I thought the mountain bike season would never start and now it’s flying by. I can’t believe it’s already been a month! By the time my season opener at Tsali came around I was very anxious to race again.
My introduction to the SERC/US Cup East Series began with a 4 mile individual time trial on the Right Loop Saturday. The course was super fun and fast with a monster climb thrown into the middle. Unfortunately I had spent a good part of the morning sick in the bathroom, but I was feeling fine by late afternoon for the race.
I had a great warm-up and was thinking positive thoughts. After leaving my “family” at WORS I was a little nervous and sort of felt like the new kid on the first day of school. There were no specific call-ups and the temperature really dropped as the wind started to pick up. People were starting to get cold standing around waiting to race. I was glad I had kept my warmers on as I rode around in circles to stay warm…
After a very long time it was my turn and I took off smooth, steady and strong. I don’t have a lot of time trial experience but I was thankful for the 20 min intervals my coach Gordy had had me doing! I finished second within 10 seconds of the leader, pretty close to where I wanted to be.
Afterward I rode a lap of the 15 mile course. The Tsali trails are fairly easy, but it had been a while since I last rode there and every trail is different when you race on it. The wind really picked up and the temperatures dropped even more. Pollen was everywhere for the first time of the year. My car no longer looked black! After the pre-ride I felt confident but also very sick. Even though I had gone at a very comfortable pace, I was depleted, congested and exhausted. Pretty much the opposite of how I wanted to feel!
I drove back to Asheville, prepared breakfast for the morning and slept in my own bed! And I woke up feeling worse, but shook it off. Dave and I headed out to Bryson City as the sun rose. 9:30 AM was WAY too early to race! I met some of my new teammates and got a solid warm-up in the team tent. All too soon it was time to start:
I was thrilled to see a women’s field of almost 30 riders! Immediately three of us were off the front and for once I sat in instead of pushing the pace. I knew it would be a long race (30 miles), especially for the first weekend of April. I was focused but my body rejected every idea of racing hard. I got popped off the pace of the first long, steep climb to the overlook and never recovered. I was riding smoothly, just slowly, and I was actually afraid I’d get sick right there on the trail.
I finished fifth overall and third in the Pro field. I hate how my hair looks after riding so I kept my helmet on for the podium..too bad that also looked silly! Maybe it’s time for a hat?
I had higher hopes since my training was going so well and I knew I was capable of much more, but not every race is perfect. I was disappointed but knew there would only be room for improvement and it’s a long season! It was fun to ride a longer, “old-school” mountain bike course rather than the <4 mile World Cup format loops in UCI races (though I really like those too, don’t get me wrong!).
Dave offered great moral support and climbed a mile uphill on his crutches to see the race! That is commitment. Thanks to Dave, Speed Cycling and Momentum Racing for the support. Looking forward to a good season!