Well, here went nothing! My first mountain bike race! I was super nervous, and completely psyched myself up to placing dead last… Dead last as in the last one off the trails, hours after the start. I was fine if that was to happen.
I focused on hydrating well throughout the day. I wasn’t going to race wearing my enormous Camelback backpack (I seriously need to get a smaller one…), and knew I wouldn’t have time to really fiddle with my bottle cage, so I prepared ahead of time. I had a light breakfast of cereal, macaroni salad for lunch (it’s my unfortunate weakness), Oikos yogurt, and then a PB&J about 30 minutes before I headed up to the race.
Pulling into the trailhead I wanted to puke when I saw all the other racers. I was nervous, alone, and felt out of place. I got my bike off the car, and set off to register. Paid my $5 and got my number place. #524, okay, I can live with that… some people were friendly. I cheerfully told many I planned on finishing last, which confused a lot of people. Turns out the “leader jersey” for this race series is a squeaky horn, just like Mr. Penguin so people were assuming I was leading my class already! Whoops! (I refuse to take off Mr. Penguin, though… it’s not like I’m cheating in any way by having him!)
The Sheriff’s office was out ticketing like crazy for parking, so I rushed to fill out a form for Matt for when he got there (he was just photographing… racing is not his thing!). Because of all of this craziness, I didn’t have a time to eat some Shot Bloks, which I intended to do. I shoved a pack in my jersey’s back pocket along with my phone. Before I knew it we were lining up and were off!
My friend and I immediately jumped out in the lead, for whatever stupid reason, because when the first climb came I got my butt kicked.
My lungs burned, legs burned. Soon I was on Meadow for a descent. Unfortunately, I was stuck on the singletrack behind another racer that wasn’t carrying the momentum that I was. Then the climbs. I shifted into the granny gears and just pedaled. The faster racers passed, and I was fine. I even made a few passes, which put a smile on my face! Finally in Upper UW the trail turned to the descent, and that’s where I felt my speed increase. I was finally able to get around one of the racers that was holding me up and I just flew! Smile on my face! Few more climbs, but they were as bad as I could carry momentum. Got to Pole Creek, and powered up the climb to the Campground Bypass. I was feeling accomplished. I flew past Matt, giving him my “death smile” (I’m happy, but I’m dying!) Up through the parking lot, and heard some cheering on which felt good. Told the first aid station “I feel like I’m dying” on my way past. First lap done! Was sitting in 3rd place (I obviously didn’t know that until afterwards) with a time of 22:20 minutes.
Second lap was on! I grabbed some sips before the climb. By then my legs were numb and just powering through the motions steadily. Passed one of the male racers, and found myself along on the trails, just the noise of my breathing and bike switching gears. I felt damn good, and couldn’t help but to smile. Then it started to go wrong… I got mildly confused and thought I got off the course so I paused until that male racer I passed came along to confirm I was on the right trail. Then… well, I ate gravel at 20mph at the bottom of a hill. *sigh* I can’t say what really went wrong, except I think I panic braked, and the rear end got wonky. I went over the handle bars, smashing my head and the left side of my body. I pulled myself over to the side and sat there in disbelief while two of the girls in my category rode past. One guy stopped to check on me, which I greatly appreciate! (Thanks random guy!!!)
I got on my bike and continued on. I won’t lie, I was feeling a bit dazed and wonky. I lost a lot of my mojo but powered on, and was super cautious on the rest of the descents. I came through the Bypass again, with Matt cheering me on, to which I screamed “Don’t you see all the blood?! I think I have a concussion!” Powered up to the parking lot, where another girl was cheering me on to the effects of “Good job… oh… holy sh!t, are you alright?” And finally the finish!
48:22 minutes for the 6-6.5 mile course (my runtastic app malfunctioned on me and only got the first lap successfully saved… otherwise it was saying I was going 38mph in a straight line through the trees… hmmm. So not sure of actual distance).
I rode over to my friend, who finished 10 minutes earlier. He noticed the blood and his eyes got all huge. Matt emerged from the trees and rushed over to see how I was. Honestly, I was in great spirits! I finished my first race, my legs didn’t hurt at all (minus where there was missing skin…), and I still finished ahead of two others in my class. Not bad for my first mountain bike race! A month ago I could barely ride the smallest of climbs on the Meadow Trail without stopping, and here I was… I made them all without stopping, yelling curse words, or chugging copious amounts of water!
We enjoyed some delicious elk burgers cooked up by Dewey from the Pedal House. I had no appetite, so it took me nearly 2 hours to eat one burger, which I’m sure looked strange to everyone else. I chatted with a high school classmate, who races in the Open class. He crashed, too, so at least I wasn’t alone! Always nice to see people, especially after 10 years! They announced the top 3 in each class, drew some raffle prizes, and we then set out for home about 9pm.
I got home and checked the results. Dammit, I could’ve placed 2nd if I didn’t crash and continued riding smoothly! Definitely 3rd without the crash… DAMMIT! But I still got all giddy seeing that I placed 4th in the Beginner’s Women class, and even beat out 3 of the men in their beginner class. Here I was expecting to take hours, and finishing dead last and I actually put forth a really respectable effort! I felt damn accomplished!
I was expecting to be extremely sore today, but I was proved wrong. My skinned knee and elbow hurt the worse, especially when I leave them in one position too long. My left hip (lovehandle area, LOL) is sore. I just now noticed that my left collarbone aches a bit. My chin has a “rug burn” type cut on it from my helmet, and swelled a bit, which looks mighty attractive, if I do say so myself! But other than that, nothing unbearable! My tumble at Curt Gowdy a few weeks ago left me in way worse shape. I do not have any muscle soreness in my legs, which is nice (maybe it means I didn’t pedal hard enough…)
Needless to say, I CANNOT WAIT TO RACE AGAIN! The next race in the series is in two weeks, and I plan on being there unless I land a job (which I’m really hoping on doing so I can get a road bike!). I have some redemptive desires I need to act upon! Until then I plan on hitting the trails more, and practicing more racing style rides (less stopping, less falling?) to build my endurance, especially on climbs. I also want to continue to familiarize myself more with the trails, especially to learn the downhill parts more so I don’t have anymore panic braking moments.
Matt worked a long day, so I haven’t been able to get his photos, but I’ll most a post once I have some of his!