After the disaster in Brazil and the unfortunate happenstance with American Airlines(losing our bikes so we could not race), I decided at the last minute to end my season with a race I would actually start! I didn’t really prepare for it, but figured I’d have some fitness after getting in a 250 mile week of riding in Brazil (at least our bikes showed up eventually and I got to ride 5 days!), a few cross races, some cross training (running, yoga, gym) but minimal riding during the week.
Yuki convinced me to sign up for the race. I had never heard of it! I had been to Amarillo before and it was hard to imagine there were cool trails. I found out that it’s the second largest canyon in the United States. Yuki ended up with the flu (poor guy) so I was on my own. As I descended on the road into the canyon, I was shocked at the dramatic colors and stunning landscape.
I was greeted by some of my favorite guys in Colorado from the Trek and Epic Endurance team. We rode a lap in the wind and sun together. My legs were feeling very heavy and I was trying not to be frustrated that I couldn’t keep up with them. Instead of putting pressure on it, I decided to hang back, take photos, and not worry too much. I had an 8 hour drive the day before and crossed my fingers it was a case of car legs.
I headed back to Canyon for the night. My good friend Nina stayed with me and was also racing. In fact, she was my main competition for the next day and I knew I was in for a battle. Nina was my mentor when I first started riding and is an individual I have always looked up to. She’s a great friend and a stellar example. We stayed up late talking (no pillow fights, sorry boys) and got up the next AM to race.
We lined up at 10:30 AM to start. There were maybe 100 people racing.
The pack was very sketchy at the start. There was almost a crash and the sound of tires skidding on the pavement on the way to the singletrack. I tried to get out of trouble and found myself in the top 15 or 20 overall heading into the singletrack and leading the women’s race. I was pretty stressed being in the lead that day, and halfway through the first lap I took the wrong fork in the trail but quickly saw the correct course markings, flipped it and got back on the right track. The course was marked VERY well. I didn’t look back for quite some time, I just kept going. I knew my first lap would be fast from my CX fitness and had a feeling I’d fade. I also knew Nina’s speciality is XC racing, so she’d be very strong for the first 20 miles or so. I started looking over my shoulder halfway through the first lap and saw Nina was only 1-1.5 minutes back. I tried not to think about it. Coming into lap 2, I grabbed a fresh bottle thinking I should stop for 2. BIG mistake. It was hot, and one lap was over 15 miles. It was also very windy!
I was blown. I figured Nina would be passing me any second. I tried to recover from my effort the first lap and eventually came back around, but was still not going as fast as I was. I had finished my water within the first 20 minutes of the lap and was dreaming of something cold to drink. I told myself to stop thinking about it. To my surprise, I looked back a few times and saw no one. I figured that maybe Nina had gone out as hard as I had! Going for the final lap, I pulled over and grabbed 2 bottles. I should have grabbed 3. Those were gone in 30 minutes. An unfortunate mechanical reared its ugly head. With 10 miles to go, I heard REEEEEEEET! My seatpost bolt had worked its way loose despite lock tight and torquing it the day before, and my seat pointed up about 30 degrees. The course was so fast that I didn’t want to stop to fix it. “Deal with it.” It was very uncomfortable and I was unable to ride the steep, punchy climbs. My CX practice came into play as I ran a bunch of them and hoped I didn’t lose any more time! I still thought I’d lose less time running the punchers rather than trying to fix it. It was so uncomfortable to sit that I stood as much as I could.
I looked back and once again saw nobody. I was so dehydrated that I was very dizzy. I tried to hold it together for the remainder of the final lap and crossed the line taking the win. I collapsed into a chair and immediately downed 2 big bottles of water. I had a horrible headache and my teeth hurt. I was thankful to Joey for the Advil. It took several minutes to pull myself together. I had thrown down a very solid effort finishing 50 miles of almost 100% singletrack in 3:48. I ended up taking the win by about 6 minutes. Nina has pushed me to ride my very best and I was thankful for that. I also ended up 12th overall in the men!
It was a great way to end the season and go out on top!!
Huge thanks to Team Kordestani and to Karie Mueller for a fantastic, organized event. I hope to make it back next year!
After the race, I hopped in the car and 5 hours later I made it to ABQ and was greeted with Mom’s homemade red chile chicken enchiladas. Heaven!