Sob, snifffff, sob.....yeah, I'm a little sad. After racing a well planned and well executed race, and sitting in a very good and comfortable spot just 10 minutes from the finish...I have my first race flat in what...ever. I think I deserve to be a little sad.
50 m from the start, the xc course moves to unpassable single track for about 5 minutes, so the start is extremely crucial in this race. Katerina Nash goes down hard, not sure if she buzzed someones wheel, or just slipped out on the pea gravel, but it doesn't look pretty. I manage a safe, good start and find myself in top 8, sitting right behind fellow Canadian Emily Batty. There is a small group with Gerogia, Willow, Heather and Lea just ahead. On the first open climb, I punch it a little to bridge up to the leaders, and when I make contact, they've lost Gerogia's wheel...which is the last time anyone sees her for the rest of the race.
Now, I'm sitting in a train of about 7 girls, and all you can do is be patient with killer cactus's lining both sides of the course. Rounding a sweeping corner, I feel both of my wheels let loose and my bike washes out from under me..uggh. I think that I managed to bounce up at the same speed I feel down and somehow catch back onto the end of the train. Just a little skinned shin from that one, not bad, but missing skin burns a little.
Coming out of the single track to finish the first long lap (almost 40 minutes) and I feel the pace just slow right down. Katerina, who had gone down in the first 50 m, had powered back witih an incredible ride and was now out ahead of the train by about 30 m, with no one looking to close. On my left, I see someones wheel trying to push through, and so I figure, might as well and I start pushing hard too. I'm able to bridge the gap back to her wheel and drag two other girls by the time we hit the feed zone.
Now in a group of about 4 girls, we're hammering through the field, and we slowly pick off riders left right and center. Some join onto the group, others shoot off the back. With ten minutes left in the race, I find myself in the 2nd to 5th place group, with about a minute gap on the next group of Kelly Emmit and Willow Kroeber (who later flatted once she passed me in the ditch), with Katerina, Catherine Pendrel, Dellys Star (Australian National Champ) and myself, and I'm feeling really good. Cresting the last long climb (long for the course), I'm sitting behind Dellys who is slowing down fast, so I move to go around her on branch of the path moving into fourth. Then....................flat. It happened so fast, and of course I swore a little. I hope off my bike and shoot my CO2 in the tire, it seals up, but as soon as I sit on the bike again, it blows. Checking quickly, I've got about a 1cm ugly gash right in the top of my tire. Putting in my tube, I'm passed by about 10-15 girls, with everyone saying..."Oh, I'm sorry". When I get the tube in, there's not much CO2 left in the cartridge so I can't even pump my tire up enough to ride in, so I start running, and slowly more girls start passing me. 50 m up the trial in a realy rough section I find the ground littered with CO2 and manage to squeeze enough out to limp my way back in. Rounding the corner I see that Catherine has suffered the same fate as me, with the same CO2 problems. We go from 2 in the top 5 to 1 in the top 10. I think I heard that about 5 or 6 of the Canadian women suffered flats this race....who's sabatoging us!!!
Finish in 24th position in the xc and 11th overall in the GC for the weekend. The day before was the short track, which was extremely painful with lots of false flats and a steep, loose run up. I managed a 9th places there.
Oh well....it's part of the game. Hopefully I've gotten all of my crashes and flats out of the way before I go to Europe. But hey, I felt awesome during the race, so all in all, I'm super happy with the two weeks of racing down south. Plus I got a little bit of a tan (SPF 45 keeps you a little white, but I'm okay with that).
Heading home today, back to school for a week. Then I fly over to Switzerland on the 14th of April. Oh yeah, huge thanks to the Trek guys for upgrading my bike to XTR this past weekend, I forgot how nice that stuff is.
Happy trails :)