A Masters World Championship Report from Matt Thompson
We caught up with our good friend and DH shredder, Matt Thompson, who competed in the Masters World Championships DH race last weekend, earning 2nd place...on flat pedals, too! Since he had just experienced the Pietermaritzburg course, we had some questions for him with the upcoming Elite race tomorrow.
Was the pedaling at PMB as bad as everyone makes it out to be?
I really don't feel as if the pedaling at the PMB track is as bad as everyone makes it out to be. There's more pedaling on all the Colorado DH race tracks I've been racing on the past couple years. They make the pedaling on the PMB track feel like the pedaling at Val di Sole. I've listened to remarks from Greg and Gee about this year's track, the new jumps in the pedal section, etc and totally agree. I personally didn't feel a dropper post would have done me any good at all. It would have been too much to mess with for such a short duration of use. Not to say I didn't sit down and soft pedal a bit in a couple spots, but I wouldn't have wanted to screw around with pushing the button 3 or 4 times in my run. I had enough to worry about.
Having just competed on the PMB track, what do you think riding a smaller bike like Graves or Smith?
Personally, I wouldn't want to race the PMB track on my smaller bike at all. I was surprised how many times a run my suspension was bottoming (or getting close). There are lots of big jumps with flat-ish backsides and lots of compressions. Plus, it's really fast in sections. That stability of the longer wheelbase and slack angles associated with a DH bike helped with those spots. I don't fault Jared for using his SB as that's what he's been racing on all season. He probably feels most comfortable on that bike. If I were Stevie, I wouldn't want to be changing bikes as I'm not good enough to get used to something brand new that quickly. It takes me time to get comfortable. But I'm sure he doesn't have those sort of real world problems as he's a god damned Jedi and seeding times prove that.
Matt's quick notes after his race last week:
-will be very surprised if riders are utilizing dropper posts on that track
-was surprised at how many times per run my suspension bottomed (front & rear) on my DH bike.
-will be more interested in seeing tire selection as it's quite slick and hard packed with a thin film of loose over it
-had a really fun time riding a track with such big jumps
-track is eyeball-bouncingly FAST in several spots
-if it doesn't rain, the dirt will continue to break down at an alarming rate and the track will continue to deteriorate rapidly, further complicating tire choice
Matt's Race Report
Last week I took second place at the Masters World Champs in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, losing first place by a second on a four and a half minute track. Although I was so very close to defending my title from 2012, I had such a rich experience, I almost have to look at it as a win.
You see, since my son was born in 2005, I had gradually started taking fewer risks when tackling new tracks/riding situations in an effort to be a bit more cautious with my riding. As I routinely ride with those faster/younger/better than me, I had taken to letting someone else sort out the big jumps and more technical sections of any new track. I'd watch someone else's approach to something and then mimic it, or would let someone else guinea pig the big jumps before I'd follow them in to hit it. This was a completely subconscious, gradual transformation in my riding that had been taking place for a few years now.
Not last week.
I found myself in a foreign land, practicing in a shuttle system that wasn't conducive to riding with many others, and riding a completely unfamiliar track with huge jumps (and one very steep technical section). By my count, this track had no fewer than 18 large jumps that I had to figure out in just a few practice runs. I had no one to pace me into anything, no one to tell me the hot lines, or special tricks. I felt a little lonely and trepidatious.
In brief, I had the most gratifying riding experience of my last few years as I systematically started checking obstacles off the list and figuring out my race strategy while staying off the ground. I started feeling good out there and gaining recognition from those standing trackside. I rediscovered that I can still do it, on my own. I was reminded that I can trust my own abilities and don't need to second guess myself. I can still be my own man out there.
In the finish chute after my run, I found myself in the presence of my family (wife and son) and a very worthy competitor who had clearly prepared for his day in the sun. Although it was bittersweet to watch, I immediately found myself feeling happy for him, as I still remember the feeling of such a big victory. It was obvious it meant a great deal to him and his joy was easy to share.
My loss was bittersweet and I honestly wanted to curl up and cry. The winner wasn't the only one who had prepared for victory on this day. But as I took my place on the podium, I reminded myself there was a 7 year old boy watching his dad accept defeat, and I was going to do this part right. I stood on the second place position, smiled, and waved at a little man who made me feel like I'd just won.
As always, thank you all so much for your un-ending support of me and my team for all these years. It means the world to me. I am proud to say i follow my passions and chase my dreams. I am proud to say I ride for Santa Cruz, SRAM, Rockshox, Avid, Truvativ, Fox clothing, Thomson, e*thirteen, and ENVE.