amy alison dombroski

2011 Blogs

At the Dalby World Cup I crashed on my knee fairly hard. Unfortunately
the knee is wicked sensitive due to the surgeries I have had on it so
the inflammation had me just trying to mend it enough to pedal this
weekend for the Offenburg World Cup. On Friday the team drove to
Offenburg to recon the course. The first lap I really struggled with.
Riding scared is no fun; I was favoring my knee and nervous to scuff
it at all. This in addition to a lacking in confidence from the last
weekend's crashes was a recipe for jittery, over-thinking, spastic
riding.  My frustration on that first lap had about reached wit's end
when Connie Carpenter came to me with words of wisdom. She told me
about when she used to race crits with the men, their speed in the
corners scaring her.  At first she was convinced she simply couldn't
ride at those speeds in something technical before realizing that if
they can do it, there's no reason she cannot follow their lines
through the same corner...all she had to do was shut her brain off,
don't think too much, and just follow and do it.  Shut my head off.
Shut my head off. Drew Geer of Boulder is over here helping Connie out
with her camp.  He basically took me by the hand and talked me through
the sections. His daughter Wesley rode in front of me so I could
follow her through sections I was previously anxious simply looking
at.  Chloe was also hugely helpful and although she believes coaching
wouldn't suit her, I beg to differ. Her patience and advice was eye
opening.  And so I completed a 2nd lap with a smile on my face because
I had ridden what I was dreading.  It seemed the only aspect which
could be troublesome would be my knee.

Friday evening were the sprint eliminators. The weather couldn't make
it's mind up varying between sun & humidity and pouring rain & dark
sky.  Once the racing began at about 6pm it remained dry. The rain
added a bit of tackiness to the track and the grassy bumpiness became
smoother, which was bomber fast on the Ibis Tranny hardtail.  The
format is a time trial which seeds the riders for the qualifiers and
then eliminates riders until the finals.  My time trial went ok, a
couple bobbles but a near-perfect start. I was 17th and seeded in a
qualifying round with Lea D.  The knee became sore as I was spinning
between rounds and I was eliminated the next round.  The eliminators
are mega and I hope to see more of that style of racing - a fun event
where the seriousness in a World Cup is neglected for an evening of
gritty openers.

Sunday morning was the women's world cup cross country which I raced
the Ibis Mojo on. I took a lap of the course for part of my warm-up
and was feeling good about the technical sections...I was amped to
race it, especially considering the opportunities to move forward from
DFL starting position, #86.  The start lap was wide with a good hill
to separate things a bit before heading into single track.  Even with
this there were still hold-ups through some sections, but nothing
compared to last weekend's cluster.  The race started fast and
furious, fighting it out for every single spot before hitting the
first single track. Through the woods were a couple little climbs
which bogged down and I was able to move forward better by busting a
'cross move dismount and remount. Other than that it was a game of
patience, biding my time before making an effort count when able to
move around.

From the expo area and start/finish is a climb into the first single
track, offering some rhythmic single track into the first feature
named Dual Speed; 2 options which stair step down and funnel into the
longest climb of the circuit topping out at the 2nd feature called
Northshore. This begins with a rock drop into wicked fun switchbacking
banked corners, culminating with a steep rooted drop to a heavy
crowded viewing spot, a brief rolling and rooted several turns leading
you to the 3rd feature, WorldClass drop, another heavily viewed spot.
About 300m of rooted trails leads you to the most-watched and
most-heckled 4th feature, Wolfsdrop, a root embedded near-vertical
drop down through a beer garden and tech zone.  You climb for a while
out of this area on double track then connect back into the forest for
another wicked fun rhythm single track leading back to the Wolfsdrop
arena for the 5th feature, Snake Pit, a pit of roots stemming and
meandering in every direction. We flow out of that festivus and
shortly run into the base of a short but looming climb and into a
screaming descent into the expo area and start/finish.

I made it through the start lap and through the Northshore section,
legs feeling strong, body relaxed, head on my shoulders but brain in
airplane-mode.  However I didn't keep patience and the first turn
following Northshore I tried to pass on a rooted corner, taking a
different line than I had ridden in training and careened over the
bars, through the tape and down the bank to the fire road,
ass-over-teakettle.  And guess what my landing pad was? My knee.  I
popped up quickly to get my bike straightened out and back on course.
I had landed on the fire road and trying to climb back up to the trail
was a challenge as it was a steep drop-off from the trail to road.
With bike in one hand and the other hand grabbing at whatever little
trees and roots to pull myself up, I noticed I could hardly bend that
knee. By the time I had pulled me and my Mojo up to the trail my leg
was stiff as a tree stump and I abandoned the race.

I studied French in school so when I am immersed in the language I can
almost get by. I can't understand it when it is spoken fast, but I can
speak a limited amount "to get by" and can understand many signs and
written words. Being at these last two races was like opening a French
novel.  I haven't been exposed to much technical variety on the MTB so
seeing these drops and how quickly the top-end riders can manoeuvre
them is like a French baker teaching me to bake a baguette.  I've had
some criticism about jumping into the very deep end of mountain bike
racing while only having learned to doggy-paddle on the MTB. It's a
steep learning curve and I had a ton of "oh shit!" moments the last 2
weeks.  But ask my old History teacher; I don't learn well or quickly
by reading books and taking notes.  The most history I have learned is
through traveling and being in the present while imagining the past.
I have a lot to learn and a lot of room to grow and that is exciting;
but I believe the best way for me to do this is being at the races,
through trial & error.  My bruises will go away but the "Euro shoots &
drops" will not. I am thankful for Crankbrothers who has granted me
the freedom to choose a schedule to best suit my process goals in
cycling.  In the immediate future I get to see Westmeerbeek (my
Belgian home in the winter) in the summer!  While I mend my knee in
the next couple weeks I can plan the  winter around what my cycling
focus currently IS: cyclocross.

Copyright © 2012 Amy Dombroski. All Rights Reserved.