Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Coyote Hill

Mike and I first raced Coyote Hill back in the late 90s - the first year Tom ran this race. The trail then was all fresh cut singletrack - loamy, power-sucking trail with small pungee sticks everywhere. And the fields were freshly mowed, making the course, as I remember it (I was a beginner back then), incredibly difficult. The singletrack is worn in now, but the course is still technically challenging.

My race day started auspiciously - I got up to close a window when I heard the rain hitting the skylight. Unfortunately, while I was awake, my foot was still sleeping, and when I put my weight on it, it went out from under me pretty hard. It would only be later that I realized I had sprained it... Racing on a sprained ankle in the mud, uphill on slippery roots is ok, right? ;)

Outside of that, the race for me can be described in three parts - the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good: I drank THREE bottles and ate my Clif Bloks during the race! Woohoo. The pre-ride showed me that the ONLY Place I was going to be able to do this was on the uphill start, the grassy area near the start/finish and one teeny section of double-track. I took advantage of all three places! I also had a great start, despite lining up in the back and trying not to go out too hard, or near the front of the pack...

The bad: The course was tough and technically challenging. It was raining when we arrived, making the roots slippery, and some sections really muddy. I watched racers crashing on rocks, on roots and in giant mud puddles where logs were buried so you couldn't see them. I hit a tree - twice. I ended up scraped, bruised and generally sore. The course required you to be "on" the entire time... Also, doing an entire lap of the course prior to the race was a BAD choice. I didn't have much time between that and the race start (which, thank goodness, ended up delayed by 15 mins).

The ugly: Lap times went downhill fast. I had a good first lap, riding with Alex J from IBC. We went back and forth - she would crash and I would get by, only to have her pass me (or ask nicely to get by) on some downhill sections (where I reminded her that I had become more cautious given that I had a mortgage to pay!). I lost Alex in the second lap where I technically rode better, but with lapping traffic, had to literally stop to get out of the way on occasion. The second lap for me was six minutes slower than the first, which I attributed to all of the traffic (and to having to coach Colin through his cramping episode). By the third lap (which was really my fourth), I was tired (DUH!), and started making mistakes. Slipping here, sliding there, dabbing where I shouldn't have needed to. I got angry with myself and started yelling out loud (good thing no one was around 'cause they would have thought I was crazy!). My final lap was even LONGER, bringing my total race time for about 15 miles to 2:41 - too slow.

Learnings: a full lap pre-ride isn't a great idea on a technical course. Don't let the person you are riding with get away after 1 lap. Colin can recover after dropping to the ground and writhing in agony. And the trees will always win ;)


Alex said...

Sometimes, you beat the trees. It just depends how big they are. I have lots of expertise in this area...

I definitely agree with you about the having to be "on" the entire race, except for that hellish climb in the beginning which happens to be the only place to eat/drink. But thats what makes it fun, right? =)

Big Bikes said...

You know you raced the living hell out of your bike when you can't get your foot out of the pedal at the end of the race.

You are one tough lady!