1st Annual Targhee Super D Race Report

People ask me all the time (literally, all the time), “so are you doing much racing this Summer?”  To which I usually answer, “No, I don’t really race… just ride for fun.”  Of course this statement is mostly true.  But those of you who know me well would say this statement is BS when it comes to cross and the occasional downhill race.  But compared to most “racers”, I really don’t race.

So if that’s the case, why was I so worked up over the 1st Annual Targhee Super D race during the Wydaho Rendezvous Mountain Bike Festival?  Maybe it was the fact that I fancy myself a bit of an all arounder on the bike with a leg up on the downhills.  Maybe it’s because I have a downhill race background so this form of DH lite is appealing.  Maybe it’s because my Pivot Mach 429 is the best bike I’ve ever owned and is perfectly suited for this race.  Or maybe it’s because I bet fellow shop owner Aaron Grutzmacher of the Hub Bicycles that I would be his shop mechanic for a day if I lost to him!

Anyway, no matter the reason, I spent 2 weeks laying in bed at night wondering about what gear would be ideal for this course.  Should I race my 29er or switch to a 26?  Single ply lightweight tires or 2 ply DH casing?  Lycra or baggies?  Sunglasses or goggles?  Water bottle or Osprey pack?  The gear debate crescendo was a night before the race grip swap from my standard cork Ergon GP-1’s to the Ergon GA-1 Evo’s I run on my freeride bike.  Believe it or not I actually limited my beer drinking the night before to maximize my performance… dork!  The rig was ready and so was I.

Here’s the final gear breakdown:

Bike: Pivot Mach 429
Suspension: 2013 Fox CTD rear shock (100mm) & Fox CTD Talas fork (120mm) (Kashima coated of course)
Drivetrain: XTR with Shadow Plus Rear Der
Tires: Continental X King 29×2.2 rear & Continental Mountain King 29×2.2 front
Tubes: None.  Stan’s sealant on DT Swiss rim strips
Pressure: 50 psi rear / 40 psi front
Seatpost: Rock Shox Reverb dropper post

I think the gear choices for this race are really critical.  Upper mountain sharp rock taken at high speed calls for beefy DH equipment, but longish climbs on relatively buff dirt and gravel beg for lightweight xc stuff.  No matter what you chose, it was sure to be wrong at some point.

So, as my start time approached I settled on a mantra to get me through the upper sections which I was convinced would be my crux.  Having selected lightweight xc tires, the chant in my head became, “ride smooth – no flats”.  If I could get off the top without flatting, while still crushing the DH, I could be sitting pretty… so I thought!

About halfway down the Sidewinder Trail I came upon my one minute man and quickly went by as he yielded the trail to me.   This rider was no DH slouch and actually opted for more of a freeride set up so I felt like the race was really going my way.  I continued to hammer the lower downhill while trying to keep a heart rate slightly below red line.  When I hit the bottom and turned 180 onto the gravel work road I immediately realized things would not continue to go my way.

The Rock Shox Reverb "dropper" seatpost was key! The hydraulic action is Sweet and slop-free!

Hot… Africa Hot!  With no shade in sight and 90 degree temps, the gravel work road impersonated a tanning bed with a broken thermostat while my hopes for a good race disappeared down the long narrow tunnel that became my vision.   In no time the one minute man I passed earlier came screaming by me like he was on a road bike offering a somewhat friendly, somewhat mocking, “Good job Fitzy”.  Yes… this is why I usually choose to race cross in the cool temps of Fall.  Overheating turned to chills and thoughts of pulling out due to heat stroke started to taunt me.  Seriously.. I can’t pin it in the heat.

I suffered up the rest of the climb in granny gear only to turn into the second DH section (the only part of the course I hadn’t ridden previously).  Somehow I held onto my bars while bouncing deliriously through the Forest onto the next climb on the Lightning Ridge trail.  The heat stroke feelings subsided a bit but there was no energy left in the tank.   I did my best to click into a higher gear when possible, but one more rider managed to slip past me heading out to Lightning Ridge.  “Oh no, will there be more?  Am I totally crumbling out here?  Will the hardtail guys beat me?”

Luckily, I was able to compose myself once the trail turned down again into Mill Creek.  My only option was to go for broke and see what sort of downhill prowess I could tap to real in the riders ahead.  “Stay focused – empty the bowl” was the new mantra flowing through my brain as clearing my head of all the random thoughts (emptying the bowl) was critical to staying upright.  Mill Creek in general is not considered to be technical in nature, but at top speed, the hidden off trail rocks jump out at you like snow snakes and a major crash is all but inevitable.  Many two wheel drifts and split second bunny hops later and I was hammering across the finish line.  Cooked.

I can't say enough about the Shadow Plus derailuers. My XTR Shadow Plus makes my bike ride quiet like a singlespeed and I never dropped a chain at the Super D!


In the end, I maintained a respectable time and actually took 3rd on the Expert podium.  Of course there were a few “sandbagger” comments from guys who I beat in the Pro division, but I feel that most of the racers who signed up for Pro should have been in Expert as the true “Pros” like Troy Olson, Andrew Whitford, and Jay Petervary (1-2-3 respectively) were the ones to watch out for.

Men's Expert Podium


2 Final observations: 1. The Targhee Super D course was EPIC, but I think a reduction of climbing would make the race even better.  I’ve never done a Super D before, but I was stoked to see a great combination of xc racers and dh freeriders on the start line and I’m not sure the DH/Freeride guys will be back next year if the course remains so favorable to the xc guys.  2. The Pivot Mach 429 was the perfect bike for that course and earned even more of my love with it’s performance.  I actually talked to the bike afterwards and told it how impressed I was with it – my favorite bike ever!

Well, that’s it…. except for… yes, the brutal reality that after an hour and seven minutes of intense racing, I lost my bet to Aaron by 15 seconds!  See you at the Hub!


One Response to “1st Annual Targhee Super D Race Report”

  1. Walt says:

    Seems like a crazy tire pressure to run, but then again I don’t know 29ers. Do 29ers genrally run at a higher pressure than 26″ tires? Just wondering becuase at that pressure, it would seem to defeat the purpose of going tubeless… at least in 26″ tires it would.

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