Not a great finish, but a finish, which is an improvement over my experience at Horning’s Hustle.
Well it’s certainly springtime. And spring weather means … anything goes. Last Sunday the weather was fantastic, and the trails were dry. This morning we woke up to snow; snow on the ground, snow covering the car, and snow continuing to fall. I thought it was very pretty. And since I’d already packed my heaviest tights, my Lake mountain bike boots, and foot warmers … I was down with the snow. I was a little excited about it, actually.
But as excited as I was about getting out and riding in the snow, my body was struggling with the idea of just getting out of bed. Naturally we’d choose today to be in disagreement. My back was completely locked up, and I could barely sit up straight enough to reach my shins. So I took a bunch of Ibuprofen, put an Icy-Hot patch on my back, and told my body that was all the baby-ing it was gonna get, and it had better straighten up. Naturally I plan to let Gregg do all the heavy lifting, but when I get on the bike I need my body to perform!
Quick breakfast, check; knee taped, check; anti-inflammatory and Icy-Hot patch, check; post-race PBJ, check; quick check of the bike cube I packed last night, and I’m ready to go. Grab a cup of coffee on the way out the door, and we’re on our way.
It’s always exciting to see other bike-laden vehicles going your way. We passed a few on the highway, and by the time we were parked at the race there were bikes all over the place. Naturally Gregg recognized about half the people there, but by now I’m recognizing a few of them too!
Today was Amber’s turn to race while dad watched the kids. And her daughter got to use the bike during the kid race while her brother sat this one out. They’re still fighting over who gets which races, but the whole family takes turns and it seems to work out pretty well for everybody.
For this race, Melissa traded in her ‘cross bike for her sisters FS mountain bike. She didn’t need a FS bike for this race, and the fatter tires probably didn’t give her a significant advantage, but the disc brakes were destined to be a distinct advantage! I love seeing my friends out there!
We didn’t arrive early enough, and I didn’t use my time well, so I didn’t get enough warm-up. So I knew I’d have a bit of a painful ‘warm-up’ during the first climb in the race. The race has a ‘rolling start’ … everybody leaves from the finish line and rides together a couple of miles down the road to the start line. Riders are then sent off in staggered starts from the start line. The rolling start was fun. Everybody’s excited, anxious for the start, but not racing yet. It’s a pretty relaxed pace, but very high energy and with a feeling of camaraderie. Just fun!
The sport women all started out together. There’s a teeny weeny climb right at the beginning, and I was already feeling the insufficient warm-up time. But I knew I’d need to ease into the big climb, so I tried to keep my HR low enough that I could finish the climb. The stair-step was still a nightmare. But I was able to keep spinning my legs. I passed quite a few people who were walking up the climb. Before I reached the top of that final climb my HR had peaked at 197 (I didn’t even know I could do that anymore!), and my whole body was feeling the pain. Somewhere out there, there’s a photo of me actually riding the last bit of climb. Evidence that I made it! A small victory in the scheme of things, but I’ll take it.
I’m glad I’d had a chance to pre-ride the course. It was totally painful anyway, and most of the singletrack was completely unrideable for me. In fact I could have saved myself a bit of time if I’d given up earlier and started running the singletrack. Sadly, the only advantage I might have over my peers would be a few more miles of technical riding under my belt. And since the singletrack descents were all too muddy to be rideable for me (especially that last section of newly cut trail), my limited experience didn’t give me any kind of advantage today.
And since I have the fitness base of a cubicle jockey, instead the base of a cyclist, or any other kind of athlete, I was lagging toward the back. A couple of years of fair weather, weekend warrior mountain biking hasn’t exactly whipped me into shape. Melissa just flies by me on the climbs! She’s amazing! If she can get a bit of singletrack experience under her belt she’ll be winning our category. Me, I’m totally outclassed by these women. But I like being surrounded by people who inspire me, so taking position at the bottom of that class of women is still a great place to be. And it certainly gives me something to work toward!
By the end of the single-track, my legs were DEAD, DEAD, DEAD. And I was just physically exhausted. I couldn't keep my HR down, and I was sure I was going to throw up. I was questioning whether or not I was even going to be able to make it up that last little road climb when I saw Gregg at the top of the hill. Gregg was still flying high from his win
... all that excitement sometimes causes his brain to shut off. So as we met up, and I was struggling to stay upright, Gregg started chattering like a poodle. I caught something along the lines of "where have you been? I was starting to get worried about you." Where do you think I was?! If I'd had any energy at all I'd have smacked him upside the back of his head. Smart ass! I actually finished quicker than I told him I would by about 10 minutes.
In my opinion, we both did great. He did great enough to win his category! I did great enough to finish in my category :)