This past weekend was Mountain States Cup, stop number 5. Telluride, CO. I was very skeptical about this race due to the lingering sinus infection I had been fighting, the way my legs had felt at the short track just days before, and my lack of preparation. I rode down with Comotion pro, Steve Iles in his sweet grocery getter. He took the hubcaps off to make it look more ghetto, less soccer mom. He claimed that the van was invisible to cops, and it picks up MILFs in the whole foods parking lot. Hmm. Neither one of us had gotten much sleep the night before, so we departed a little later than planned (830 instead of 7 am). After the 7 hour drive, we arrived in Telluride. It was pouring rain. It had been pouring rain for an hour before we got there and the rain continued through the night. That meant NO PRERIDE. I had never even done the course before, so I was not too happy about it. Instead we pimped it in our sweet condo and watched the Tour.
The morning of the XC was sunny (the rain had cleared out). However, the pros start was after 1 PM. I KNEW a storm was going to roll in during the race. The huge clouds building behind the mountain were an ominous giveaway. There was actually a decent sized field for the XC. I was expecting it to be thinned out due to the Norba, but there were very few people missing. About 15-20 started the race. The gun went off and I went for it. To my surprise (and horror) I was leading the field for a good 10 minutes. I was just waiting for Katie Compton to come by and actually felt relieved when she did. I stayed in 2nd for awhile, then another girl passed me. Then another, and we went back and forth for 3rd and 4th place, then she finally put the hurt on me. The rest of the race, I just tried to be smooth and not blow up. This is the steepest race I have done. the climbs are shorter, but they are straight up. Not to mention that the START was at 9500 ft. I was panting like a dog on a hot day with mucus coming out of my nose and just hanging there, and my eyes bugging out of their sockets from lack of oxygen. Coming into my second lap… I felt a raindrop. Then another. Then I heard the gentle pitter patter which was very nice. Then I heard the pitter patter starting to get faster, and faster… until it was a torrential downpour. Huge claps of thunder were eminating from the sky and the lightning was so close that you could almost feel the warmth. It got the trails totally mud bogged and all the roots and rocks were super slick. The rain stopped for a moment. Then on the third lap, another torrential storm came through. this time I was scared of the lightning. It was close and the thunder was making me scream (I don’t like thunder) It did, however, give me motivation to go faster, especially at the steep, open field climb at the top of the mountain for fear of getting zapped. The downhill this time was super sketchy. It was a river. you couldn’t see anything from the mud and water being flung in your face and eyes. I had my eyes open to tiny slits which mud still had no problem finding its way into. I got lapped by the top 3 pro men and asked one how far back the next girl was. They told me way back there, so I went really slow on the downhill and just tried not to wreck. I came across the line in 4th and was so happy that I FINALLY had a race where I felt decent and didn’t have a mechanical. All those races that I was riding in podium spots until my bike died were behind me.
After… not so clean, but damn happy and about to start freezing my butt off. Dave from Mafia Racing rushed me off to this pizza place so I wouldn’t get hypothermia. I was washing off in their kitchen sink. Niiice.
Sunday was the hill climb at 8 AM. I figured my prep. was bad already, so Sat night I endulged in a couple of Old Chubs, courtesy of Oskar Blues and Dale himself at the MSC races. Then I did hot and cold, switching between the hot tub and the river to try and eliminate some soreness. I hardly slept that night. I woke up every hour and it would take 10 min to go back to sleep. I was awake for 2 hours straight at one point. I guess I had a little too much caffeine before and during the race (1 gofast and 5 gus that had caffeine).
Warming up for the hill climb, I was NOT excited. I saw the course. It went up the technical downhill from the day before and I didn’t get to pre-ride. The first half mile of it was literally straight up the ski slope on singletrack. They combined categories for pro and expert too, so I was really worried I was going to get beat by a bunch of the experts by the way my legs felt. AND my rear brake was toasted. I had no rear brake at all and there was a teeny bit of downhill. The gun went off and Katie Compton shot off the front immediately. I tried to hang on her wheel, but she was on th
is hybrid cross/mountain bike on the dirt road parade lap. No dice. I had put a gap on the field but lost a ton of time on the last downhill turn. Then Kelly Mattingly came by me as I was expecting. I let her go and was third to the singletrack. She and I rode together for awhile. I glanced over my shoulder and was happy I got a good spot. The steep, wet trail was too much for some people and they were getting off their bikes and plugging up traffic. Fortunately we had a huge gap on them and they wouldn’t be gaining anytime soon. My legs did not feel good in the hill climb, but I wanted the podium bad. I gritted my teeth and suffered as much as I could bear. I’m glad there were no photographers because I was making some serious pain faces. I kept pushing myself, telling myself to be smooth, that everyone was in pain, and to hammer! The single track turned into dirt road at the top which seemed to never end. I kept looking past each switchback hoping to be at the top to no avail. Finally I crossed the line and was happy my extreme suffering paid off. Katie had a smokin time, beating me by 3.5 minutes and would have finished in the back of the pro MEN’s field. 2nd was 1.5 minutes ahead of me, and I had a 3 minute gap on 4th.