Wow, happy to get through the first mountain bike race of the year (and first race as a Pro)! It’s hard to believe that two years ago, this was my first bike race and second time ever riding off-road. To say that I was not prepared at all to become a bike racer at that point in my life would be an understatement, but doing so changed everything for me in a very positive way! This is what I rode then:
I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for the race (I found out I had a series entry about a week in advance) and luckily my friends at the shop loaned me old parts to throw together. My friend Andy had used the frame for trials riding. Somehow I made it through the race without being to close to the bottom of the sport field. I was terrified, horribly inexperienced, out of shape and thought I’d never finish!
Revisiting this race for the first time since 2008 was a completely different experience, to say the least! I made a bit of an upgrade:
I’ve only been riding this bike for about two weeks and it is nothing short of a dream to ride–it makes me really happy! I love riding tubulars for cyclocross, so this season, I made the decision to switch to the Reynolds MTN T wheelset for mountain bike. I glued them up myself (Dave helped set them up with his super pro mechanic skills) and they were impressively easy to install…I swear by Caffe Latex to seal everything.
This weekend was my first chance to try them out and I knew instantly that I made the right choice. The tread pattern on the Geax Barro Race tubular is minimal, but the suppleness (290 tpi) and flexibility of the casing allows for AMAZING traction! These are also the first carbon wheels I’ve tried and they definitely accelerate quickly. It wasn’t too hard to get the hole shot today.
I got a rare chance to pre-ride the course yesterday with my friend Cory and we camped out near the parking lot. It was really nice not to rush to the race the morning of for once and we went downtown for breakfast and chill away from the venue for a while. I was surprisingly calm warming up and lining up at the start..I feel like the first race of the season is always a bit nerve-wracking, but I was just ready to race! As soon as we were off, I took the lead in hopes of separating the field on the hills. Abby and Kim were right there and I stayed as close as possible through the big descents. The course is run over some sizable ski hills (there is a large ski jump at the Iola Winter Sports Club), which are followed by fun, sandy, flowy singletrack and lots of short, punchy climbs.
It was nothing like I remembered, but I had a great time. Kim ran into some bad luck and was unfortunately sidelined with a mechanical on the first lap. After that I made a small mistake on a steep climb and Diana and Lisa from Team Adventure 212 got the best of me. For the rest of the race they were ~15 seconds in front of me and I just could not close the gap! Though he couldn’t race, Dave was all over the course offering encouragement.
I definitely wasn’t well-rested for this race and felt a bit flat on the climbs. The bike was awesome and just railed the twisty sections and descents though! On the last lap I was going fast and taking risks to catch those girls. I was closing in until I crashed in the sand and it was over after that. I recovered quickly, but those seconds mattered and I finished fourth overall of 30 starters! Still pleased with the result though.
I’m really happy that so many women were there–hopefully the rest of the series will draw larger fields as well! Huge congratulations to my teammate Tristan Schouten, who won the Elite men’s race (95 starters)! Thank you to Mafia Racing, all of my sponsors, my wonderful boyfriend and friends for the support! Great job to everyone racing today 🙂