Race Blogging

For some reason I had been really looking forward to the Illinois race this past Sunday. The race was held at Black Partridge Park in Metamora, IL. Being able to ride trails has been pretty intermittent this Spring, so I think a race held rain or shine gave me an excuse to get out there and ride my bike in the dirt regardless of weather.

On the way to the race I was almost a bit ho-hum compared to how I felt earlier in the week. Maybe it was nerves, I don’t know. The forecast wasn’t calling for rain, so I was stoked about that. However there was some rainfall at the course that morning. I was a bit nervous about my tire choice. I really think I dislike the Bontrager 29.2. The side knobs fill with mud and don’t clear, which then have absolutely NO traction in turns dry or wet. They are advertised as a loose over hard pack tire, so I guess the wet isn’t what they were made for, so I shouldn’t hate.


The Cat 1 women were initially supposed to do 3 laps of the 8 mile mostly singletrack course (same as the cat 1 men)… which meant I’d probably be out there for well over 2 hours. I was looking forward to the fun miles, but at the same time not really looking forward to it considering how hot and muggy it was. Not to mention it wasn’t dry, so lap times would be slower than last year. Which, yeah, get over it… but coming from 50s to 80s and humid is a bit rough on the body. Anyway, a couple of the girls petitioned the race director and we were cut down to 2 laps. I had mixed feelings, but it was going to be fun regardless. I unzipped my Metal jersey, so I wouldn’t be fumbling with the zipper in the singletrack, and lined up behind the men.

Us Cat 1 gals actually started in the pack with the Cat 1 men. I was a bit apprehensive about this at first, but it worked out pretty well actually. I was first woman behind all the guys. It was a fairly short lead out on the grass which then dropped us right into some downhill benchcut singletrack. Way awesome trail. The Cat 1 dude right in front of me was going a bit slow for my liking but it was difficult to get around him with all the creek crossings and bridges. Eventually I was able to sneak by him on a rooty climb. One creek crossing was very steep. It was like a wall to get out. The guy in front of me didn’t make it and I had to slide back down. I panicked trying to get up. It was so muddy and slick I couldn’t get a foot hold. I was just waiting for the women to come barreling down on me while I tried to get out of there. Finally I made it up the first of three switchback climb sections completely redlined and breathing hard feeling like my head was going to explode.

It took me a long time to settle, almost the whole first lap. With having asthma, the humidity and the fact I wanted to ride fast was causing me some breathing problems. I had to keep talking myself down; I felt like I was hyper-ventilating. Breathe Rachael, breathe. Finally I was able to settle down and enjoy the rad singletrack. And rad it was. Super tight, tons of log crossings. I felt like a Jedi floating between trees and dipping into little g-outs. I did end up at one point sliding out on a bridge (plank really) and hugging a tree, but I don’t think I’ve ever come away from a race completely unscathed.

Before I knew it the first lap was over. That ride on the grass was the hardest part of the race… I was pushing my gears so hard, but felt like I was going nowhere.

Second lap had me looking over my shoulder a lot. Betsy usually beats me when I race with her, usually after catching me after I’ve led most of the first lap. I could hear the sport guys coming on some occasions and feared Betsy, or another Cat 1 gal, was with them. I just kept pushing. Lungs settled, legs were good, I felt great all around. I was dreading that steep creek crossing, but not having anybody in front of me I floated right up it. What a relief! I was a bit more confident knowing the trails, not to mention they had dried out some, so weren’t as slick in the corners. It started to get pretty dark in the singletrack as it appeared a storm was rolling in; I almost had to take off my glasses. All I could think about at that point was how slick it was going to get if the clouds let loose. It started to rain just as I was exiting out of the singletrack on my last lap for the finish.

My first win in a very long time, and maybe my first one as a Cat 1. I was pretty stoked.


vegan said...

"or another cat 1 gal." You're so funny. = )
Awesome job on the win! Christopher had an awesome time playing with Zoe and Casey. And, I some how found his little toy gun that he lost in the morning.

spicyride said...

Thanks Gina.
Mom's can find anything.