Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's All About the Hole Shot

So, I decided after last year not to race my MTB this season. I had had my fill of muddy, wet, nasty slogs on tough trails. It was with reluctance, therefore, that I ended up at Winding Trails, and paid my money to line up to race this past weekend. My coach told me I needed the intensity of the workout, and since HE was racing, I might as well ;) The weather was a far cry from last year's 90 degree temps, as we stood, shivering, waiting for our turn to get out on the course.

On the start last year, I got a bad line through the soft sand, and had to work to try to make up places as a result. I KNEW I needed to get the hole shot (how long have I been racing, and this is just now sinking in?!?!?!). On the whistle, I put my head down, headed left and completely avoided the sand. One woman ended up in front of me, but with dual lines up the first incline, I took the left, might have cut her a bit in the corner, and ended up with the hole shot around the first corner.

That meant I got to be first over the double logs, and first down the steep downhill. But I could still hear the other racer close behind. About halfway through the first lap, she passed me, and I realized that she was in the younger category. I still worked to stay with her as long as possible, and kept her in sight for most of the first lap, and then, never saw her again.

Coming into the new climb at the finish, I had some trepidation. On the pre-ride, I hadn't been able to make it up the hill. Mike and I talked about it, and he said it might be faster to just get off and run up the hill during the race. But as I approached on the first lap, there were seemingly hundreds of people standing in that spot, and there was NO WAY I was getting off my bike. Into the granny gear I went, and grunted my way up (success!). I was psyched to be able to make this each of the 4 laps.

The rest of the race was reasonably uneventful. I never saw another woman the entire race. Did get passed by many of the men, and worked to stay with them as long as possible (which usually wasn't long). I had a BLAST on the course this year, working the tight twisty trails, [seemingly] floating over the rooty sections, carrying speed in the turns, and generally feeling the flow of the trail. Mike had shown me all the good lines in the pre-ride, and that certainly helped get me through the course.

I crossed the line with no gas left in the tank - just the way it should have been. I was so happy to be done, it took quite awhile for me to realize that a significant amount of time had passed, and there STILL weren't any of the women in my race coming across the line. Turned out that despite running scared the entire race, I had a fairly significant gap on the next competitor. Guess the reluctance paid off. And no, I am not doing more MTB racing this season ;)


claudia said...

Awesome first place finish! And your post made me feel like I was right there with you -- without the exertion.


Jonny Bold said...

Nice job Cathy. You deserve this.

Christine said...

Sometimes the dreaded races turn out to be the best ones :-) Congrats on the W!!