This post is for Dave B., who kindly pointed out to me at the Landmine race yesterday that my blog updates have been sadly lacking. As I said to Dave, with the summer I have had, I haven't much felt like blogging... But, it's a new season, and time to get back to it!
Yesterday was the official end of the MTB race season for me. It's been long, wet, muddy and frustrating to say the least. It seemed that every race we had was proceeded by rain, or it rained WHILE we were racing. The exception to that, of course, was the sunny, 90 degree Winding Trails race in April - still a weather challenge! Of course, yesterday's race couldn't be an exception - torrential rains on Saturday made for some swimingly good conditions to race in on Sunday...
At the pre-race meeting, they told us that it was slippery out there, and to be careful. Essentially, the bridges were slick as snot and ended up claiming more than one victim (Mike said he ended up wiped out on the last bridge in the race). In other places, we literally rode down rivers, or through puddles that we hoped didn't contain wheel-sucking holes in the middle (at least one did). I swore when I was through I was going to just throw my kit in the trash...
At the whistle, I fell in behind the two Pro racers, and the one woman in the 19-34 class, putting me 4th overall, but leading my class of 4 women. I tried to hang onto the fast women as long as I could, but their technical skills soon bested me, and they were out of sight. The good news for me was that the remainder of the women were out of MY sight, which made me keep pushing to stay ahead.
The sport men soon started coming by. While many of these guys are actually pretty savvy and nice when over-taking, many also are not! I had a few who tried to pass in very technical sections with no clear line, or approaching some of those slick-as-snot one-lane bridges. While I did my best to get out of the way WHEN I could, I also knew that I needed to stay on the gas as my competitors were still behind me.
As I passed through the first feed zone, I got a look behind and saw one of the other women coming up on me. I worked hard to stay ahead, and managed to hold the lead in my race until mile 8. At that point, I made a technical error, Mary got ahead, and then I fell into the trap of watching her instead of where I was going, causing more errors. In another technical section, I dropped my chain, and watched the other 2 women pass by with a flurry of men as I got it back on, and looked for a break in the traffic to get back on with the race.
I managed to catch 3rd place again by mile 9, but once things got more technical, I lost her for good. It was actually awesome to watch Rachael ride away from me, as she did it on a section where many of the men were walking ;). From there, I fell into a good pace for me, trying to achieve other goals in the race - riding more than last year, not getting passed by certain friends in the Sport race, taking time off my race time from the previous year, and to have fun.
Somewhere this season, racing my MTB stopped being fun for me. So yesterday, I decided to have FUN (and still race). The conditions were pretty harsh, but when I crossed the line, I was happy - despite being DFL - because I had had fun on my ride. There was no crying, not much swearing, and I took 16 minutes off of my race time from last year. It's all about perspective, and I had lost that. It was good for me, then, to finish such a lackluster (from my perspective) season on a good note.
I ended up with 8 races in the Root 66 series, as well as 1 EFTA "race". Having been the only woman to show up at a couple of the races in my category means that I win the overall series for the Cat 1 35+ women - more a testament to my attendance than my results, but with all of the bad weather and lack of motivation I have had, I'll take it ;).
Oh - and a big shout out to our friend Kevin H. Yesterday, Kevin bested the times of ALL the other riders in the 25 mile cross-country race by 6 minutes to win the GT Golden Bike! Congrats, Kevin!