After waking up the painful sound of the alarm at 6 AM, I headed over to Bryan Alder’s house so we could pack up and head to Utah. We fit three people (me, Bryan, and Brian), our stuff, and all our bikes inside his four runner. The shortest way to get to Park City was through Wyoming. Remind me never to go back to southern Wyoming. It was a straight road all the way through with flat land as far as the eye could see. People in Wyoming wear cowboy hats too. The only cool thing we saw in Wyoming was that there were tons of wind generators. They would be grouped together in large numbers (like 80 or so). I wanted to get out a take some photos, but we had to keep on truckin’. It’s amazing how large those structures are and the speed at which the blades can turn.
We were very excited to finally get to Park City after almost 8 hours in the car. Brian still had to inflate his tires at the gas station that was totally packed. I have never seen a gas station so crowded. After registering at the venue, Bryan and I went to go ride the course while Brian still had to go mail his taxes that had to be in by 5. I know, all the Bry(i)an’s…so confusing. I did this race last year and I loved the course despite my horrible performance. Bryan and I were getting suited up when I looked in my bag. No bike shorts (Chami). I had packed two days in advance this time to make sure I brought everything. I even brought extra stems in case I was uncomfortable with my position on the bike. I did remember my skinsuit, so I wore that on the pre-ride. Fortunately my teammates came to this national and one of them had an extra pair of shorts I could borrow. While pre-riding, I was terrified at the aspect of having another bad national this year. My legs felt like rotten meat sticks and I wondered to myself how I would manage to pull out THREE laps at race pace. I could barely even make it up the first climb on the pre-ride!! I finally got to our condo at about 630 PM and the rest of the evening, I dreaded the race in the morning.
Another early start to the day since our race was at 11 and you have to eat 3 hours before. Judy and I were cooking up our oatmeal and trying to get psyched about the race. I kept wondering to myself how bad I would have to feel if I were to quit, and if that is a good idea. It seems like when the faster people have a really bad day, they just drop out. I can see why in some cases, but I think maybe part of it is to save face. It’s really embarrassing to finish way behind what everyone expects of you and of what you are capable. I headed out an hour before to warm-up. My front wheel was barely turning. Figures. I had to track down the right tool to push my pads back in (the brake lever had accidentally been pulled). I usually bring all my tools, but I somehow forgot the right one for this job. Maybe it was with my chami. It was kind of stressful because I really need a full hour to warm-up and this had already eaten up some time. During my warm-up, I noticed that I actually was feeling a LOT better than the day before and dare I say, really really good? I was surprised and was interested to see how this would fare in the XC.
This time I chose the correct side to line up on at the start. There is always a crash and fortunately this time, it was to my left. I started passing a lot of girls on the climb. I felt myself getting close to blowing up, so I backed it off a little and turned it back on at the top of the climb. I was surprised to see whom I was actually in front of. I was still descending like a grandma (I don’t know what my problem is this year), but managed to hold my position. Then something wonderful happened. About 2/3 through the first lap, a man was counting our positions. He told me 25th when I came through. I was excited and managed to pass a couple more on the climb (although they passed me back on the downhill). I kept my 25th spot for half the race until trouble… brrahhhp. That was the sound of my flat tire complaining as I rounded a corner. “NOT AGAIN!!” I thought to myself. I already flatted twice at Angel Fire after having a great cross country. I quickly tried to inflate it with my CO2. It seemed to hold. I got back on the bike and suddenly my quads began to cramp and my back started spasming. I just got my bike a week ago and didn’t have the time or the cash to get a bike fit before this race. I thought it would be okay, but being in a totally different position really messed me up. My hardtail has a broken derailleur hanger so I couldn’t bring that bike. When your back and quads won’t work, it is REALLY hard to ride uphill. I started loosing quite a few spots since I was just mashing the pedals at a very slow rate. My tire felt weird so I decided to stop and check it again. A lot of air had gone out so I had to add MORE to it. I was hoping that maybe since I had stopped and gotten off the bike again, maybe the cramping would subside. It didn’t. I came through for my third lap somewhere in the 30s. Then the start hill again. I slowed down even more on purpose there, contemplating if I should finish the race. My back and quads were in really bad shape, and my knee was hurting too from the new position (I got tendonitis after last weekend and many ibuprofens later). I decided that I’m not a quitter and that I should just ride the course and try to have fun. I rode the third lap even slower, but managed to cross the line in one piece. I was pretty disappointed with my endless bad luck at these races, but happy when I thought about how I was in the top 25 for half the race, which is really a break-through for me. I know I will finish there if I have a race where I don’t have cramping or flat tires. I think I cramped because I didn’t get enough water. I was drinking one bottle per lap, but I guess that wasn’t enough. At least Brian did well! He got 18th!!!! Today is the short track and then we have a LONG drive back tonight. I have been racing short track really well this year, but I will have to start in the back. Hopefully I have a little good luck and can make up some spots.