Tsali Challenge

Oh my, it’s been a while…Finally…a Tsali Challenge race report and a return to blogging!  Moving left me with very limited internet and just when I was beginning to settle in, life and a whirlwind start to the cyclocross season completely took over in a big way!  More on that very soon, but I digress…

It seems like a lifetime ago, but at the very end of August I returned to racing at the Tsali Challenge Off-Road Triathlon.  After the Windham World Cup my focus shifted away from mountain bike racing.  I led my usual weekly mountain bike group rides, contested the sprints at the local Ring of Fire crits with the men…thought about cyclocross a lot..

I hadn’t planned on moving or racing at that point but I did both within a week.  A few days before the race I was invited to join the Nantahala Outdoor Center’s woman relay team for the second year in a row and I couldn’t pass up a chance to defend our title!

Our team was almost identical to last year; Brandy took Liza’s place as our runner:

1. paddle (Maria) 2. trail run (Brandy) 3. mountain bike (me)

It was nice to return to Tsali as I hadn’t been back since the the first SERC race in April.  Same as before, my stomach was causing me a lot of distress, though I’ve resolved most of the issues I used to have.  Maybe it is something about Tsali?  Haha.  Anyway I had plenty of time for my stomach to settle as I was the anchor for my team.

Maria had the largest handicap on the water but she is a beast and quickly picked off those who started before her:

Maria drilling it

She put us in a great starting position and handed off the “baton” to Brandy:

smooth transition!

Brandy on the run

her biggest fan!

Meanwhile I warmed up, but stayed close to the transition area at the trailhead as I didn’t want to miss Brandy coming in.

ready to ride!

I was pretty sure that we were winning the women’s division after my teammates’ efforts so the pressure was on to bring it home!  Nothing is certain until the finish line.  I got to practice my cyclocross mount out of transition and I was off to a fast start.  The course followed the left loop first (opposite of how I normally ride it) so it was fun to have a different perspective of the trail.

Tsali never disappoints with its fun, fast, flowy trails and the race was a blast!  I had done a tough track workout the day before, but my legs and stomach cooperated.  All of the stress from moving was shut out of my mind.  My aim was to put in a hard time trial effort and pick off as many men as possible!

For under an hour all that mattered was my bike and the trail; I finished strong and happy for the fourth fastest overall bike split:

We won the women’s division by over 17 minutes and finished 7th out of 40 teams!  Not too shabby.

Best of all we won a child-sized trophy!

It was an honor to represent the Nantahala Outdoor Center on their home trails!  That was a very difficult time and I was totally stressed out; an unexpected race turned out to be the perfect relief.  Thanks and congrats to my teammates for a fun day!

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