Where is this summer going?! Already one week into July… the year seems to be flying by. It’s definitely been a year of changing plans and kind of going with the flow. I decided a bit ago, probably shortly after deciding I would stop following a training plan, that I wouldn’t be going to nationals, which was my big goal for the summer. The traveling, the money to spend (big factor), and potentially not really getting to race much (uh, hi. Olympians in my race) kind of all factored in. It was a relief, but I do find myself getting slightly sad. But it’s all working out since my crash and injuries anyway.
The exciting thing is the Laramie Mountain Bike Series started!! Woohoo! My World Cups! Unfortunately the first race came 3 days after my crash, which really stressed me out. A lot of people were surprised to see me lining up, heavily bandaged and rather spacey and out of it due to my concussion. (I am in NO way advocating racing with a concussion. Not a smart idea.) Luckily the course was a good one – pretty much climb for 30 minutes, descend for 15… repeat! The start for LMBS got moved to the lower trailhead this year and starts on a new 0.7 mile stretch of single track called LiMBS that is ungodly rough. I went with my Epic, and softened my suspension all the way to help out with my bum shoulder and also to help reduce my brain jiggling around.
I do believe I took the second row, behind Georgia. The rest of the open women tend to hang in the back, but I learned last year to take my place up front. There were 9 ladies in open women, which was awesome!! Start went off, and the pain of XC racing started. I tried to hang onto wheels as we went up LiMBS and I fight to find some rhythm. It freaking hurt. I questioned why I was racing. Gwynn came around me on Pole Creek, and I just settled in to a semi-comfortable-but-this-still-freaking-hurts pace up the climbs and onto Headquarters.
On Headquarters I saw Teresa catching me on the climb, but I managed to gap her on the descending. I was trying to ride semi-cautiously on the descents as the last thing I wanted to do was crash and worsen any injuries. Luckily a big part of the descent is on a stretch of double track, and I put the power down, getting all aero and roadie! Middle Aspen we caught some beginner traffic, which I think is stressful for both the beginners and pros. My passes went well and I was through the start/finish for my second lap still in second place.
On the second lap Teresa finally made contact on the overlook climb on Headquarters. I stayed within a few seconds of her until the rocky, chunky climb up the Summit Loop, where I bobbled and took a few seconds to catch my breath. Bye bye Teresa! I still didn’t know where anybody else was, so I hammered the descending to finish third… woohoo! I had no idea how this race would go, and it surprisingly went ok with all things considered!
A week later was the second LMBS race. With an additional week of recovery, I was excited to get back to racing feeling healthier. The course was set to be long and tough at 19.5 miles. It involved three descents down Aspen, which is rocky and rooty and highly eroded. I hadn’t ridden it since last year so I didn’t know how it would be. This time I took the third row among the men at the start, and immediately from the start I felt like poo. My legs just weren’t showing up. But I settled in, and reminded myself to pace my efforts since it was a long race, and there was no sense in blowing up on the first lap or two.
First time Aspen I took it fairly cautiously, taking my time to choose lines. The descent down Haunted Forest was super sandy and sketchy. We had to turn around a downed tree, and a branch lodged itself in my rear wheel so I had to jump off and pull it out, and then continue. We had to do the long double track Old Happy Jack climb back to the start/finish which is an advantage for me since it’s just a pure power type of riding. It sucks as you don’t get any recovery, even on the flatter portions, it’s all max heart rate the whole time. I came through in first place, which made me smile for my second lap!
Second lap went well, though on Aspen an advanced men category male decided to start throwing a fit and swore at me by name for not descending faster. Stressful, but damn, I was leading open women and I ride within my abilities, especially with a concussion, dammit! Finally he got around on a safer section to pass, and I was surrounded by polite racers the rest of the race. Once again, came through for my third and final lap in first, no women in sight. I still didn’t know where Teresa was behind me, and I wasn’t finding familiar faces in advanced men to ask how far back the other women were. I would ride 90% of the third lap all by myself, which always gets eery, because I always end up feeling like I’m the last person on the race course.
Finally on the Old Happy Jack climb Jim caught me and said he hasn’t seen any women since he passed them on his first lap… whew! I had it! 🙂 So I looped back up Pole Creek, and then did the funniest thing… I zipped up my jersey… ha! I always see the Big Girls do that at World Cups, and so you know… a Laramie MTB race is like a World Cup… so I zipped that stuff up! #tooprobutsonotpro is appropriate at this moment in time… and I won my second ever LMBS open women’s race with a margin of 3.5 minutes!
I was gassed at the end of the race, which pleased me as it meant I left it all out there. And I was super excited, as for the first time ever I moved into the “leader’s jersey” aka (“leader’s horn”) in any category at the series!! Gives me motivation for the other 4 races left in the series, as I’d love to bring the open women’s overall back to a Laramie native and Wyoming resident 😀
So yeah… this summer is just all about going with the flow. I’m honestly not riding very much, especially since I’ve been doing 4-day stretches at work. But it’s ok, and I’m ok with it. Since I still have all my time off from my canceled nationals trip, I have some fun stuff planned! I’m racing the 50k Tatanka Point to Point in Sturgis, SD this weekend. Then I’ll be able to make LMBS #3 (so excited I can do all 6 races this year!). Got some other fun rides planned, too. Maybe this is working out for me, after all…