Friday, June 11, 2010

EFTA Big Ring Rumpus

Photo: Caroline Cardiasmenos

For those of you keeping track, this was race number 3 of my "not racing my MTB" year ;). Guess that was a giant fail! the good news is that it means I am having FUN racing my MTB this year.

Like some of my other [female] teammates, given that this race was pre-reg only, I knew going in that I was going to win, but was also going to finish DFL - it's all about perspective, right? I was still ready to go out and race, and decided to see where I would be against the rest of the Expert Women, across all of the fields. Most of them had been at Weeping Willow as well - another fast power course where I did reasonably well.

At the pre-race meeting we were told that the Auburn Fire Department was monitoring the weather. The forecast was for SEVERE weather at some point in the afternoon, and because we were running late, there might be a chance we would see it. If necessary, the promoters would pull us from the course for safety reasons. Other announcements were short so that they could line up the Elite/Expert fields, and get us underway. Only one teeny, tiny issue - 60+ racers were staged across the course, with sport racers still trying to finish their races! Every time a racer would come through, yells of "Racer Back" would make their way through the staged racers, the seas would part, the cheers would be loud, and the Sport racers ran the gamut. Likely intimidating for them, but great to see the cooperation of the other fields as well.

The Expert women took the line with the Master (50+) men. I knew about half of this field, and was both intimidated and confident about racing with them. On go, there was a good amount of jostling as racers 4 across attempted to get into a single line. The Junior woman took off like a rocket on the right side, while I hopped on the back of the Masters train as it left the station. Before going half a mile (but not before I got worried), the junior racer fell off, never to be seen again. And I ended up with my good friend Dave L, who came by me telling me that I had a good gap, and to sit in.

And so it went. Dave and I traded pulls every lap, seemingly through the same sections. It was so much easier to be WITH another racer, especially on this course. Who knew that drafting could play such an important role in a "mountain bike" course? At one point, I tried to jump on the wheel of a passing single speeder, but that didn't last long, and Dave and I were back together, counting laps.

After finishing 6 laps, we were both pretty excited to be going into the final lap of the race and also glad to still have all of our fingers attached to our hands (we were responsible for counting our own laps, and before the race Dave could be heard telling people the chewing off a finger a lap meant that when you were down to just thumbs, you were done!).

While cloudy, the rain had held off, but that was all about to change. Suddenly, the skies turned BLACK, and then opened. And it didn't just rain - it came down in SHEETS. Thunder was booming, lightning flashing, and marshalls were being pulled from the course. It was scary, and then got dangerous. Glasses on - couldn't see through the water and mud. Glasses off - couldn't see through the water and mud. Essentially, Dave and I were riding blind for the second part of the final lap. I later said that if he had ridden off the face of the Earth, I would have been right behind him. Thankfully the non-technical nature of the course helped us, and coming into the final chicane I ripped off my glasses, glad to have finished, and wanting desperately to get out of the storm!

Oh - and I guess I achieved my goal. Working with Dave, I never saw any of the other Expert women after the start until we were all huddled under the tent looking at results :).

1 comment:

Big Bikes said...

It was so important to have someone to ride with, not just physically, but mentally. I was seriously thinking of dropping out until Keith caught up with me.

Nice ride!