2011 Palos Meltdown

It wasn't looking good for a race on the singletrack for this past Sunday's Palos Meltdown. I didn't even want to think about it. I had been looking forward to the race for quite some time. The thought of a multi-track race was just, um, no.
I was stoked to read Ben's text early that Sunday morning: "Full course!" I didn't realize how down I was about it until I read that. I just felt my face light up.
It's really nice to have a pretty big race 20 minutes from the house.
As we got closer to the racecourse the weather was nothing what I expected it to be. It was barely in the 70s and misting. At about 11:30-12 it pretty much rained. As long as we ran the full course it sort of excited me. I'm a decent technical rider so I knew it would be to my advantage.
I'm usually not that competitive, but I really wanted to do well there; so this past week I thought about what I would do knowing who my competition was. I knew I just had to stay with the girls who were super strong power riders and hopefully get around them as we headed down into Turf.
Start time, as usual, came before I knew it. The rain had stopped. The expert men were off and now it was our turn.
When John Vande Velde sent us off I missed my pedal. D'oh! I'd like to blame the fact that I had different egg beaters on than I'm used to (wider spindle), but I think I just missed my pedal. I watched Julia smoothly pull away.
We all came together again quickly as we descended down the grass hill. I passed Julia on one of the slick short ups as some co-workers were cheering me on. I then took the lead and wondered what the hell I was doing. I'm so not good in the open.
However I figured what the hell, I'm going to suffer in front or trying to hang on. I mostly just thought about busting my ass to get into the singletrack first. I knew if I got into Turf first I could hopefully put some time on them.
As I was just cresting the hill to head down to clay hill I shifted my chain up into my spokes. Really? I seriously don't even remember the last time I did this. I don't even think I've done it in my 30s. I hopped off and calmly pulled it off, but I think I still swore. (reminder: check hanger- remember I sheared my other one off just last week?)
Now Julia was right on my wheel, which I expected. She passed me on the grass as we started to go around the lake and up the hill. I knew I had to just keep her in my sight. At this point I had no idea what was going on behind me.
I pushed hard on the gravel to keep Julia close. I felt like I was getting closer to her and debated on whether or not to put the power down (haha) and try to pass or just be patient.
I seriously didn't know what to do.
After exiting onto pipeline I was glad I waited. I forget how long that section is of lots of pedaling. I also apparently pre-rode the wrong fork in the trail, as we went left instead of right.
There were two small drops. I was right on Julia's wheel. She got a bit squirrelly on the second one which caused me to go off trail. For a split second I almost hit the brakes to let her go by like I would on a ride. *shakes head. But shortly after I just thought "go". So I did. I, and whether or not it was true, thought Julia might not want to pass on the cupped singletrack. I know I would've been freaked. I'll ride down rocky root infested downhills, but those types of singletrack trails with lips scare the crap out of me.
As soon as we hit the road and I was still in front I was confident I'd get into Turf first. I remember coming flying down the pavement and flying into Turf the smoothest I've ever floated in there before and just felt awesome. The bike floated underneath me as I negotiated the slick corners and off camber sections. Once I crossed the creek I felt like I had a gap and could just grow it as long as I stayed upright. And then I lost my water bottle. It was so weird. I actually thought about going to get it for a split second. I climbed up Psycho as best as I could. That section of trail is always longer than I think it is. Finally the turn to head down to the ravines. Man I love that trail. I almost ate it on One Day as I misjudged that long root over the trail and slid down it until my foot hit the tree. Luckily that's all that happened. As I was entering Gravity Cavity Bos passed me, but not without acting like an ass. Obnoxiously calling out on your left, racer coming, etc. It was pretty funny. I had him ask some friends to have a bottle for me. He then said, I saw your Metal bottle on Turf and totally knew it was yours. Of course.
Second lap I rode well but, and I think I was in the minority, thought Turf got a bit slicker on my subsequent laps. Not the actual trail, but the turns for sure were more slick. It was pretty uneventful actually. I was just enjoying the ride. I really loved the course. It was really fun and hard, but not a death march.
Going into my third lap I still felt pretty good. I rode the flats and singletrack great. I just felt really bad on Psychopath just as you pass the fence and the second up part of Gravity Cavity. My legs yelled at me a bit. I wanted to move them faster but they just wouldn't respond on the steeper stuff. I pretty much kept on the gas the whole race; I had no idea how far ahead I was so didn't want to chance it. I just wanted to be done pedaling. Obviously I was excited to come in first.
Crossing the finish line and having a bunch of people cheer and come up to me was really weird. I've never experienced that before, I almost felt a bit awkward.
It was really nice to get the win on my home course! I didn't realize I knew so many great people! It was cool to see them all in one place.
When the guy from the Southtown Star came up to interview me after, the first thing I thought of was CAMBr. Great job to all. I'm still smiling about it today.

"nice face" photo © velogrrl
podium shot © Luke R


Chris said...

Congrats on a great race! Good job!

Tell Bos he's a big fat jerk.

The Klugs said...

I'm so sad I missed seeing you on the podium. you did awesome out there!