Last weekend, I lined up for my 4th Whiskey 50. It’s been wonderful to see the event grow from small (my first Whiskey 50 awards ceremony was held in the back of a bar, and I was just old enough to go IN the bar!) to massive. Todd Sadow and Epic Rides have turned a small, fun 50 miler to a world class event. The course is fantastic, very well marked, great aide station support, and stellar organization. I lined up and thought, “No. Mountain biking is not dead,” as spectators lined up all along the starting area at 8 AM and were along the course. I looked around me to see one of the most competitive fields I have EVER raced in. NoTubes kicked in the extra amount of cash needed to equalize the payout for the women’s field. They are taking responsibility and leading by example. Huge thanks to Stan, Cindy, and Shannon Gibson for leading the charge.
I knew while warming up that it was going to be trouble for the day. I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t feel snappy and alert. I was able to ride comfortably in the group at the start until the familiar road started pitching up. My goal was NOT to blow up at the start – something I had done every time I raced at that venue. I lost contact with the lead group… but I did not blow up. I was in a good position entering the singletrack, but had a really stupid crash washing out my front wheel going uphill. The person in front of me was on a 29er FS bike which allows for a little bit slower moves to get over the rocks vs. my 26 inch hardtail which required more power and precision to get over rock. I was trying to keep the momentum, but ended up going down in order not to slam into her. No big deal, I lost a few spots, but there were a train of girls were behind me.
I am not sure what happened to me mentally, but I gave up. I didn’t care. I am ashamed to say that I pulled to the side of the trail to let the train of girls behind me go by so I could ride alone. RIDE alone. I quit racing. Something that was also apparent in my Garmin file. My coach said, “What were you doing in the middle of the race?! You were riding in zone 2!!!” I was in no man’s land (errr, no woman’s land). I wasn’t angry or frustrated. I was oddly apathetic. I just wanted to ride my bike and I didn’t want to suffer. I felt emotionally tapped out and had no drive or motivation to chase anyone down. Weird. But I accepted it.
My parents were cheering me on! My mom is so cute. haha!
Once I hit the descent to Skull Valley and started to see other people, I woke up a little bit. I also saw how far back I had fallen in the field and was embarrassed. Once I hit the turn around to come back up the climb, I decided I should try harder. “What was I thinking earlier in the race?!” I cranked on the throttle and made up about 5 spots on the long dirt road climb in a little over an hour. I saw a group of 4-5 girls about 30 seconds in front of me up the road for the last few miles, but the weird apathetic feeling came back. I didn’t want to try to chase them down. WHY? In fact, it was some of the girls I had pulled aside for on the trail at the beginning of the race.
I rode the rolling singletrack back to town cautiously. I was riding really sloppy and my head felt foggy. My reaction times were abnormally slow. I didn’t want to flat or crash, so I backed off. “Who cares, I’m not in the top 10 anyway.” On the pavement back, I caught Suzie (luna) who had flatted earlier. I caught her because she had stopped to fix her flat earlier. Turns out quite a few people flatted, but chose to ride their flat tire into town to the finish. Suzie and I ended up duking it out on the pavement and ended with a sprint. That was probably the most exciting (and painful) part of my race.
I was feeling depressed when I crossed the finish line and worn out… not really physically as I got stronger the longer the race went on (the token endurance racer trait), but just tired of being on the road for so many weeks. I wanted to go home. I was also mad at myself for not trying my best.
It was wonderful to have my family there when I finished along with a lot of my friends. My dad brought some Marble beer from ABQ for me and Jeff delivered the Marble Red to the finish line for me (poor guy was holding it forever waiting for me).
It took me a couple hours to get out of my funk, but I turned my attitude around and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
Everyone has an off day, and I guess it’s okay every once in awhile. In the end, there were 8 of us within 3 minutes of each other. That frustrated me because I wish I would have tried harder earlier in the race. The trade show duathalon had gotten to me after booth set up and 4 days at the booth just a week before at Sea Otter followed by a 2 day drive and 3 days of the booth at Whiskey 50 leading right up to the race. I needed down time to recharge my batteries after weeks on the road and having to be on all the time, and that down time wasn’t available. I let myself be bummed about it for about an hour and a half, and then I forced myself to change my attitude. “There will be other races. Get over yourself.” … and my natural jovial self returned.
It was really great to see my friends and it was very very special to have my family there! HUGE thanks to Justin Mann and Chris Hanson for the bottle hands ups!
When I read what I wrote in this post, it sounds like a bunch of excuses. Even if I had my best day on the bike, I barely would have cracked the top 10. Must…get….faster…!
I got home on Tuesday and get to sleep in my own bed for another 1.5 weeks before I have to go to Texas for work and dealer tours in the DFW area. I did another race yesterday(and am relieved that my desire and competitive nature was back in full force). Report coming very soon!