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Angel Fire

By May 21, 2006March 22nd, 2017No Comments

On Friday, Nina and I left for Angel Fire Resort, NM in anticipation for the Chili Challenge. The race is a reasonably large event, just one step down from a national. (called an AMBC-American Mountain Bike Challenge). Angel Fire is just a little ways east of Taos in some very gorgeous mountains, home to several Collegiate National Championships, and one World Cup race. We went and pre-rode the course on Friday and immediately I knew it was going to be a leg busting, high altitude event. The race starts at 8500ft maxing out at 10,500ft. The pro cross country race (23.5 miles) boasts about 6000 ft of climbing and lots of technical riding. I was enamored with the all tight single track in the trees and all the gut wrenching climbs. My legs felt pretty stale on Friday, so I extended my preride to 2.5 hours, riding 14.5 miles on the course. I was feeling pretty shaky after I rode it, particularly due to the technicality and length of the course. The single track was really narrow in some parts, so if you don’t make it through perfectly, you can knock your handlebar, your tire, or worse… your shoulder into a tree; the descent(really fun!) was super windy and steep. There were several rock gardens and challenging ascents. National level races are usually not as technically challenging or long(which is kind of stupid if you ask me!). I ended up really liking the course…it was a true mountain bike race. Adam’s parents are in town and went to the race with him, so I had the luxury of staying in their condo.

I was delighted to find out that the race start was at 10:30 AM (versus 8 AM. At 8 AM races, you have to get up at 5 or 6). I was feeling a little anxious since this was my first real pro race. While pre-riding, I had seen some other women riding the course including a Luna team member, so I knew that it would set the bar high. I started warming up and didn’t feel so good on the bike. It’s really hard to recover at high altitude and I think my legs were still complaining from the day before. In the past, this race had around 15 women. At the starting line, it looked like there were more like 25, possibly even more than the pro men’s field. I’ll know more later, they still haven’t posted results. I was instantly intimidated lining up among these women as a lot of them are ranked top 20 in the country. I had a decent start, but I started to pop and people started to pass me. I decided my strategy for the day would be to just pick my own pace since the race was so long and people who went out too hard would get tired. The first 2 laps(we did 3), I was riding a lot with a friend, Jessica Kiesel, marathon world championship contender. I could drop her on the climbs, but she would always catch me on the really technical sections. She has amazing technical skills that would put most experienced guys to shame. There was another girl who I had to deal with, but she was pretty rude. She passed me and slowed down a lot, so I passed her. She instantly sped up to my wheel and as we approached a steep, short power climb, I heard a growling voice behind me say, “You BETTER make that!” Bitch! I showed her and dropped her hard on the next long climb. I was having a great time at the race. People at the feed zone and start/finish were highly amused that everytime I went through, I had a big grin plastered on my face. Adam’s parents were watching at another spot and when I passed them, I’d yell out fun things. You have to entertain the spectators…they are out there to watch you and be supportive! The last lap was pretty tough because by then, you are completely blown and I was in my easiest gear a lot of the time. I tried to really punch it on all the long climbs. I could get up them pretty fast, but I was sucking down the thin air with my eyes popping out, and feeling my legs burn like crazy. Gotta love it. Riding over the rock gardens really takes it out of you because you HAVE to keep momentum going. On the last lap, I passed 3 more girls and almost a fourth at the end. I was less than 5 seconds back from the girl in front of me, but I just couldn’t quite pass her on the final descent without risking cracking ANOTHER helmet. It was kind of frustrating because I beat this girl at every race last year. I think I finished about mid-pack which I am very happy with. This course was good for me because of all the climbing and high altitude, but I am still not amazing at the technical stuff and that held me up. I can ride a lot of it, just not at the high speeds some of the other women can. I guess that’ll come soon…I’ve only been mountain biking for three years! My goal for my first pro race was not to embarass myself and not to get last place. I was pretty happy with my performance although I wish my legs felt a little bit better. Maybe I’m still a little fatigued from Gila. Props to Nina Baum for getting THREE flats and still kicking everyone’s ass. She is badass(racking in some top 10 results at the national level) and would have definitely podiumed, if not won it, had it not been for stupid mechanicals. Good job! I think Adam got 11th in the pros too. You’re awesome baby!

Nina and I at a cafe in Taos

Dirty and stinky after the race…

Nina and I drove back and listened to some fun tunes. When she passed me on the course after her series of flat tires, I sang after her one of the songs from the ride up, “I like to move it, move it!” It’s a good one to have in your head during a race. Both of us are pretty high energy people, so the ride is always a good time, usually with a lot of profanity. 😉 After the race, I kept saying, “That was so fun!” Mountain biking racing is infinitely more fun than road racing. Speaking of road racing, my next road race is on Saturday in Durango, the Iron Horse. I WISH I had my new bike by then, but not till the next week. Much to my chagrin, the mountain bike race got canceled. I’m still going to go tear it up on the old course!

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