miranda Carr 12:46.4
7. Jaclyn Paaso 13:20.0
8. Mary Moncorge DNS (unfortunately Mary had other matters to tend to - her boyfriend's shattered wrist from practice)

Female Sport 29 and Under- a slight course variation from the Open competitors so times don't compare
1. Shanna Carlen 12:00.7
2. Anna Wigandt 13:43.7
3. Morgan Howe-Cobb 13:49.0
4. Allie Sorrensen 17:43.5

Female Sport 30+
1. Brooklyn Dewante 13:00.0
2. Kirstie Douglass 13:35.3
3. Marika Holmgren 15:49.0
4. Ivy Lui 16:13.1

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