I woke up at 5 AM to fuel for the race with some eggs, bread, and peanut butter. I’m not used to waking up that early to race (for Norbas, pros usually go off around 12… not 7:30 AM!) so it was a painful wake-up. I was glad the race started early due to the high temp forecast of 96 degrees.
I was a little concerned because my legs felt pretty heavy during my warm-up and I couldn’t get them going. I decided it wasn’t a big deal since the race was 50 miles long,and there was a road climb to the singletrack. I wanted to start slow anyway due to the nature of the road climb – i.e. full of popp-a-bility. The turnout was really impressive. There were a lot of people, way more than at the Norbas I have been going to and even more than at a MSC. I also got to meet a lady, Nancy Busching, who used to ride for Sobe Cannondale when it was Sobe Cannondale the first time a few years ago. It was fun because she was wearing the old Sobe kit and I was wearing the new one. I wished I had a camera on me, but not in races. 😉 There were about 300 people at the start and we took off up the road. I let people go by me and tried to sit on wheels and out of the wind. I was pushing it, but well within my limits. I had ridden the road to the singletrack a few times, so I knew where to start going for it. I was conservative and waited till about 100 yards to the singletrack and turned it on full throttle. I stayed there for the next hour, pegging my HR around 192-197 (XC pace) trying to get around peope on the singletrack. In the back of my mind, I feared blowing up, but I wanted to put a gap on the women and get in front of the less technically saavy guys. I got through the first feed zone around mile 10, smiling at the crowds of people. A few minutes later – POW! My legs were tired and burning. I was expecting that to happen eventually. In fact, my plan was to ease off after feed zone 1 anyway. A few of the guys came around me and then one woman. I was surprised that she was only a few minutes back after that effort I layed down, but I decided to let her go. I rode at around my LT for the next hour and a half. I was looking around every corner for aide station 2 as I had drained my two large water bottles and could feel the waspy fingers of dehydration start to take hold of me as my pace dropped even more.
I stopped at the second aide station, which was in the low 20s as far as mileage. I filled both my bottles, chugged about 4 smaller cups of water, dumped water on my head and then took off. This began the second half of my race. The chase. My legs suddenly came back and I felt stronger than I felt in the beginning. I was careful to not go too far into the red to avoid blowing up since there was about 30 miles left, but I was able to sustain my XC pace. I kept eating Gus and drinking as much as I could. At feed zone 2, they said the girl had a 6 minute gap on me. At feed zone 3, 8 miles later, I had made up 4 minutes. I stopped and filled up a bottle. I knew that I would soon catch her, and based on the course profile, I knew it’d be on a climb coming up. Sure enough, I saw her green jersey and I kept telling myself to keep spinning, stay within my limits, and I’d continue to put time into her. I looked over my shoulder at the top of the climb and again a few miles later, both times, she was far out of sight.
The majority of the next 12 or so miles was flat or descending. I usually do really well on descents, so I felt like winning the overall was a good possibility. It gave me goosebumps. I kept pushing forward, not letting up on my pace. Suddenly I was barreling down a very steep descent with huge ruts and loose rocks everywhere. I tried to slow down to run it, but it was too late. I was going too fast, the trail was too steep, and I couldn’t safely dismount my bike. I tried to keep it under control, but the speed was too much. I knew I was out of control and was suddenly tumbling down the hill. I was sliding on my back and I could see my bike flying through the air, bouncing down the hill. Once I was able to stand up again, I examined the damage. My front tire was totally blown. I pulled my bike to the side of the trail, calmed myself, and tried to use my CO2. It was empty. I tried again in disbelief. Nothing happened. Then again. Nothing. It was a Big Air cartridge, so it was the only one I brought. I climbed back up the hill to grab my scattered belongings – my Smith Interlock sunglasses (which fortunately did not break), my water bottle, my Gu flask. As I was collecting my yard sale of stuff, the girl I passed on the climb came by, walking her bike. She knew the course from last year and was smart enough to walk. If only I had been able to pre-ride…. if only I had known. I picked up my bike and tried to walk down the rest of the DH. Then I saw a guy coming. Since it’s not a Norba, you’re allowed to receive outside aide. The guy (Ryan) was really nice and gave me a CO2. I decided I didn’t want to chance my tire not airing up, so I put a tube in. It was hard to do because I was shaking and my hands wouldn’t stay steady. I finally got the tube in and attempted to use the CO2. The cartridge was full, but the adapter wasn’t working properly. I sat there for a minute and was like, “Well. There is about 10 miles left. I guess I should just start running. Hell, I run competitively, it’ll be fine.” And that I did, and it sucked. Guys kept coming down and I had to stay out of the way. I kept rolling my ankle in my carbon-soled mountain bike shoes. I did that for about 10-15 min when a guy – number 94, Chad I think was his name- asked me if I needed anything. He generously gave me his pump (I did not want to try another CO2 only to fail). I put a second tube in the tire and started pumping until it was firm enough to ride. Another woman (Nancy!) went by as I was repairing the flat.
I was very thankful that I didn’t have to run the rest of the race, but still bummed about the past 20 or so minutes’ happenings. I took the rest of the race very slow – at recovery ride pace – for 2 reasons. Reason 1 – I did not want to pinch my tube in the front. That would have been just no good. Reason 2- my left lat (the muscle that runs up and down your back) was totally tweeked. I could barely apply power to the pedals. Funny how much you use your back when you ride. I knew I probably had a few cuts, but was more concerned with my muscle. I rode it into the finish, trying to be positive-minded. At least my bike wasn’t broken, that I wasn’t paralyzed from landing on my back, that I didn’t hit my head, that I was able to RIDE it in. Jeff was waiting for me (what an awesome boyfriend). I tried to get off my bike and nearly fell because my back hurt so bad. He said, “whoa! You ok? There is blood on your top tube!” That’s the sign that you’re trying… maybe too hard. 😉
So this performance resulted in 1st in the 29 and under and 3rd overall in women.
I am tempted to take another pic b/c it looks way cooler now that it’s been a few days and bruising has set in. 😉 You gotta pay your dues sometimes.
Celebrating our winnings in a classy, plastic cup type of way. 🙂 Yaaay red vino. Mmm hmmm.
I didn’t mean to copy Jeff’s results again. I promise!
this blew my little XC mind. I eat Gus in races, focus closely on hydration, nutrition, and sleep. The singlespeed culture is such that they have lots of cool facial hair, have funny costumes, will down some beers the night before a race and sometimes even race hungover. Sounds super fun to me. And this was the best part of all. The say, “screw energy gels!” They take Whiskey shots in their races. No lies. I think the singlespeed stereotype is kinda fun. 😛
Time to heal up, get my bike in working order (the front shock is still messed up from 2 weeks ago and my rear wheel needs a new spoke) and get back on the horsey. YEEE HA!