Graeme Pitts Race Report – National Championships, Mammoth Mountain, CA 7/15-19/2015
With Angel Fire as the test run after getting injured at the Red Bull Rampage site in March, I was more than ready to show what I could do at one of my favorite parks – Mammoth Mountain, which was this year’s venue for National Championships. I arrived over a week early to make Mammoth feel like my home training ground. This included throwing in a downhill race in the local Mammoth Beer League series, and I won it handily with something like 16 seconds over the next guy. Worth mentioning - this was also the day before my 25th birthday, so I felt like I was off to a good start.
Based on my training, I am back stronger and more fit than ever, so I was eager to get to business when practice started on Wednesday. A highlight of this course is the section before the bridge crossing, right after the traditional House Jump; it starts with a rock lip to an off camber that most racers were navigating by prejumping, scrubbing or otherwise being tricky. I was the only one jumping it, and I was doing it 50 ft. deep! As Team Robot put it, “Graeme was going through looking fast and in control, and decided it was a good idea to jettison into orbit!” I repeated this a few times during practice, seeding, and my race run, to the delight of all the spectators that gathered there every day.
Practice went great, as did seeding, where I placed 9th out of 69 registered competitors.
My race run was going great at Mach 9 speed, and I was poised for a podium spot, but in a section just above the Elevator Shaft (which ended at the finish line), there was a corner where the pumice-filled berm had become super loose. My front tire pushed, and I found myself flying through the air, separated from my bike, and heading for some big rocks.
Photo courtesy of Bike Magazine
Photo courtesy of Bike Magazine
When I came to a stop, it wasn’t pretty. I was on all fours, trying to assess the damage, and the EMT on track was acting concerned and trying to determine if I needed to be taken down on a sled. Two or more riders who started after me went by, and all I could do was wait to get my lungs back. Getting off the bike after the finish line, walking was difficult due to the bruise I earned above my hip where I had impacted the rock. I was holding my side, which scared the heck out of everyone because it looked like I had reinjured the broken femur head that had just healed. Fortunately, it was only soft tissue (my condo was full of EMT’s, who all checked me out), a gouged elbow and a wrecked thumb, which I promptly relocated. All good!
Something profound happened during the course of this weekend that is worthy of sharing. I have been aware of a process that happens as racers move into the higher echelons, and as much as a person can understand it intellectually, it happens on its own time frame. It happened to me. It is when you start pushing the boundaries and get comfortable with the next level speed – in my case, World Cup level. It’s a real plateau, and you know it when you get there. I was there, but the first stages of reaching the next level include finding the limits associated with it.
So in closing, I am stoked to let you know that I feel I have reached the next level. I will be working on hooking up my runs at this new speed, and I’m looking forward to doing some damage at Snowshoe, West Virginia for the Pro GRT next weekend.
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome two new sponsors: Oz Racing and Stikrd. Thanks to Oz Racing for my incredible new collection of kits (including an upcoming Graeme Pitts Signature Series), and my custom bike graphics from Stikrd.
As always, I want to thank Hayes Components, Smith Optics, and Cowboy’s Fuzzy Duds for their continued support. I am looking forward to finishing out 2015 with some great racing!
To view my crash follow link, I appear at 32 seconds