Sunday, July 26, 2009

3 laps is better than 2...

Whew. I've been thinking about upgrading from beginner class to sport lately, and finally did it with the support/urging of some teammates. This was actually a season goal for me - I had mediocre success last year that led me to believe I could race the early season in beginner and feel comfortable upgrading by mid-June. That was a bit optimistic, but I've had success lately and definitely don't want to feel like a "sandbagger"... Today's Cranky Monkey Wakefield event was my first in the Sport class, and for the most part, the biggest difference is the riders are faster (and better) and there are more laps. In this case, 3 instead of 2. 18 miles.

I have to say, this was probably the most fun race I've done all year. I went out with the attitude that there were going to be chicks there who could pound me into the ground, so I hoped to (once again), get faster as the race went on and remember to eat and hydrate. Update: here's me in the professional race photos, looking dialed in.

At the start, for some reason they put the women and clydesdale classes together (I was warming up until after they started announcements, so I missed the logic), and the women had all lined up at the back. That's fine, I was out to have some fun, remember? But as we know, I like to start hard and fast and hit the singletrack first so that I can burn out too early and be grounchy with myself. So it was probably a blessing in disguise. I had a pretty decent start regardless - I was the third woman but we were still in a mix of men, so I couldn't tell for sure that was the case.

Within the first mile, I had an awesome "Superfly moment" (that's what I'm going to call it when I love the 29er wheels) - over a rooty whoopy up section, the guy in front of me took the good line/spun out/was soon to be walking. I powered up over the roots on the harder line, clipped out with one foot for a push, and was off again. What fun! I passed a few of the men in the first woods section - and was feeling pretty good. The roots and logs were a little slippery, but I was very relaxed, riding well, and quick to settle into my endurance pace. I expected that there were at least a female or two off the front (a suspicion that I continued to assert to the many a spectator later).

The first time we hit a bit of road, I caught one of the women who'd hit the singletrack first, and followed her for the next mile or so through a bit of climbing. Since it was clear she was holding me up going uphill, I powered through the next road section, passing her and (it turns out) another woman as well (a fact that I overlooked at the time). I was feeling really good - somehow in the last year I've gone from "droppee" to "dropper" on some of the hills.

About 2/3 through the first lap, I just had a moment where I realized how much fun I was having. Beautiful day, very courteous guys to pass, fun singletrack with berms and purpose-built mountain bike trails... and wow, it's so much more fun to race when you have little chance of winning... well, that's what I thought, anyway. And to top it off, my lap time was about where I thought I could manage for 3 laps. I struggled to get a ShotBlok out of my pocket and started the second lap with a very awkwardly hopped curb.

Midway through the second lap, someone I passed said I was leading, to which I asserted that was not possible - there were women off the front. Then some spectators told me the same thing - I told them the women off the front were so far ahead they hadn't seen 'em. Why, when Shea told me I was leading I didn't believe him, I don't know, but I continued to think I was at least several minutes off the leaders. This was actually good - I was relaxed and settled into my pace, enjoying the ride and staying well within my heart rate range. I think. I wouldn't actually know that because my heart rate moniter hasn't been working all season and I still haven't fixed it.

By the third lap, I was really happy - powering through things, still riding technically sound, and totally looking forward to the downhill bermed turns near the finish. Last year those terrified me. I knew when I finished I'd had one of my best races ever. And that I'd managed to eat and hydrate and get faster (lap times of 34:42, 34:28, and 34:12) as the race went on. Success to me. I still didn't believe Shea when he said I'd won. But then they posted results, and in fact, I had. All the evidence said that I'd upgraded and won my first race in sport by leading for most of the race. I guess it was good that I upgraded...
My rookie mistake of the day - the sunscreen never made it out of the car. I am just a bit pinker than I prefer.

1 comment:

  1. Becky, you were great out there today!! You found a good pace and stuck to it, and you had fun!! Nice job chica!!