Wildlife Prairie Park race

I'm not exactly sure when I decided that we should hit up the Wildlife Prairie Park IHRS race, but next thing I knew it was on the calendar. We weren't really prepared as far as "OMG, what about the kids!?" However, it all worked out.
We headed down to Kickapoo Township at about 8am. It was a pretty uneventful drive until Google maps had us on all these back roads, under I74 back under I74, where we finally took matters into our own hands and just got on I74.  Sometimes I really hate GPS directions.
Anyway, we arrived with not much time to get ready. Enough, but we definitely couldn't do anything but get dressed and warm up.
At the line I was surprised to see so many women! It's very rare to see more than three in the IL races lately.
Since there was no time to pre-ride I went into this course blind. I had no idea what to expect. The lead out seemed long (it really wasn't) and I wasn't sure when we dumped into the singletrack. I just remember thinking it was bumpy.
It wasn't long before we made the turn into some fun singletrack. I was a little more brake happy than I would have liked, but that's usually the way it is when you're unsure of trails on your first lap. I was really looking forward to my second lap knowing more of what to expect.  I was barely leading at the start of the race, but I felt comfortable. I wasn't pushing too hard, well, I was, just wasn't gasping like I was at the start of Palos or other races I've done. My stomach felt a little crampy but nothing that was too terrible... until it was terrible. It was like all of a sudden I felt like I was being stabbed. I tried to ride it out but couldn't so I slowed down. I let 2nd place go by in hopes that slowing down might let me feel better. It didn't. So I thought, okay, I'll just relax here for a bit and catch them. But no matter what I did my stomach just kept cramping. It was like sharp pains. The harder I pushed the more painful it was. Then I started getting pissed off. I really wanted to ride the trails. They were my kind of trails.
The second part of the course I didn't enjoy as much as the first. Especially never having ridden there before, and I guess because every rock made my stomach feel worse. I also, as much as I love technical trails like Blue Mounds and WPP, I don't enjoy racing them, but rather prefer riding. Anyway, I pushed through the first lap hoping I'd feel better on the 2nd lap.
I didn't.
I then asked myself what I was doing. I wasn't having any fun and my stomach hurt. I could barely ride and when I stood up I almost had to hunch over. So I sat on the side of the trail for a bit. I thought sitting would at least make me feel better to ride back to the parking lot for a DNF.  It didn't, but I went back anyway.
As I got to the car, I farted the longest windiest fart ever. Miraculously I felt better. I seriously can't believe that I was in that much pain because of fucking GAS!  In saying that, I've had a bunch of stomach issues this year, more times than I can count. Pre-riding Palos the day before the race I had a similar issue; luckily I didn't have any problems during that race.  I think I might start keeping a food diary and see if it's something that's triggering it.  But back to race day, I grabbed my phone and rode out to where I had ended my race to snag a picture of John. I could feel the gas pain coming back a little bit, but never to the extent of what I had earlier in the day.  The gas pain even made my back hurt, to the point I wasn't sure what was going on- stomachache? backache? both? or one causing the other?
Anyway, I hate a DNF. For a second when I think about it I get all mad, but when I then really think about it, there was no way I could ride let alone race. And when I did feel better, I wasn't up for 16 more miles well after last place went by me. I'm just not that motivated, especially almost 3 hours from home. Also, after a race I always enjoy looking at results and hoping people snapped some cool photos, but the DNF kind of takes the fun out of that.
I loved the trails there. They were fun. I'd like to ride them over racing though. I just hate not having the rhythm I want on that type of stuff. Besides it's just more fun when you can look around and enjoy what you are actually riding.  Especially there, it's very pretty, and cool.
Thanks to PAMBA for putting on these races. Everybody there is always kind and attentive.
Their hard work is very much appreciated.


