Stage 1 was here. I didn’t know what to expect, so I simply expected myself to put out my best effort.
I was pleased that I was able to stick in the lead group on the road at the start. Wendy Simms took off in front of me. I had no expectations of staying with her, so I settled into my own pace. I was riding comfortably in 2nd place. The trail was rooty, but manageable on the hardtail. I knew my body would be fresh for day 1, but it was clear that I’d be taking a serious beating from the BC singletrack. The first Gravity Enduro section was pretty exciting. As a side note, each stage had 2 times downhill sections called “Gravity Enduro.” I think this is such a great idea for those DH oriented folks! I just tried to get the hell out of the way. There were some pretty big rock faces to ride down and some steep, narrow mud sections.
I started heading down a gravel descent, following the guy in front of me. I wasn’t particularly looking for course tape. At the bottom of the gravel, there was singletrack with course marking tape. It didn’t seem right, but the course was marked so I kept going. That’s when the first disaster of the week struck. There was a guy named Jake (who is actually an Olympic rower). He was riding toward me on the singeltrack. I instantly knew I took a wrong turn. He clarified the fact and I followed him. I tried not to get frustrated and to accept that it happened and there was nothing I could do to change it. We picked up another guy who I actually knew from the Brasil Ride the first day I rode it – Roger. There were forks in the road and we explored each one trying to find our way back to where we went off course. I was so thankful to have Jake and Roger there or I still might be out there trying to find my way back! “oh great, am I going to have to use my whistle on day 1? I wish I brought my phone.” Somehow Jake found his way back to the course. At that point, about 20 minutes had gone by and the fast girls in my field.
So long, 2nd place.
I was extremely discouraged to start a stage race this way… 20 minutes down. I tried to think positive and blasted through the rest of the course. In the end, I finished in 6th place, and a good 15 minutes out of 2nd place. I tried to joke saying the course wasn’t long enough for me and I wanted to do some extra miles. Inside, I wanted to punch a pillow. The announcer came up to me after and said, “We were waiting for you at the finish line to do an interview, but you never came.” I hoped to give them a different story in the days to come.
I’ve come back from the bowels of adversity before, and I wasn’t going to let day 1 defeat me. That night, I heard the pitter patter of rain in my tent. It was raining…and still raining when I woke up to start Stage 2.