Playin’ catch-up: Ridgeline Rampage and my road race fail

Cruising to a win at the Ridgeline Rampage (Photo by Yann Ropar)

I feel like my blog is going to turn into nothing but race reports at the rate I’m going… and I don’t necessarily want that!  Needless to say, I raced twice last weekend, and race again tomorrow and I can’t go without saying a little bit of something, right?

So last Saturday on the 27th I raced in the Ridgeline Rampage race, which kicks off the Rocky Mountain Endurance series.  I entered the 10-mile “Half XC” category as the course has a ton of climbing and I’m still increasing my mountain biking distances.  I was racing “sight unseen” which had me a bit uneasy as I would have no idea what to anticipate.  I actually think it worked to my benefit as I didn’t have time to stew over something coming up on the course, like I did in Fruita with Chutes & Ladders.

Turns out only 3 ladies showed up to race the Half XC category.  OK, cool.  Podium for me!  That made me quite happy actually.  I led the group out on the pavement, and in turn was the first to hit the singletrack which meant in turn I was the first to have to start passing all the Half XC men racers.  And boy did I pass a lot.  Then I started passing women in the XC category.  WTF?!

I was owning people on the climbs, but getting caught on the downhills.  Loose gravel and super tight switchbacks made me play it easy.  First serious switchback I panicked and jumped off the bike, letting my competition pass me.  She was a lot stronger on the downhills, so I’m guessing she would’ve caught me eventually.  I was alright, though.  I was proud, as I carefully cleared the rest of the switchbacks for the rest of the course without a dab!

The downhill portion that put me into 2nd place (Photo by Mountain Moon Photography)

Soon there was this INSANE long climb out of nowhere.  No joking, there were XC and Half-Marathon men passed out and puking on the sides, and about 5-8 XC women walking up it.  Granny gear it was, and I sat and spun the whole thing at a mighty 4.4mph.  It sucked, but I couldn’t have been happier about passing all those hike-a-bikers, knowing that  6 months ago I would’ve been in their shoes as well.  Soon I had gapped the walking ladies, and was riding mostly by myself, except for an occasional lady or guy I’d catch and pass.  The course crested way above Castle Rock, and all below me were identical little McMansions spread out.  Without thinking I burst into the “Little Boxes” song that is the theme for the TV show “Weeds.”  Seriously, I totally felt like I was in Agrestic!

8.7 miles in I dropped my chain off my front chain ring.  Calmly I stopped and put it back on, and continued on.  Luckily no one caught and passed me during this time, so I’m sure I lost a minute or two from the leader in my category.  Before I knew it the 10 miles was up and I was back on the pavement for the final sprint to the finish.  I went into roadie mode and pegged it, which led to the announcer saying something smart ass about how he couldn’t understand how I had so much left in for me for that kind of finish.  I call it Finish Line Motivation 🙂

I crossed under the big finish line sign and grabbed a water bottle from neutral support and downed it.  It was a hot day, well over 70 and I couldn’t swallow my Clif Shot drink mix that was in my bottle… it was just too sugary and hot for me, so I did the whole race without any hydration – not to mention the course was so curvy that there was really no time for me to drink before the next switchback would appear!

There it is, my first race win!  Granted, I won my age category by default of being the only 30-39 racer, but I’m still pleased as I raced a race and didn’t just sit back!  I was 2nd overall in women’s Half XC.  Finally good results!  I was mostly excited by the fact I would’ve been 4th place in the men’s race, and definitely not last if I would’ve done the full 20 mile XC.  Sometimes I surprise myself 🙂  The best thing was the feeling I felt after all the climbs.  Climbing use to make me cry and throw little kid fits, and I took that and made it one of my strengths by forcing myself to take climbing routes.  That says a lot I think 🙂  Anyways, I skipped out on the podium ceremony, and just grabbed my award and headed home since it was a long drive and I was sunburned, hungry, and exhausted and felt no need to stand on the sketchy wooden blocks and put my arms in the air all awkwardly.

First Place plaque!

The next day was the Deer Trail Road Race.  What possessed me to sign up for a 43 mile road race in the middle of freakin’ nowhere on an 80 degree day at the beginning of allergy season is beyond me.  Seriously… gotta think things through better!  Dehydrated, grouchy, sunburned, and definitely not adjusted to riding in 80 degree temperatures, I knew it was going to be bad before it even started.  My body didn’t want to cooperate, I wasn’t in it mentally, and some evil purple-weed flower stuff that smells like vomit threw me into 3 asthma-like attacks (I don’t have asthma, I’m only guessing what I experienced is what they must feel like) on the bike.  15.5 miles in I called it quits.  My first DNF.  I hung out with Wendy and took photos of Shareen and Matt.  Luckily Matt had a kick ass race in SM5!  I’ve decided that when it comes to pavement and skinny tire riding, I’m a time trialist and “excel” at stuff at 25 miles or under.  I’ve learned my lesson on road races of longer distances…

So in light of my experiences at the Ridgeline Rampage, I decided to give the next RME race – Battle the Bear –  a go this weekend.  It was suppose to be today, but snow once again postponed it to tomorrow.  BUT… I’ve decided to step it up and take the challenge of the XC category and race 20 miles.  The course is fast and non-technical, so I know the 20 miles will go a lot faster than it does at, for example, Gowdy.  Still nervous to challenge myself at that distance, but it has to happen at some point as the Laramie Enduro is getting closer and closer, and I gotta learn to do 20 miles if I want to finish 70 miles!

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