I was a lot more excited to tackle a 43 mile day on the mountain bike for stage 1! The course preview boasted tons of rocky, FUN singletrack, a couple decent sized climbs, and gravel roads connecting it all.
We have such a great group here at TSE. After a 30 minute warmup, I was once again haunted by burning legs when they should not be burning. I shrugged it off and lined up.
The start was a nice, neutral roll-out followed by some road climbing and descending. I did my best to stay with the group, but once again – no power. That is how the first 3 hours went today… no power. I felt like I did in Syllamo minus the puking. There were times where I felt like I could fall asleep on my bike! Despite my body retaliating against me, I had a fantastic time today. The singletrack sections were muddy and rocky, but the rocks were not as big as I was expecting. It was almost all rideable and I did not have too much trouble with it – I was just slow!
The big win for me today was that despite riding below my potential, being tired and slow, I had a great time. I was frustrated for maybe half a second. In the past, I’ve been frustrated when I’m not feeling great on the bike. A bad attitude can ruin everything. Today, I was positive the whole race and had a genuinely good time. I was able to look around at the green gorgeous surroundings, there were cool people on the trail, and it was not stressful. I have been learning to keep my head up. Yesterday in the prologue, I missed a turn. Today, I made a right where the sign said to make a right. However, there was a right just AFTER the sign which I took. Fortunately after about a mile, it looped back to where I started and I realized what I had done. I lost some time, but no major harm done!
I was kicking myself for not carrying my camera! If I couldn’t “race,” I could have at least been taking photos of all the beautiful Pennsylvania scenery.
The kicker today? The HEAT!!!! Oh man, it was 93 or 94 degrees and HUMID. There were times I felt like vomiting from the heat. I actually employed a technique we use in yoga to cool the body temperature down – lions breath. Stick your tongue out and exhale forcefully. I probably looked crazy, but I used that technique and it seemed to help. I was eating Elete tablets and drinking massive amounts of water and PowerBar Endurance. I stopped at every aide station and left with full bottles and a full stomach of water. I would chug a full bottle of water and dump water on my head.
My time today was something like 4hr 25 min and in that time, I drank close to 240 oz of water. I peed about 30 minutes after I finished. I did not get dehydrated except for one section where I ran out of water. I was very happy with my fueling and hydration today.
We have designated drop bags and the volunteers did a great job helping me get what I needed out of my bag each time I stopped. The aide stations had lots of good stuff too.
Even though I was tired, I had no problem riding the technical trail. I was surprised with my confidence, but there are a few trails in Colorado that helped me. The Sourdough Trail above Ward, CO is very similar to PA riding. There are downed logs and tons of rocks.
It’s funny, in Colorado, a downed tree normally is a block on the trail indicating the trail is closed, or that you should turn. Here? A downed tree is just another obstacle. My technical skills are not holding me back – it’s simply the lack of ability to turn the pedals. The stage was muddy once again with some fun creek crossing, challenging climbs, rock gardens, steep and rocky descents… you name it!
In my clinics, I tell people that momentum is your friend. I did crash once today, but it was because I lost momentum and was too stubborn to dismount. The faster you come into the rock garden (and find places to pedal), the more likely you’ll make it out. On the descents, I forced myself to keep my fingers off the brakes and it helped. Staying loose in your body is also very important.
3 hours in, the looney effect happened – the switch flipped and I felt strong again on my bike. I hate this. I was able to push hard again and my heart rate jumped about 20bpm as well as my speed picking up by about 2 mph. I pushed that pace to the finish, but it was far too late to make up any places. I needed about 40 miles in the race!! I am making it a top priority to figure out why this happens. It’s been going on sporadically for years and I’m tired of being out of contention for races because it takes me 3 hours to warm up.
I think I ended up around 7th again today(again, not a surprise based on how my race went) but I had a great time and I wanted to keep riding after I finished! It’s weird not to be contending for the podium. I know why I am tired and I wish I showed up rested with my A-game. It’s also nice in a way because it’s not as stressful during the race.
There are 5 days to go. ANYTHING can happen. My goal right now is the same as it was when I signed up for this race. Get some great training(followed by a big rest block) , experience what PA singletrack has to offer, have a GREAT time riding out here, meet some new people, and do my best.
Stage 2 video. Click photo and it’ll take you to the video.
I will not get discouraged, nor will I give up. I can’t wait to ride my bike AGAIN tomorrow!