The Battle

Hmmm... where to begin.
(WARNING! This is long.)
We left Friday afternoon for the border of MN and WI. Our newly-bitten-by-the-mountain-bike-bug neighbor Ryan tagged along with John and me for our not-as-long-as-I-thought-it-would-be haul to River Falls, WI.
We pulled to our hotel just shortly after 9pm Friday night.
We grabbed some quick grub at Chipotle and then settled into our hotel room.
Jerry and fam wouldn't be up to pre-ride til around 3 or so on Saturday, so we needed to figure out something to do with our morning.
I thought we could hang with Brent, but I didn't know his phone didn't have email; so my email inviting ourselves to his place went unanswered. So instead we went to Fleet Farm and then made the trip to Mall of America. We just walked around really. Hung out with the Bubba Gump shrimp, explained to Ryan that everything at LegoLand were really built with Legos. After getting bored with the mall we grabbed some Dairy Queen and headed to the course to meet Jerry.
I hate pre-riding. I don't know why, but I always feel like crap. I couldn't breath, I couldn't ride the singletrack. I was starting to get really annoyed. Especially since I upgraded. Anyway, I ended up only doing two laps as I felt dizzy, chilled and just all around crappy. I think I was just really dehydrated.
Afterwards we all headed out for some pretty good Mexican. Then I think everyone fell asleep, early. Except me. I was watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It's such a different movie watching it as an adult.
Anyway, woke up at 5:30, 6:00 and then finally just before 7am. I was starving. Waited around a bit for Ryan to wake up and then grabbed some breakfast.
Then to the course. Ryan was racing Citizen and we hadn't registered him yet.
Brent showed up shortly after we did with his girlfriend Nicole, Hurl and Kelly. It was good to see them all.
Sitting around all day had its pluses and minuses. But I love the atmosphere and the people at the races so it's definitely more plus.
Ryan ended up having a great race! He finished 1st in age and like 14th overall. It was his second race ever and he's only been on a bike for just over a month. He's totally hooked.
After heckling Brent for a bit and him grossing us all out we all started getting ready to race. I wasn't really nervous, I'm not sure what I was. I know I dreaded the start. I dreaded the comp men a bit.
Don called up everyone but 3 of us girls. The start wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. However once we got to the start climb I didn't really look up. I didn't want to see how long it was or how far ahead the girls were ahead of me. I just wanted to ride my own race and finish. I caught the back part of the elite women right away. Back up from the bridge. It was nice to recover there. I still had a hell of a time getting my heart rate down from the start to settle into a pace. I didn't really settle until the second lap. Which I guess is usual; except now instead of two laps to go, I had a whole sport race in front of me.
While on lap one I thought about quitting many times. My lower arms went numb, I couldn't catch my breath, I was sweating like I'd never sweat before. I knew the comp guys would be coming soon and when they did, it wasn't as bad as I prepared myself for. 2 caught me right away and then there was a huge gap. Then a couple more and then they just kept coming. But I never stopped. I moved over on occasion and sometimes I probably yielded more than I have to, but I'll get more confident as time goes on. I never had an incident really. Only with an elite guy. More on that later.
Lap 2 was probably my best lap. It went by pretty quick. I rode with a lot of comp guys in the open sections, were on their wheels in the singletrack, it was fun.
In my third lap (which was another fun lap) near the switchbacks I knew a group of elite guys were coming. There really isn't a great place to pass on those climbs. I hesitated going up the first one and ended up having to put my foot down. A dumb moment of indecisiveness and I had to wait for the small train to go by. Not a big deal, but next time I just have to go for it. You don't necessarily lose a lot of time, but you definitely lose momentum and your groove. Later on the wicked fast awesome downhill I heard a rider coming up on me. I assumed it was a comp guy. Some of the comp guys were slower than I was on the descents so I didn't want to give going first up so I dropped in. I realized that it was an elite rider. I felt bad, but at the same time I ripped that section every time. Right after it opens plenty for a rider to get by. It ended up not mattering. So I really only felt bad because I did have a moment of indecision and he was probably like WTF woman!
I had caught Renee at one point. She was a little out of sorts from crashing on the bridge... still though, it was a small victory for me. I know how much stronger she is than I am on the ascents and open. I ended up losing site of her on the 4th start climb.
My last lap is where I made my biggest mistake. I didn't eat. I knew I needed it. I knew it was in my back pocket. But for some reason I just didn't grab it. I'm sitting her typing this and don't get my thought process. As the lap went on I felt myself fade because I needed to eat. I remember telling myself well it's half way over whatever. But really FUCKING EAT ON THE LAST LAP! I know this. I won't make that mistake again. I know not eating cost me time. Especially when it's a distance I'm not used to doing. I knew I wasn't as strong in the singletrack, etc because I was hungry. But I'm not going to beat myself up over it.
As far as the elite bullshit pass... I was climbing up after the switchbacks and an elite racer took a pass right between a tree and the side of the trail, where I had nowhere to go but off my bike. The other elite rider that was following him and now behind me yelled "Nice pass!" to him. He looked at me and was like he really could've waited a few seconds. I ended up having to walk the rest of the way as it was a little too steep to get on and pedal.
In saying that I had an awesome time. It was hard (it's supposed to be) and it was good to feel like I was racing again. Sport was still challenging for me I suppose. I mean it's not like I was killing it there; there are more then a few sport women stronger than I am. I needed a different challenge I guess. I'm not sure how to explain it. Being stuck behind the old guys and clydes was getting old. It's such a back n forth decision- the move up. Not sure if it was the right one... but yesterday was positive and I hope Lake Geneva is too.

Thanks to all the elite girls who gave their advice. And thanks to all the sport girls for cheering me on and making me feel good about my decision. It was awesome to hear my name all over the course!


Sara said...

Way to go Rachael! You're a stud.

amelia said...

seconded! we all knew you'd rock expert just fine.

Sonni said...

Great race! It was awesome watching and cheering for you. Weather permitting I will be at Blue Mounds Sat--I hear lots of climbing--a fun way to get the hill/strength training in. Maybe see you there??


spicyride said...

Thanks ladies! Sonni, I wish. My cousin is getting married Saturday. I love that course.

Angie said...

Great race ... wish I could have been there to cheer you on!

MTB Girl said...

Awesome, AWESOME job. It was great to see you tearing it up out there. :-)

The Klugs said...

Awww you're a big girl now! I knew you'd kick ass..

Christine said...

Glad you made the move! Fun times ahead.

velogrrl said...

Congrats on a great race and on the move up!

mtbVegan said...

I wish I could have been there to race with you. Lake Geneva for sure. Awesome job out there!!