AT Showdown 2016

        AT Showdown is back! This is a contest that all the California locals love, not to mention the riders that come from much farther away. The Showdown was the first contest course that I was overwhelmingly afraid to drop in to. At the same time, it was the first contest course that gave me that sense of overcoming a strong fear. I missed out on the last Showdown in 2012, I knocked myself out during practice.

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        This year, the location was in Santa Rosa at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. When we pulled into the rodeo stadium, it was already almost too windy to ride. But AT put together a really fun side-by-side course that flowed well. I got to practice for a couple hours on the first day before it started raining in the evening.

        The forecast did not look promising for game day. It continued raining through the night of finals. My ranger could barely even make it through the mud at the fairgrounds when we checked out the course on Saturday. Everything was soaked. AT had to call it off for the day and reschedule for Sunday. Pushing a contest a day back is a little bit of an inconvenience for riders that might not have super flexible schedules, but I can’t imagine the tragedy this created for AT, when the whole sponsored and marketed event was set in stone on happening that day.

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Sunday came along and things were still wet, but definitely something we could work with. We all pitched in and got the course slapped into shape and started practice.

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        The first qualifying round was a seeding round in jam format. I felt really good despite the fact that I hadn’t really been riding that much in months prior. However, I had been doing a vigorous amount of self-help, confidence building, meditation, and overall learning about myself. This was the first event that I could see the difference it made for me. In my experience, success in mountain biking on the riding side, is only partially made up of skill and experience. I can’t pretend to make percentages, but having mental confidence and inner peace makes up another big part of what you can bring to the table. The anxiety that comes right before a contest is very prevalent and right on the surface for me. It makes it almost impossible to focus when I feel like my heart is about to explode and my body is shaking. So this time around, I felt very calm and my ability to focus precisely on the present moment showed its value.

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Josh Woodward/CoffeeHouseMedia Photo

        Once you forget about what might happen, how you might crash, how you could potentially hurt yourself, all the consequences that would come along, and you step out of the whirlwind inside your head, you realize that all you have to do is what you already know how to do. I didn’t crash once and everything I tried worked just as I hoped. I have always been a cautious one, but I felt like I didn’t hold back too much and rode at the edge of my ability.

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Josh Woodward/CoffeeHouseMedia Photo

I went against Adam Hauck in the first round and knocked him out. Hauck is a big name in MTB and very skilled rider with probably twice as much experience as me, so that wasn’t just a brush off the shoulder.

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DJ Brandt Photo

        In the second round I went up against Greg Watts. Knowing Greg pretty closely, I knew what I was up against and basically gave up before we even dropped in. This was my mistake. I did my run perfectly again, but I just blanked on the last jump. There’s so much going on when you’re riding against your opponent head to head. It’s a little harder to focus on your own riding because you’re wondering what they’re doing the whole time. Put on top of that the crowd cheering and announcer’s stokeful commentary, and I come to where my stream of focus broke. I straight aired the last jump and gave up my chance to move on. To my surprise, Greg had messed up his run enough to where I had him beat up until the last jump. Everyone was disappointed that I blew it.

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Long Nguyen Photo

That’s alright though, I know where I went wrong. Overall I had a wonderful time riding with everyone and I’m pleased with how I performed. It’s only up from here with more focus and confidence.

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Josh Woodward/CoffeeHouseMedia Photo

A couple photos I shot during finals:

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Greg and Carson

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Huge thanks to AT and everyone involved in making this event possible! Quality events in California are rare. I think I’m gonna hold my own event someday..


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