First of all, I had a great time at the Gunnison Growler. The course was fun and challenging, the race was very organized and smoothly executed. Big thanks to Gunnison Trails, Dave Wiens, and most of all, the volunteers!
We got up at 4:30 AM to start preparing for the race. It had rained on and off the entire previous day and night. There was a 60-70% chance of rain for Sunday. When the threat of rain is imminent, I mentally prepare myself by accepting that I will more than likely be racing in the rain. Once you accept that fact, it can actually be fun as long as it doesn’t get super cold. It wasn’t supposed to be colder than 40F, so I made the call to keep my knee and arm warmers on for the race… and I was glad I did.
Mr. Wiens and all the people lining up. Topeak Ergon sitting in front, full force. Funny to think that it is 6:45 AM in this photo.
Lining up with my ‘mates! It was so fun to have everyone there.
Nice shot gun. 🙂
My plan was to do what I always do. Start off conservative, and at every race so far, I have gotten progressively faster and faster as the race went on, finishing strong.
We had a neutral 2.5 mile roll-out from town. It was so cold that a lot of us were shivering. The Ergon FJ and a police car were leading us out. Once we hit the dirt at Hartman Rocks, it was “game on” and the first climb of the race was a mud bog. People were sliding out and it took a lot of effort just to ride up the hill. I was fortunate enough to dodge the traffic of those having difficulty or those who had decided to walk it. I saw 2 ladies go up the hill in front of me and took note of that.
I rode within my limits and felt alright, but not like a rock star. There was quite a bit of traffic, and to keep my effort relatively low and reasonable, I was moving over a lot for guys who wanted to rage on. I was never alone on the first lap. By the time I had climbed out of Skull Pass and refilled my 3 bottles at the feed zone, I decided to see if I could speed up a little bit.
Big thanks to Brian Reipe of Mountain Flyer for this photo!! Coming up a climb with boyz on my tail!
I managed to go faster, but I felt like I didn’t have my mojo and decided to back off and try again later. It hard started raining and mud was flying up everywhere about half way through the first lap. My shifting was still in tact, and my Magura brakes didn’t falter once.
It was so fun to come through the feed zone and have all my friends cheering. Sean Madsen even gave me a high five! I thought to myself that racing is not just about riding your bike hard in all conditions – there is a camaraderie that is inexplicable.
Lap 1 to 2 transition – coming through the feed zone. Need more gel. Need Starbucks Double Shot!
Huge thanks to Yuki’s girlfriend, Junko for helping me sort through my drop bag and get me rollin’ again! My watch said the first lap was about 3 hours and 20 min (not including the roll out) Matt Turgeon was also there, and a great friendly face to have around!
This pic was from the day before when the granite rocks were pretty dry. By Sunday, they were muddy and slick, and I admittedly did a bit of walking. I wondered to myself if walking on steep, slick granite in carbon soled shoes was a better option than riding it! In some spots, there would be some pretty gnarly consequences if you didn’t clean it on the bike like falling 6 to 100 ft down the side of something. However with such slippery, stiff shoes, I found myself stumbling and almost busting my you know what falling off the rocks.
Lap 2 was tough because the start of it was different. It was ultra steep with a lot of unrideable sections for me. That meant hiking in the rain. By the time I was back to familiar territory where I rode for lap 1, my legs felt like lead. They felt heavy even walking!! I kept shoving gels, water, and electrolytes down the hatch. The rain subsided about halfway through the second lap.
At the bottom of Skull Pass, I drank my Starbucks Doubleshot which seemed to help the legs. At the aide station, there was a bottle of tequila and a bottle of gin offered up with the various nutrition products. Was I tempted? Sure. Did I sip on some gin? Nah. I rode most of lap 2 by myself and passed only about 5 people. Looking around, there were some dark, fierce looking clouds all around me – the kind where you can see rain pouring in the distance. I was still having a good time, but it didn’t feel like I was racing. It felt like a really nice, long ride on the mtb. Due to the mud, my granny gear had pretty much stopped working with about 15 miles to go and I was getting massive chain suck. That mid race push never really happened for me this time. Instead of getting faster, I actually rode about the same pace, but my lap time ended up being slower from my hiking escapades in the beginning of the lap. Finish time showed as 7 hours and 3 minutes on my watch putting me solidly into 3rd place for the women’s overall and 2nd in the 20-29 age group. The rest of my teammates did really well too. I was particularly impressed with how Namrita and Eddie fared racing about 8000′ higher than they live! Results will be linked “here” once they are up, so check back!
The Conti Mountain Kings were solid on this course.
After some discussion with Coach, we decided that all these long races, travel, and work (yes, despite the popular belief, I actually work 30 hours a week), I have been doing has finally caught up to me and took away 4th gear. Looking at my calendar, since April 1st, I have done quite a few 50+ mile races, and since Mar 1, I have been out of town for a total of around 40 days(4 countries-vacay!, and been through 9 states). I guess that wears on you… This race pretty much puts a close to the first third of my season. I am extremely happy with how it has gone with podium finishes at 5 out of the 6 race venues. Last year at this time, I found out I was anemic, and I broke my tailbone last June. Things are sooo much better this year.
Now, I will open the chapter to mid-season racing where all the A races fall. June will be for a bit of recharging from these marathon + distance races, and then ramping back up with some high altitude training and SUMMER in Colorado… my favorite time of year. July and early August are when my “A” races are, so leg’s go legs! Let’s go!
sounds like a blast…Ergon Team neeeds to come out on the east coast next season.
Sounds like you had fun! Come down and do “the Burn” on Saturday. It’s short, 22 miles! I rode the course the correct direction yesterday and it is fast, a lot downhill with a few short hard climbs. Then last two miles is a bit of a steep climb. I’m going to do it, probably will come in last though since I’m not fast on the single track (yes I am a wuss but am too old to deal with injuries in case of a crash). Scenery is Epic!
BTW – you guys planning any long group training rides that a wannabe can tag along on? Need some distance training.
Nice job Sonya! That was a tough race. I feel for your 4th gear problem. I was lacking my granny, and I really wanted it.
You’re becoming a regular fixture on the podium…a testament to all your hard work! Nice job! 🙂
By the way, it looks like you might need some climbing gear to get up the rock in that picture. 😉
Can you teach me how to ‘not really race’ and still end up on the podium?
Hey Sonya. Love reading your blog, you are great about keeping it up to date with great pics, videos, and stories. I am a wanna-be mountain biker living in St. Louis and seeing you out on rides has helped inspire me to get started. Just wanted to say thanks, have a great season.
Congrats on pushing through! You have been super busy, so enjoy the recharge and looking forward to seeing what summer brings!
Awesome shots, btw!
Awesome Sonya! Thanks for sharing.
Sonya – just as predicted! Another podium finish! Course sounded tough and Dave’s idea of adding water (rain) must have been a real treat! Congrats!!
So you say that you didn’t have any of the Gin…. does that mean that tequila helped you through that second lap? Is that performance enhancement?
hahaha! Steve. too funny. Nope… no tequila… I would have gotten a wild hair and made up my own course had I done that one. 🙂
Good to see you guys again this last weekend. Nice effort, and you definitely have to bring your ‘A’ game when racing in Gunny. And with all that effort you even got a few free beers afterward…how cool was that?
I think you are a rock star :^)