I heard the rain hitting the skylight in the night, and inwardly groaned – ANOTHER race in the rain, cold and mud. After a season of 7 MTB races in the same conditions, my motivation for the first day of Gloucester – a race I look forward to all year, was gone. A pre-ride of the course confirmed that the race would be slick and VERY muddy. I retreated to the trainer, and actually managed to get warmed up – until we went to stage. The wind off the ocean, the sideways rain, and the cool temps negated everything I had just done. I shivered with teeth chattering until it was time for us to start.
The one heartening thing pre-race? I was FAR from alone. Seventy-five women took the line in monsoon-like conditions. Guess we were all a bit crazy. It is really incredible, though, to see that many women racing. Where were they all during the road and MTB seasons????
I did have a good start to the race, leading the pack about halfway up the hill. Most of the rest of the race is a blur to me – a lot of sideways sliding, more running than I care for, and a lot of thinking about being finished. I did actually pit my bike after a lap and a half – that was good practice for me, and also illustrated how differently my two bikes handled in the conditions. After finishing up, I changed into dry clothes, proceeded to work the pits for Mike’s race, and was soaked through again. It wasn’t until much later in the evening that I felt warm, and dry!
Mike had an AWESOME day on the bike! Watching from the pits, I couldn't see how he was managing in the technical sections of the course, but he finished the day in 10th place in the Masters 1/2/3 35+ field, so he CLEARLY was riding those sections, and everything else, well!
My motivation came back on Sunday. The weather was improving, temps were rising, and the slippery, muddy conditions were tacking up and improving. The big challenge was figuring out the course – most of us couldn’t make heads or tails of which way it went!
I chose NOT to pre-ride the course, but instead, to sit on the trainer to get warmed up. I knew that once the race started, as long as I followed tape, I would find the course and be ok ;). Sunday was more about power, but there were also a lot of turns, which I have been practicing. Got another good start, but was worried when I heard that a rider had gone down. Couldn’t look back to see if everyone was ok though – head was down sprinting for the hole shot. I ended up onto the grass about 3rd wheel, and rode a reasonably clean race. Mike’s advice on not shouldering the bike in the chicanes was good, and let me use the bike as a pivot point to get around those tight corners while running. I was able to ride into the barrier section pretty well, also, and not lose any time there. I felt much better on Sunday, and was slightly upset at losing 3 places in the final turns of the course – and losing the final sprint to my nemesis, Karen T.
The great news for me? I had a better second day at Gloucester than the first, which hasn’t happened since I started racing at that venue! I also didn’t crash at Gloucester this year – another first and a bit of a surprise given the conditions.
Mike had another good day on the bike, and released me from pit duty so I could go out and capture some photos of his race too:
We ended up spending most of the day after we were both done racing, hanging with friends and partaking in the beer tent. It was a great way to celebrate another "epic" weekend of racing!