After my last post I traveled to New England for work and got intimated by lobsters. I had never had them before and thought I could handle shucking the lobster but I was very very wrong!
My cold did not improve and I opted against racing SERC that weekend in Jackson, GA. I was disappointed but easily consoled when Dave and I explored the new bike path leading from Pisgah (Davidson River) to downtown Brevard for the White Squirrel Fest. We even saw a white squirrel and discovered a pump track and dirt jumps on the way!
Dave is healing well and it was awesome to ride with him again after so many months. We enjoyed some bluegrass while the sun set in the mountains and rode back into the forest in the dark. The trees were full of white lightning bugs that made Pisgah look like it was sparkling! I really miss commuting on bike paths every day!
After a quick trip to Nashville and back I found myself on the road again, solo, to Birmingham for the Bump N Grind. This was an event I had always wanted to try and I was excited to race again! To my dismay the temperature gauge on my dashboard slowly rose ten, twenty, thirty degrees as I approached Alabama. After meeting with a few shops I pre-rode one of the xc loops (all 23 miles of it!) on Friday in humid, 100+ degree weather! I took it easy and stayed hydrated as I spun the travel out of my legs.
The course was awesome! There was a ton of fast, flowy, rocky, rooty singletrack reminiscent of Brown County and Rock Lake (two of my favorite places to ride and all three are IMBA Epics), a long rocky fire road climb that rewarded with a fast, even rockier descent into Blood Rock:
Oh and I should mention that Oak Mountain also has a bike wash, changing area, real bathrooms, (the oldest running) BMX track, horses, a golf course, cabins..pretty much anything you could want. BUMP, the local SORBA chapter, does an excellent job building and maintaining the trails! I had the pleasure of meeting members of the Magic City Cycle Chix, a brand-new, booming women’s cycling group. Birmingham certainly has a great mountain bike/cycling community!
Back to the racing: Saturday was the short track, dubbed the “Turn N Burn.” It was scheduled for noon, mostly in the sun..I knew it would be a scorcher. At the line Bruce had us (everyone–there was a mass start) face the opposite way and put me right in front with the boys. I figured it would be interesting to race the course backwards and got ready to go. When it was time we took off and I got a fantastic start, only to learn seconds later that I was tricked and we were all supposed to turn around and race the proper way, hence the “turn and burn.” I guess I only had the BURN part down!
So there I was, nearly last wheel (all the way on the left in the photo). Somehow it actually made me really calm and focused, as I flew to catch as many riders as possible. I love short track and had a ton of fun on the course! After a week of dragging through my workouts I finally felt healthy and like myself again.
I wanted to do the Super D down Blood Rock but I was feeling pretty fried and needed some relief from the oppressive heat. Then I realized my rear wheel had a ton of drag from a dirty piston that was sticking on the rotor. It would have been really unfortunate to race the long course with added resistance!
Luckily I got it fixed and spent the afternoon and evening in my little economy extended stay room. I was pretty bored being by myself but it was nice to chill in the AC and prepare my meals. I need to avoid gluten (or suffer dearly the next day) and it is nearly impossible to do so eating out on the road.
The next morning I was ready for the cross country in my new team kit! The short track actually helped open my legs and I felt as good as I could warming up in the heat, which has never been my strong suit. I am a very “hot” (temperature-wise) person..give me ‘cross weather anytime! I was pretty disappointed to find that there were only two Pro women in the field. It really didn’t feel like a race, but there was a start and finish line, and we were off.
Almost immediately I got chills and my heart rate shot through the roof, even though the effort seemed slower than normal. Kim’s a strong, very experienced rider; I let her lead through the drifty loose-over hardpack singletrack and she took it up a few notches on the fire road. I made the decision there to go into survival mode and kept my pace consistent…
On a different day I might have been able to contest the win, but Kim looked good and I knew I wasn’t near 100%. I didn’t want to push my limit too early in such a long race and risk not finishing. The payout was very good and EQUAL…as bad as it sounds, I just needed to finish and I’d earn a check that could cover my rent. Plus I didn’t want to get sick again and further delay my recovery.
I still pushed the hardest pace I could sustain and enjoyed the course as much as I could. Even in the shade the heat and humidity were overwhelming and it was a tough day on the bike. Blood Rock was my saving grace and it was my favorite section of the course:
When water was available I dumped it over my head and down my back and the Craft superlight mesh baselayer really helped me cool and dry off without feeling clammy. I actually drank all two liters of ice water in my hydration pack (a first for me) and still ran out in the last five miles! Still, I never bonked or felt totally depleted…just felt dazed from the heat, but I finished! Then I drove six hours home…that was the worst part.
Even though I had hoped for a better performance, the Bump N Grind is definitely on my calendar for the future! Thanks again to the promoters and volunteers who did an excellent job and offered equal pay for women. This fun event has a lot of unique twists and I really hope to see a LOT more women next year!
Thanks also to my coach, Momentum Racing, Pro Bikes, Maxxis, Adidas Eyewear, Industry Nine, Rocky Mountain, Troy Lee Designs and Craft!