Maureen Gaffney (California, United States)

For three years in a row I haphazardly entered and raced the Downieville Downhill, a challenging one-hour + downhill race on challenging terrain--the only "downhill" race with a significant climb thrown in for good measure. While I fancied myself a fairly accomplished mountain biker, the first year I was 6th out of 8, the second year I looked at a rock wrong and ended up clinging to a tree suspended over the canyon with a broken rib, and the third year I don't remember so it clearly didn't end with me on the podium.
Before my fourth attempt, I decided it was time to call in professional help. I needed to bag this thing once and for all. I had a lesson with Celia on a challenging single track in Marin, myself and one other student. Celia knew every subtle twist and drop on the route and stopped us before each obstacle so we could walk, discuss, and dissect it. Her intuitive understanding of my capabilities (and limitations) and those of my fellow student were confidence inspiring. We spent time on each section, going over and over it until it felt like a trip down the bike path.   

Armed with a new resolve and skillset, I awaited my start at the top of the Downieville course, podium in my sights, and Celia's lyrical Latina voice in my head coaching, goading, prodding me to finally claim this race. With Celia's help and a whole lotta luck in the form of no flat tires, I cleaned the entire course (okay, I didn't ride the waterfall....or the rock face.....) and came in 1st, a full 6 minutes ahead of 2nd place, and most importantly, fully intact with a dirt-laced smile on my face.

Many many thanks to Celia for teaching me to take the time, and for her keen understanding of when to scream at me (lovingly), and when to say "we'll do it next time".

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