Laramie Mountain Bike Series: So it begins again

And so it begins again…

And so things come full circle… A year ago next week I got the notion to do a mountain bike race.  Little did I know it’d be the start of something rather obsessive that would eat up my free time and day off requests.  I chuckled about this as I pulled into the Tie City parking lot last night for the start of the 2013 Laramie Mountain Bike Series.

The feelings of wanting to puking and run away?  Yep, they were sure there this time around!  I find it strange in a sense that I put so much importance on my local races, and therefore have such an increased nervousness about everything.  Maybe it’s because I know a lot of the people and have a certain expectation to exceed?  Who knows… but as usual I got there way too early.  At least this year I looked like a pro as I flipped over my bike and lubed my chain.  Last year I was sitting there thinking “Whoa, am I actually suppose to do that?!”  I made conversation with the guy that parked next to me.  Someone asked if I was racing Open, and I silently cursed my team kit for making me look like an Open class racer.  I sized up my female competition, recognizing some faces from last year and hoped I could hand them the butt-whooping that I so desired to.  I put on my number plate, horrified to find that it has 4 holes to attach it with, and I grabbed only 3 twist ties out of habit. 

Rode up to the outhouse, and then around the campground for a warm up.  Then back to the car for my gloves and glasses.  Then up to the starting line.  Nervous energy.  Impressed people with the 300 miles that I’ve put on my Fast Track tires as they were talking about their tires wearing out in 50.  Realized the Open gals also had yellow number plates.  Whew.  Before I knew it they were calling up the Intermediate/Advanced Women.  I got a second row line up and let out a big sigh.  It’s hard to be racing against the Big Girls when I only managed mid-pack Beginner results a year ago. 

GO.  I jumped out rather quickly without even trying.  Soon it was me and a gal named Wendy (who never finished lower than 2nd last year at the races) battling up the campground climb, which I mashed at a high cadence in my big ring.  Go me.  I took the lead and was the first through the gate onto Meadow.  What the hell… but what was refreshing is I didn’t have any of those doubt-filled feelings of my position like I have had at many other races this year.  Yeah, bee-yotches, I’m in first!  I remained in the lead until Upper UW, where Wendy zipped around me.  No feelings of panic and I settled in.  I could immediately tell she could actually descend, unlike me.  I’m still my brake-loving-take-the-corners-like-a-granny self, and I’m fine with that.  I knew there was lots of climbing to come.

We hit Aspen just about the time the Advanced Men started catching us.  Oh great, a bunch of adrenaline filled men with better skills than me zipping around all crazy on a technical descent.  One guy did wreck right in front of Wendy and I.  See, there’s a reason to descend like a granny…  we went to climb one of the hills on Aspen and my legs spun like crazy and it felt like I dropped my chain.  I let out some swear words (I’m quite the sailor when racing, even though I try not to be!), and stopped to look at my chain.  It was fine.  DAMMIT!  Two girls in my class got in front of me.  I was sad.  Stupid mistake.  I hopped back on the bike and pedaled like crazy to keep the girls in sight.  The descent was fast and I was holding on for dear life, trying not to look down at my Garmin at my speed.  No one needs to know they’re going 17mph on singletrack through a forest.  ‘Tis not necessary!

Before I knew it I splashed through the creek at the end of Haunted Forest and was on Old Happy Jack Road.  Two more stream crossing soaked my poor left foot and my butt, which left me really conscious that my kit might turn see through when wet.  I mean, no one wants to see a transparent blue kit with my uber white buns hanging out with a license plate across it announcing Spradley Barr Auto Group.  Considering nobody was giving me odd looks, I decided my blue shorts do not turn transparent, and I was safe.  I caught one of the girls that passed me, and I had a sigh of relief knowing I was sitting in 3rd.  Old Happy Jack Road is a light climb and then flat gravel road, so it was a good place to mentally prepare for the 7% grade climb of Middle Aspen coming up. 

