I hadn’t been to North Carolina’s High Country yet, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to compete in a mountain bike stage race on top of Beech Mountain. My friend Olivia and I arrived on Friday to explore the new courses. The view at over a mile high was stunning:
We went the wrong way and stumbled upon a mysterious gate:
No one else was around and our pre-ride felt pretty surreal. I’ve never ridden trails quite like these before. The ground was really soft, sponge-like and mossy.
There were a million roots! Even though the trails were freshly cut, bumpy and slow, I really enjoyed the ride and looked forward to racing. I thought for sure that we could find an affordable hotel near the venue but I was wrong, so we headed back to Asheville for the comfort of home.
Short track was Saturday morning and we made it just in time. Not many women had pre-registered but I was pleased to see a decent field size! The course was mostly singletrack with very little passing room, so the start was even more important than usual. I took the hole shot and never looked back; I think those 25 minutes were the longest ever!
Shortly after Olivia and I pre-rode the Super D course and it did not disappoint! It was a true downhill course and a fair amount of gravity specialists were there too. I wish more xc races were combined with downhill; it was cool to meet different kinds of riders.
We hitched a ride on a hay cart back up to the start just in time for 60+ mph winds to come over the mountain. The clouds were CRAZY and then the sky opened up…
Super D was understandably postponed to 8am Sunday morning, and that made for a super early commute. Everything was ready to go before we went to sleep and Dave was nice enough to drive us to the venue. The course was essentially an ice rink after the storm…all you could do was hold on for the ride and try not to brake! Fortunately it was in a time trial format (so much safer) and I was pleased to take second place to a Pro downhiller.
After the Super D we had several hours to get ready for the cross country race, so the three of us decided to hang out in Banner Elk and Dave cleaned our bikes. Another storm passed through and I knew we’d be in for a messy race. It cleared up momentarily and dumped again during my warm-up. We actually started the race in pouring rain! I was bummed that the promoters cut the race to 10 miles, but my feelings soon changed when it took about an HOUR to ride the first five miles.
Anina and I separated early from the field and it would have been funny to watch us battle back and forth in slow motion. Any trails with an incline were simply not rideable (it was difficult to WALK in the 4-inch deep mud!). I didn’t have much mud experience and learned quickly to lay off my brakes and just slide around. I was thankful that the course was so rooty because the roots were the only things my tires could grab onto!
It eventually stopped raining and everything turned to peanut butter. My goals became: finish, not injure myself or break my bike. I felt like I had ridden fifty miles instead of ten! Anina pulled out an excellent ride to take the W and I finished second, winning the Omnium.
The worst part was changing and cleaning up! I didn’t even know where to begin. My kit was stained and my bike destroyed from the mud. Brake pads were completely gone, bearings were seized..
Luckily I know a guy…
It was a crazy but awesome weekend. Pirate Race Productions did an excellent job and I look forward to entering more of their events. Thanks to them, Speed Cycling, Pro Bikes, Momentum Racing and Dave for making the fun times possible.
While Dave completely overhauled my bike I planned all the logistics for the rest of my season (in one trip!) and did as much for work as possible, ran a million errands, got in some speed training at the track before the storms cut the races short…then it was off to Wisconsin!
THANK YOU to everyone who has followed and supported my efforts! You are making it possible for me to follow my dreams.