Well, finally the race was here – the one I had been planning since last fall. I’m still digesting how I feel about this race. I can’t say I’m overly elated about how things went down, but everyone keeps telling me I should be happy with how things went down. I’m just on the edge…
Matt and I arrived in Fruita on Friday, and immediately went out to the venue – the trails at 18 Road – to pre-ride the course. It was a super sunny and hot day, which had it’s own way of messing with me. Going from riding in 40 degree weather to 70 degree weather does weird things to a body! Though I was completely spastic on the ride (6 hours in a car does that to a person!), I felt OK and had a sort of game plan in my head. My only concern was the fact my heartrate would hit 190 and just stay there, and I couldn’t recover. I could actually feel pain in my heart muscle, ugh.
Satisfied with gaining at least a basic knowledge of the trails, we headed back to our hotel, which nicely enough had a jacuzzi tub (yay for being La Quinta Elite members!). A bike may or may not have been washed in said tub. That is all I’ll say! We cleaned up and headed out to find some dinner. Walking down the sidewalk I heard a “Heidi!” and saw my friend Reanna from Fort Follies, and fellow Wind Chill Cycling teammate Amy! So awesome to run into friends like this! I bought some socks at Over the Edge of a T-rex riding a mountain bike, and then we headed to the Hot Tomato, which is a Fruita food staple. Very very very good pizza and breadsticks! I usually hate non-commercial pizza (living in New Jersey was hell for me pizza wise…), but holy crap Hot Tomato was good!
Alarm went off at an uncomfortable 5:45am on Saturday morning. We quickly readied ourselves and grabbed breakfast in the hotel lobby, and then off to the venue. Which is stupidly dusty. Beyond dusty. But more on that later. We discovered that they added another mile to the race course, adding in a start loop. I wasn’t quite amused by this. Sure, a mile isn’t a lot, but it can be a lot, you know? We pre-rode the start loop as our warmup and then prepared to stage, as Matt had an earlier start time than I did.
I discovered that I apparently look very young. A sweet girl in the 15-16 category (prolly cat 1… all those kids are too damn fast!) asked if I was in her category, which I had to laugh about and told her she deserved a hug for thinking I was that young! So enough I was staging for my race, the women’s Cat 3 30-39. Suddenly I knew I was going to lose horribly bad. I dunno, just an icky feeling.
Whistle went off and I clipped in rather well and was sitting in 3rd place on the start loop. I came off the big hill and heard the announcer say my name, which was a little strange – just not use to that at races! I just hammered down, tried to focus on my breathing. There was a girl in my class in a purple jersey, and I was determined to not let her pass me. All this time I thought I was still sitting in 3rd, but was really 4th. But thinking I was in a podium spot was good enough motivation.
The first part of singletrack was stupidly sandy, and I ended up washing out at a decent speed. I swear I was only on the ground for a second before jumping back up and pedaling like crazy. Purple Jersey Gal had caught up to me, which was NOT allowed, dammit! Soon I became a bit more frazzled as the Cat 1 Junior boys caught us and were zipping all around. Soon the Prime Cut ascent began and it took everything at times to keep pedaling, and I’d just concentrate at one pedal stroke at the time. Amusingly enough, Toby Keith’s “Made in America” song randomly popped into my head at one point during a climb and I was randomly singing “There’s nothing that he can’t fix with WD40 and a Craftsman wrench…” Yeahhhhhh… at least it wasn’t Jason Aldean’s “1994”, right?
I was going a good job at holding off Purple Jersey Gal when I hit the bottom of Chutes & Ladders, which I’ve officially deemed the stupidest trail in existence. Seriously, no need for climbs that steep. The world will not suffer if those climbs disappeared! I didn’t even attempt the first one, instead I painstakingly started to walk. My calves started cramping with every step. I ended up walking all the stupid vertical climbs, maybe 4-5 in total. So did Purple Jersey Gal, luckily. But soon she was right on my rear wheel, and I sneakingly knew that when the moment came she would leave me in her dust.
