Racing masters downhill worlds on the Pink Mistress

The Pink Mistress feels so good, so capable, that I decided not to race the Demo Race downhill bike at the 2024 UCI Masters Downhill Mountain Bike World Championships. After 22 years with Specialized, I wrote them a note thanking them for their long support and telling them I have to make my own bikes. They said “Right on man!”

Why did I race a trail bike instead of a downhill bike?

1. In my training rides, the Pink Mistress just felt better to me. She fits me to the millimeter, and that Warm Embrace geometry just plain works. On the trails I used for training, the Mistress was faster (and way funner) than the Demo. I PRed a local rocky decent I had the KOM on before my shoulders gave out. Yeah. I’m faster at 54 on the Mistress than I was at 38 on an Enduro.

2. This race was a symbolic act for me. I wanted to do it my way, on my own bike, as a spiritual journey. That felt so badass. Plus, if the Warm Embrace geometry works on a muddy gnarly world championship downhill track, it’ll work everywhere right?

3. I honestly thought the track was flatter and smoother than it is. Watching Mick Hannah’s POV footage creates quite the illuision of smoothness. Holy cow the track at Cairns, Queensland, Australia has steepness and some extremely rough rainforest roots! I had a blast riding it, but wow I got pummeled. This is less than a year after my left shoulder replacement, so I wasn’t at full strength yet. I ignored that fact.

How did the bike work?

It was so fun!!!! First of all, on a trail bike you can raise the seat and pedal around. That makes it very easy to live with.

In all the smoother turns and huge junps, the Mistress was the perfect bike for me. I was so fast and smooth … I caught my 30-second man 60 seconds into my race run.

Like I said, I’m fresh off shoulder replacements and not at full strength. From the couch to the race course I got maybe a dozen training rides. I rode extremely well, but my nervous system wasn’t up to race speed. I had mega fun and met all my goals.

Most important, the Mistress Warm Embrace geometry has been proven in *international downhill competition.* Despite that insane track, there was no trace of going over the bars or losing the front wheel in a turn — even in the tropical death mud.

What random craziness happened?

Ah yes. How about breaking my chainring at the start of the seeding run, then riding chainless on a track with two uphills and a flat finish? I got the big jumps with the chain wrapped around my pedal. The master of pump, I slalomed out of the final dirt road and seeded slow but not last. Check out the fix of the ring. It held!

My slow seeding run put me with the slower riders. I caught my 30-second man a minute in, at the most slippery area. I had to brake, and that made a crash. From there I rode like a beast, hitting all the jumps (and sending one way too far). I caught another rider in a tricky spot, but I got the next section clean. I did what I could in the roots, which was get beaten senseless. It was a beautiful run, done my way for me, and I’m super proud.

Somewhere on that track I used a special feature of the prototype: a one-time rear travel extender via deflection of the down tune. Don’t worry, production bikes will be totally different. 🙂

I finished 9th place on a trail bike with new shoulders and — more importantly — I enjoyed every moment. What a dream come true, if I had enough imagination to dream this big.

Crossing the line safe and happy. Photo by E Meaney.

If you want to experience more of this incredible adventure, check out my YouTube and Instagram feeds.

What’s next?

I thought this would be my last downhill race, but right now I’m planning to make a Mistress DH. This unicorn of a bike will have downhill-bike suspension with Warm Embrace geometry and a straight seat tube so I can use a dropper and ride it around. It’s a trail bike for a guy with artificial shoulders.

The original Pink Mistress is currently getting an upgraded downtube so we can have fun this summer riding the local gnar and the DH resorts.

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