After a week of the forecasts guaranteeing a warm dry weekend, but each day being 'surprised' with rain, I finally break down on Sat during the pre-ride to change my rear tire from my favorite Bontrager Revolt to the more aggressive Bontrager Jones AX (not a full mud tire but a fast rolling aggressive tire that works good in the mud). Come sunday, I am really happy I made that decision.
The start of the race we are sent up a long steep climb that switchbacks up the ski hill, definitely not my forte, being by far the tallest/biggest rider out there...enough said..hehe. It's about a 8-10 min climb, not a steady pitch, but with a lot of loose punchy sections that really take a lot of effort to clean. I manage a really good start, a lot better then I was really expecting, and found myself in very good company for the first lap. I knew it was a pace slightly above where I should be, so I back it off part way up the first climb once the pack spreads out slightly, and settle into my pace. However, due to the pitch of the climb, even staying in my easiest gear I find I am burning a little more of my match book then I would ideally like to, but that's racing.
Once you hit the top of the climb, the course sends you down an old four cross course (which last year we actually climbed up) with some sketchy doubles and slick berms. Lap 3 I go barreling a little too fast into one of the top berms...I can see it coming a mile away, but for some reason don't seem to be able to react appropriately, and find myself splayed out on the course with my bike 10 feet away....and 3 girls pass me....ugggg. Nothing hurts too bad, not very much blood either, I was really expecting more from that one, but it takes me a second to pick myself back up.
There isn't a lot of decending in this course considering how much we climb, which is a little disheartening....after 8 mins of climbing I expect something spectacular. The 2nd half of the lap is tough technical singletrack that traverses the ski hill out and back, with some pretty gnarly rock faces, made even more sketchy with the slick layer of mud. This is generally where I find myself making up most of my time on the svelt little climbers....RRRAAAAAAAHHHH...that's me powering through these sections. Although super fun, this doesn't allow for a lot of rest or recovery from the long climb.... yeah, this is a really physically challenging course.
Sunday wasn't a great day for me really, don't really have a good excuse. I found it hard mentally when I needed to slow down and let the girls that I usually find myself racing with pull away from me, I seemed to have my head stuck up my general area a little (that's what my mom would say). Getting pulled on the last lap wasn't a super good feeling either, but I had pushed really hard in the fourth lap to make up some time and a 5th lap would have been extremely slow and painful...though I do sadistically welcome that kind of pain. I like very much to believe that you learn the most from these kinds of races that don't go as well as planned.
And I consider us women very, very lucky that our race ended when it did. Although we had some rain during our race, it was nothing compared to the crazy downpour the poor men had to warm-up and race in.....I didn't even want to ride back to the hotel in it...yuck.
Spending a couple of days in Ellicottville, New York now with Trek Toronto's Barry Near doing some riding and relaxing and team bonding. Home late Wednesday evening to unpack and repack...leave on Saturday for the Transrockies...yippeeeeee. Busy buy loving it.