I caught the 2nd place gal at the beginning of Middle Aspen and made a pass.  She passed me back.  I passed her again.  And finally it stuck.  I had to come off the bike twice for climbs due to the trails being littered with too much traffic to try to grunt out the climbs.  Major props to the dude on the singlespeed next to me, though it sounded like he was in utter pain with every pedal stroke.  Yeahhh, I’ll keep my gears, thank you!  I had a strange sense of “this climb isn’t really that bad” come over me, and I pushed through every pedal stroke.  I may or may not be guilty of eying my Georgia Gould autograph on my top tube for motivation.  At the top of Middle Aspen I was almost delusional as to where I was on the trail system, and didn’t even realize I was on Alder and on the home stretch of Lap 1.  Adler, Campground Bypass, it all flew by.  I powered up over the cement to the parking lot and was on my way for the second lap.

Proving my Big Girl status, I successfully drank from my bottle and stayed pedaling.  Damn, if that ain’t pro, I don’t know what is!  (Seriously, it’s so hard for me to coordinate my body to drink and pedal at the same time, don’t laugh!)  My legs screamed with more protest but I forced them to climb the Campground, Meadow, and the first half of Upper UW.  I felt some of my descending badass-ness coming back from last summer, and used the brakes a smidge less.  The second lap utilized the “short loop” so I had to cut off onto Rollercoaster and then down to Adler and yadda yadda.  I love Rollercoaster, and am in all intensive purposes the Queen of the Mountain on this segment Strava.  It is MY trail, dammit!  I kept playing cat and mouse with the same men from the their intermediate class, back and forth we would pass each other depending if it was a climb or a flat or a descent.  I didn’t have any women in front of me or behind me.  Coming up to Campground I saw the girl I had passed on Middle Aspen and briefly panicked thinking that she was on her final lap. 

The third and final lap was a repeat of Meadow, Upper UW, Rollercoaster, Adler, and Campground Bypass.  I almost ate it into a bush entering onto Rollercoaster, but saved it.  Whew.  I knew I was on the home stretch and it was all about staying on the bike in the upright correct position.  I briefly saw a girl in my class within eyesight behind me, and as I turned onto Campground Bypass I saw the look of seriousness from her.  Oh no, time to kick it into high gear!  I mashed the Bypass, scared she was catching me, though I heard male voices behind me.  I scrambled up the climb to the parking lot and went into panic sprint mode (still amazing how I can make my body do that when it’s clearly saying to me NO MORE PEDALING).  I crossed the finish with no other females in sight, nearly falling off my bike in an attempt not to puke everywhere. 

My stomach had the most horrible cramps and I didn’t want to move.  I was sure I was in 2nd, but not sure.  I didn’t want to celebrate too early.  I chatted with new-found friends, including the guy that hooked handlebars with me on Middle Aspen for about ten feet.  I told him no worries, it was like we were a side-by-side tandem bike!  People asked how I did and I hesitantly answered 2nd.  The guy parked next to me said he was pretty sure I was 2nd since he saw us all come around while trying to fix a flat tire.  I hobbled over to my car and readied the bike to be put away.  Then the death coughing started.  It was a rather dusty race, and my lungs were letting me know.  No one told me I had a very dark dirt streak connecting my eyebrows into a scary looking unibrow.  Way to go everyone, way to go…

I grabbed a DELICIOUS burger and corn on the cob from the Pedal House and settled into eating.  No more taking 2 hours to eat a burger like last year, as I devoured this one like a champ, or a pig.  You pick.  I was covered in dirt with a unibrow, ladylike features go out the window in these situations!  I hung out with Travis and fellow teammate Dave while waiting for results to be announced.  It started raining. 

Being the ever-professionals that they are, the organizers had the results loaded before they even did the raffle awards!  Indeed, I was called out as the second place finisher and I avoided doing a happy dance.  Holy crap, how did I go from midpack Beginner to 2nd place in Intermediate/Advanced?!?!?!?  I kicked major butt, including kicking the butts of the girls who kicked my butt in Beginner last summer.  I’m still confused by this.  I confided in Matt that I hope no one thinks I’m a doper.  He snickered.  LOL.

So there it is, a successful start to the LMBS.  Next week is race #2.  I should be at every race except for the one at the end of July that comes between Nationals and the Enduro.  I’m excited, but still nervous.  Admittingly, I feel like poop today and slept until 9am.  My lungs burn and are clogged with mucus, and my stomach still feels a bit wonky.  I was going to ride, but not sure that will be happening before I head back up for my work week.  Laundry calls to me, and the cat is swearing her food bowl is empty.  Such is a life of a fairly decent probably should upgrade her license to Cat 2 mountain bike racer chick 🙂

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