Wednesday, October 7, 2009

High Flyin' Houtzager wraps up the season in style

Max Houtzager finishes his season in style with a solid ride at the Northstar Downhill final. This talented 16-year-old is equally comfortable in a full-face helmet soaring jumps on a downhill course as he is on a cross-country course with tough climbs.

Max's Race Report:

Class: Junior Expert 17 and under
Conditions: 32 degrees, overcast, snow showers
Course: 5 minutes of high speed berms and jumps with some really loose rutted parts, rocks, and snow!
Result: 2nd

I got my bike set up dialed during the week and dropped 4 pounds from ~43ish to 39 (the wonders of lighter tires and tubeless), and also did some DH riding and sprints for training. I drove up on Saturday morning, and did 15 runs on livewire only! I was feeling faster and faster on the course, but if I did any more runs I'd probably collapse. When I woke up there was an inch of snow outside and it was easily sub 30. Riding the gondola up in order to maintain any feeling in my hands (as opposed to the normal chairs), I felt like I was competing at a world cup because there was snow all around and they always have gondolas. I managed to get five practice runs in, which included some ice drifts. One of my goals was to not crash in practice by riding with Evan from downieville (like my last 2-3 dh races at N*), but on my fifth run my front wheel decided to leave me in a berm, throwing me on the ground. I instantly thought wow there goes my race just like the last times, but it wasn't that bad and after some advil I was feeling race ready.

It was snowing on and off waiting around at the top, so I had to do everything I could to keep warm in my skin suit. I pedaled hard in my race run (and enjoyed it cause it warmed me up) and my upper body got a little cold and was feeling pretty fatigued. I hit all the corners smooth, rode all my lines, and pumped as hard as I could on all the jumps (but nothing crazy fast). Pedaling was my strong suit, and that went well also, except in some spots it was unnecessary as I came up short on the jumps unlike in practice when I wasn't pedaling my eyeballs out (faster to ride smooth). Overall I had a pretty good clean run and got my first podium in Junior Expert Downhill! After the race there was a chainless division which I entered and it was awesome! I put down a respectable time but could see that my pedaling helped me out in the actual race (chainless was one giant category so my time didn't stack up against any of the pros). What a great way to end the season!