Collecting Bruises for Greg Kaumpek – by Conrad Davies
Ever since I moved to Natal I’ve been going to the annual Greg Kaumpek Memorial race. But I didn’t really know who he was. Well this year I decided to find out a bit more…
People in the area all seem to know or have heard of Greg and by all accounts, he was a great guy. He was also a super good downhiller and fantastic sportsman. Now that I was mentally a bit more prepared for a memorial race, it was time to get down to the serious business of racing a fun downhill race, after all it’s still a race.
The weekend’s downhilling started on Saturday afternoon. I decided to rather practice at home, because the track in Maritzburg was a mud bog and by the time I had finished work, it had started to rain again. The DH track in the back garden (it actually runs from my property into Waterfall Gorge) is pretty sandy, so the traction is good on most of it, except on the ladder bridges. I still decided to run some Intense Spike tires, because the rain was coming down hard. And that is where I got my first bruise of the weekend. Hit the road gap a little far right, tried to eject and ended up landing on my stomach on the saddle. Fist time I’ve bruised my stomach. Hit the jump a few more times and then called it a day.
Sunday morning and the weather was getting better by the minute. Although the first run down the hill was wet enough for mud, the track was drying out super fast and I should have changed back to dry tires for my second practice run. Would’a, could’a, should’a. I didn’t and thereby got some more bruises. The top of the track was fine, quite loamy and loose, but once you got into the harder packed 4X course, things got a little sketchy. I rolled into a small g-out, and before I knew it I was on my head. My Leatt Brace did its job and I didn’t to badly hurt, just another 5 or 6 bruises. It’s all good. Took a slow roll down to the bottom and changed my tires
The Intense DH front and Edge rear seemed like the right way to go, so up on the truck for another run. The top pedally bit seemed easier, but still pretty tiring, so I decided that that was where I would try make time in my race runs, because I pedal really well. The rest of the track was just hang on and try stick your lines. The tires were a great choice, and I was stoked to be railing turns and carrying speed all the way down the track.
Practice was good and I was happy with my lines and ready to have some lunch and chill before my race runs. After a smoked chicken sani, a root beer and sum Alice in Videoland on my new Nixon head phones, I was amped for the first run. In the gate all I could think was pedal. Hard. 10…..5,4,3,2,1 and I cranked like there was no tomorrow. A short uphill in to the forest, a little jump, more pedalling an little step up, a table, just keep pedalling, a double and out into the more down hill section. Fast flowy stuff, a road gap, a bomb hole, a ski jump into a gully and then into the 4X track. My legs are on fire by this point and it feels like my calves are going to cramp at any second.
The 4X track flows well to the bottom with a few small jumps and some big ones to. I hit the left hip to wall ride perfectly (wow, haven’t got that right before) and then pedal with everything you’ve got to the line.
First run put me in second in sub-vet. Happy, but I know I can give it more. When I started my second run I just wanted to take 8 seconds off my time. I pedalled and gave the first section all I had, but a slide into the last double out of the forest lost me a lot of time. I pedalled even harder and gave even more. A slight line change and a hairy entrance into the 4X course and I lost some more time. And I just pushed harder. Made up some good time on the jumps at the bottom and managed to go 1 second faster. It wasn’t enough though. Everyone went faster in their second run, pushing me down to fourth in sub vet.
A good week end though, the new Dakine Decent kit is very light and breathable, and amazingly strong, and the new VZ Porkchops seem to have even more peripheral vision. The results didn’t show, but I am feeling good about 2011 and can’t wait for the first race. Thank you to all the people who are helping me out.
Photo of me courtesy of Mike Hannah http://mikehannahphotography.webs.com/apps/photos/