Alas, that moment came on the last technical climb, where I got off my line and was stopped by a huge boulder. That was the last I saw of Purple Jersey Gal until the finish line. Ugh. I had also run over cactus with my front wheel, which flung up into my face. Now I was downright paranoid my tires were going flat, just as I got to the super speedy downhill singletrack! UGHHHH
So I played it easy… asked a course marshal if my tires were flat and he said only my rear looked a little flat (turns out it was fine). 3 miles to the finish, and I gave up. Screw it, I was in last place, and as long as I crossed the finish line I would qualify for Nationals, so why risk wrecking? I was pretty downtrodden at this point. I smiled at spectators, who usually yelled something back about “yay, keep smiling, this is so fun! You’re doing so good!” which started to feel like mocking as I was last place! But it was awesome to see how supportive the spectators were, definitely not something I had seen at the time trial or my Laramie MTB races last summer. Everyone seemed to have encouraging things to yell and cowbells. Yay for glorious cowbells!
The finish was a super fast downhill (I think I was going at a decent 22mph… Matt reported he was going 31!), with a 90 degree turn. I slammed the brakes on, determined not to wreck in front of everyone, and turned towards the finish, which was met with something along the lines of “Here comes Heidi Gurov from Spradley Barr Wind…” I stopped listening. Still creeped about my name being announced! I turned off the course and ran into Purple Jersey Gal, whose name is really Christy. I congratulated her. She’s actually pretty badass as she finished up chemo for breast cancer not too long ago!
Soon Matt and Suzie wandered over, fresh off of both of their 1st place finishes. Found my results, discovered my 5th Place and the fact that there was a DNF girl, which I guess means I wasn’t last? Hmm.
So yeah, that was my Rumble at 18 Road. Qualified to Nationals in July, but not completely happy. I dunno, it just felt so off. And I’m sorry, and maybe I’m spoiled by Gowdy being in my back yard, but for the life of me I’m still trying to see what the hoopla about the 18 Road trails is about??? Desert is awesome, I get that, I’m a desert lover! But otherwise the trails themselves, meaning Prime Cut and Chutes & Ladders just didn’t ring out anything special to me. And the DUST! OMG! Mr. Fozzy looked like he just did a rallycross event, instead of just being parked at a bike race! Once again, Gowdy is my home trail system so I think it comes down to me being a spoiled brat. I still had fun, and it was fun hanging out with Suzie and just being in Fruita in general. Just not overly thrilled about the race. Or the dust. Bad for lungs!
For the record, my tires were fine for the race after the cactus murdering. However, my front tire went flat 24 hours later on the bike rack and the valve stem was broken. Still trying to figure that one out…
After awards we headed out towards Moab for more riding and camping! We attempted a ride of Pipe Dream, but we were both worn out. So we spun out the legs on the 4×4 road Pipeline, and headed back into town to meet up with Reanna and Amy. After a very fulfilling dinner at Moab Brewery, where I had a bacon cheeseburger, fries, coleslaw, and about 10 pickles we set out towards Arches National Park, which is where we would be camping for the night. A blustery cold front was blowing in, so our campsite greeted us with hurricane winds. Not really sure what we should do, Matt decided to block the wind with Mr. Fozzy and put our tent under a tree, and Reanna and Amy used barren desert trees to try to block the wind from theirs. Since it was so nasty we all pretty much set up camp and retired to our tents for the night.
Soon it rained, which lulled me off to sleep. The campsite was beautiful and spacious! So fortunate I was able to book a site in Arches, and the $20 was a whole lot nicer than the hotel prices! The morning greeted us with clear blue skies. The storm had blown through, leaving nice weather in its wake!
Matt and I packed up and headed out of town, stopping at the Klondike Bluffs trails to get some more Moab riding in before the long drive home. We rode DKG and Dino Flow, doing about an 9 mile ride before calling it quits. Definitely like the trails in that system, and will have to come back later and spend some more time there! And so began the long drive home… stopping in Grand Junction to feast at Famous Dave’s before heading up over I-70. Luckily the roads were not too bad and we rolled into home about 9pm, with a screaming bengal greeting us at the door. Woke up Monday morning to a foot of snow… sigh.
So that was the big Fruita/Moab race weekend! Got some awesome cyclist tan line action going on, had a fairly decent race (I just gotta keep telling myself that…), Matt won his first ever mountain bike race, and we camped in a hurricane in the desert with friends! Eventually I’ll start training and actually stop being lazy…