I’m not quite sure what to think when I see the footage from this video recently posted by Specialized. Featuring Specialized riders at the Sea Otter Super D course, I can’t help but think how Super D is so far from the original premise that was promised.
Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but when I first heard of Super D, it was meant to stand for Super Downhill. It was proposed as the DH race for the everyman- courses were less technical than today’s super gnar world cup DH runs, and more like the old school DH runs we used to race back in the day, when if you had a 6″ bike, you had an advantage, and you were sure to kill it. Uphill sections were added to courses in order to link up multiple DH sections in order to make them longer and offer the enduro aspect.
However, many of today’s Super D event promoters put uphill sections in on purpose. I don’t quite understand that. Take a look at the Sea Otter course in the video- does it look like anything more than a 26lb. hardtail is needed for the course? 30% climbing? Huh?
Of course, trail bikes are now lighter, and with more efficient travel, so we’ll be seeing 5″ bikes taking the win. Which is interesting to me as a huge bike geek- these courses, and the effect they will have on the evolution of the bikes we’ll be seeing on sales floors. With new slack angled 5″ travel bikes hitting the market, the lines between all mountain and long travel trail are becoming even more grey.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have to train hard to take a Super D race; it is a competition, and by its very nature, the fittest and fastest will end up the champion. But it seems that the technical nature of the “downhill” aspect has left the sport in courses like this one. I’ve ridden a bit in at Laguna Seca, (racing the DH and the 24 Hours of Adrenaline) and the courses are not technical at all. The soil there is high in sand content, and doesn’t hold together at all. However, while it is a challenge to build a trail on it, it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Instead of having the entire course point straight down the hill, the promoters could have slowed it down, in order to speed it up. Take a page from IMBA, and add some chokes and corrals. By narrowing the trail and putting in some turns, we just changed the pace of the downhill peleton, and added some serious drama. Put a dozer on the course with a someone like IMBA’s Jason Wells at the helm, (who is well known for his preference for rolling grade dips, ie rollers to the rest of us) and all of a sudden, all the bikes used for the course will have an adjustable seat post, because the course just became that much more fun, and more challenging to boot.
It doesn’t really look like the folks at Sea Otter are doing anything to put on a legitimate Super D event. With an entry free of over $60.00, I think the riders deserve a bit more. What up with that?
I’m looking forward to the Oregon Super D Series. With our local trails, we will have the real deal here in Oregon. The only thing I’m concerned about is that they actually boast of a course with 1,000 feet of climbing. That is a good thing? On the upside, the Alpine Trail is a sweet trail. You won’t want a bike with more than 5″ of travel though. I’d recommend a 5″ trail bike with a Fox 36 or a Lyrik with 6″ of travel up front, to rake out your trail bike for high speed handling.
In Europe, they have gotten Super D right. Take for example, the MegaAvalanche.
Ok, that footy actually got me going. Holy Cr@p that was awesome. Anyone else?
Super D in California: spandex and skinny tires
Super D in Europe: the real deal
What up with that?