Last weekend was a wonderful weekend OFF from racing (and as it turned out, basically off from riding in general!) French Creek being postponed was quite welcome after racing for the four preceding weeks. Sadly it’s rescheduled to a weekend that I have a different race in the plan but that’s this year. Seems it’s the year of conflicts.
The weekend off also happened to be Mother’s Day and I got a killer surprise :) Yea, I hear you now. No we don’t have any two footer’s (thankfully!) but we do have our Furry Babies as a friend refers to them as. They are our kids and they got me a gift!!
So that’s only our youngest but he’s the staved for attention type so he got center stage. A few more mod’s still to come for the bike. Heck since I'm not getting a 29er just yet I might as well dress up the old girl! I refer to her as pinky now.
So the season of racing has begun and I’ve had a mix of both good and not so good experiences. I feel I’ve got my mind oriented correctly somehow and I'm really looking forward to the whole year. My goals for this season have kinda come together for me throughout the last month.
But first, the prior four weekends of racing:
Weekend one was the 6 Hours on the Greenway in Ft. Mill, SC, a race right near our friends in Charlotte, NC so gave us an excuse to go ride some and see them. Not to mention slightly warmer weather at that point. But I’ve never felt so lethargic starting a race, no energy or motivation. I watched all the “competitors” pull away with-in the first lap, not that this is necessarily new for me but usually I feel like I’m pushing at least a little as they walk away but this day I felt nothing. This race got summed up as I got to ride my bikes for six hours in the sunshine while in was misty rainy and cold back at home. Had a good time seeing our friends, and sadly seeing one of our furry friends for the last time.
The next weekend brought the Baker’s Dozen, a 13 hour at Leesburg, VA. One that I had been hyped to do for a year. We weren’t able to last year and I had been bummed about it ever since. Granted, after racing the SnotCycle on this same course, my enthusiasm had fizzled a little. I didn’t have a good race that day and had a little more hesitation than I normally would approaching an endurance event. But the day came, brought beautiful weather and a chance to hang with some other friends. I rode 10 or 11 laps (the results say 10 but the timing on one of my laps makes me wonder if they missed a lap – I don’t keep count and it doesn’t really matter except I feel better having ridden 77 miles verses 70). At the 12hrs 30min mark I was debating completing another lap but chose not to, I lose motivation when I’m already last or close to it. I should have in hindsight, I know better. I wouldn’t have made top 3 but would have been officially 5th out of 9 with 11 laps verses 8 out of 9 with my 10 laps. I’d feel a little better about my day, that’s all. I had fun, good ride, good course but I continued with a lackluster performance.
I have to thank FatMarc and his crew for bringing some smiles to my face during the day. Not only did they have the largest pit area of anyone, they brought me to laughter on more than a few occasions. FatMarc and his “incoming” comment as he was getting ready to me pass one of his many times. Incoming? Really, are we at war? Okay, maybe we were. But then one of his friends, of which I forget her name as well, passes me and say’s “great job friend of FatMarc, keep it going!” It was a good day in all.
Greenbrier, the place of my first “felt like I was racing” experience last year. My memories had it as a blast of a course, actually rocky and a place you really do need a mountain bike. In other words, fun! But what I didn’t remember was the climbing there, I only recalled the one at the start which is barely a climb. That's me looking a little too relaxed!
The day was hot, and feeling it hanging around before the start let me know I might be in for it with my tendency to overheat, even though I do love the heat. Yea, I’ve been called odd on more than one occasion. The race started and at the first little climb my quads felt like rocks. I begin to lecture myself “I’ve gotta start warming up more, this sucks”. The field pulls away. After the first descent and rocky section I bring the competitors back in sight so when the climb begins I push to try to maintain my gap verses losing ground. Sometime during this climb I begin feeling the heat, especially when we get to more exposed areas. Drinking from my camelbak isn’t sounding good. I remind myself I want to finish this race and back it off a bit. But apparently the heat had already gotten to me and I started getting sick. Once on a climb and the second time actually descending on a rock section. As I finish my first lap I just want cold water.
Hubby had been kind enough to venture to my race on his return from completing the Choutta 100 miler in the scorching heat the day before. I was looking forward to seeing him but I didn’t know he’d also save my day!
As I come through on my lap he’s there with a bottle full of Ice Cold Water. It was the best I had ever had. I grab it and go, drinking some and pouring some on my mellon. It made all the difference. My sickness was gone, I could feel almost normal on my bike. I was out of “competition” but I felt better. So on a day when many others didn’t finish, I did and that got me a third place. I wasn’t upset at all about the day. I left thinking it is a great course, glad I went and I pushed to what I was capable of on that day.
Kenda Cup Race #1 - which happened to be at the same location hubby’s Choutta started the weekend before. He was kind enough to be driving again! This time he had company with me and a teammate and friend, Janel joining for the journey. The forecast had been rain and rain there was! We arrived mid-day on Saturday to start our pre-ride, while it was raining. The course was phenomenal! Well after the three miles of climbing that is.. when you flowed into three miles of singletrack joy and ended with a three mile downhill (somehow 11 miles total). This ride ranks with one of the best, I loved it. The course was good, nothing like out west or anything but just riding singletrack and a fun downhill while it was pouring raining, it was a blast! I even took my time near the top to enjoy some of the views.
Race morning they announced they’d be shortening our laps and that meant the three miles of fun singletrack in the middle would be gone. So three miles up, three miles down with a little other stuff here and there. But the conditions were expected to be getting even worse and lap times would be longer. The rain had stopped by the start, exactly what I didn’t want. Once the rain stops and a race starts, the mud begins. Most of it was actually pretty good, just a few slimy parts and it really had to be one of the best race courses to handle bad weather I’ve ever seen. I fell out of contention near the start of this race, on the nice steady not steep three mile climb. Towards the end of the first lap I reeled in one girl and sadly caught her right AFTER the fun narrow downhill began. Granted we had a long while of gravel road downhill I should have caught her on before, but after my gravel crash and slide at Quantico last year I ride gravel way too timid. And she wouldn’t let me pass even though I assured her she would pass me again right after the downhill. I know, it’s my job to pass her and it is a race and all. But I just wanted to have fun on my downhill and couldn’t. I became bummed and moseyed my way through my second lap. Short story- I had a good ride, not a good race. Mental got me more than my physical I do believe. Didn’t matter, I was very glad to have come and I knew my goal here was to finish, period. And I did. Plus hubby and Janel both had great results and besides having to do the whole drive back Sunday night we had fun.
The year ahead… plans/goals for this year, I have three and they’re all staged towards the end of the season. Starts out early Sept with completing the Shenandoah 100, I did say completing – not competing in. Key point there. Followed up by the Kenda Cup finals in Vegas, I do want to compete here. Granted I am not expecting to win, they’ll be at least a few women that are Cat 1 caliper and although I’d love to race at their pace my true goal is to be competitive and try to be upper pack to a podium. The finale is in Mid-October by completing the Pisgah Stage Race, 4 days but the first day is only 6 miles – it goes up from there. And by up I mean 38,000+ feet of climbing. We have at least 6 team members doing it plus another 2 folks we know. It should be a great time, great challenge and yea I know I have some training to do.