2012 Palos Meltdown

©jeremey rodriguez
I think if you read my past few blogs it would seem the last Palos Meltdown was only days ago. I thought I'd keep this more up to date throughout the year, but seriously... if I could buy time, perhaps.
This year I haven't raced much. Sylvan Island and Black Partridge are the only races on my 2012 resume. Lots of things have kept me away- kids, family, money, bike, injuries, etc. It hasn't helped that the mileage of the IHRS women's cat 1 races haven't had me motivated to sacrifice anything. They are just way too long but that's a whole other blog post.
I felt obligated to race Palos. It's my home course, I guess, and I won it last year. It's just kind of expected I suppose. I wasn't looking forward to it so much because I haven't ridden near as much as I would have wanted to this year. The same things that had me not racing also had me not riding so much. I have no complaints though, accept for that bike and injury thing, but that's also another blog post that probably won't happen.
Anyway, I got my frame back from FORM the middle of the 3rd week of July. John and Ryan helped me build it up so I could get back on it asap. It took me a few rides to adjust, actually I'm still adjusting because I'm picky and anal. Then we went on vacation with my family. I thought I'd get a lot of riding in, which didn't happen. BUT I was able to get a couple rides in during that week that were pretty solid so I felt better about how I'd feel for the Meltdown. I actually wasn't dreading it and was sort of excited to see everybody and ride my bike.
Pre-riding the course the Saturday before I got some major stomach cramps which meant some other things. I was nervous I was going to be sick all day and not be in the best shape for the race. I've had issues with dehydration this summer and didn't want to deal with that on Sunday. Turns out a short nap and a good lunch was all I needed. Phew. There was a brief moment on Saturday where I thought about just hanging out with everybody and heckle people while drinking beer. I also had this same feeling Sunday morning. But I know how much I'd regret not racing. I'll save that for cross.
I don't think you could ask for a more gorgeous summer day. Mother Nature really took care of us.
We arrived well before our start and set up in our usual spot by this one tree.  I really like it there, but walking/riding up that hill throughout the day really sucks.  But it's just so crowded up top. But I also miss seeing people.
Before I knew it, I was getting dressed in my kit. I always hate this part. I forget everything- food, drinks, check tire pressure, blah blah blah. And I always have to pee multiple times. Warming up was super crowded. The FP car at the bottom of the one pavement hill kind of clustered things up, but it was mostly because there were people EVERYWHERE! I couldn't believe how many people were there.
I ran into Bos and headed to the start/finish area. Good thing I did as they started the race at least 5 minutes early! I wondered how many people were going to miss the start!? I knew of two people; I'm sure there were more.
Anyway, the horn went off and the grass uphill was not near as hard as I thought it would be. It was actually uneventful as my heartrate barely went up (well not near as much as I thought). Climbing up after bad ass hill is an entirely different story.  Leia, who eventually won first, shot around me near the clay hill.  Okay, I'm in 4th now, Liz in first, Holly in second and Leia in third. As I hit the grass hill to climb back up the comp men were already passing. HOLY SHIT. I wasn't expecting them until Turf which is where they caught me last year. It was a bit crazy for awhile. Patti passed me coming out of 4 corners. So I was in 5th. I dropped into Turf where I saw Patti off to the side, she was cheering me on. I hoped she was okay, but it was way too fast and unexpected to ask. At first I was right on the Comp guys, but soon there was a gap in front of me. I knew there was a guy behind me, I asked if he wanted to pass, but he said he was fine and he'd let me know. Okay. So I rode for a bit. I really wanted him to go by. Then I heard chatter behind me, arguing sort of. The guy behind him wanted to pass, the guy behind me was like then go.  I don't know if he expected him to stop or pull over or what. Anyway, it got to a point where I looked behind me and there were like 8 guys. Ugh. I don't want to be that person so I asked them to go by. I consider myself fast on Turf but not top comp fast. When they passed I felt a lot more comfortable.
Turf is probably one of my favorite trails, Psychopath is not- the first part anyway; once I crest that 3rd climb I actually do like it. Turn down Dynamite up into Three Ravines. I held my own with the comp guys for a bit then as it climbs after the second ravine (where I saw Liz and realized I was in 3rd at that point), I knew they'd be stronger than me so yielded a bit so they could get by. Luckily it wasn't crazy in there. Down into that gravel multi track which is so fun, up then left into One Day. I was feeling okay and dreading the middle of Gravity Cavity where lately I can't seem to power up. Liz So was behind me on her cross bike (you go girl) but unfortunately crashed in the berms and, I think, broke her derailleur. I made sure she was okay and headed up towards GC. As I was rounding up into there I heard the generator and I knew Anne was in there. YES! I fucking love that part.  I got an adrenaline rush from Anne, Mike, Ben and everybody else cheering plus the high fives, that the first part of the climb went by sooo fast; I slowed a bit on the second after the root up, but recovered again for the 3rd up. I was surprised I wasn't suffering too bad.
My race was pretty uneventful to be honest.  Except for 3 ravines on my second lap.  Coming into the ravines I felt like something was loose in the front end. I assumed it was my skewer but then had thoughts of my fork lower not being on. I locked it out and I didn't feel it anymore. I wondered about headset, fork issues, etc. After the first ravine I felt the looseness locked out and unlocked. I got off the bike and checked my skewer, it was fine. I got back on and started again and it felt loose. So I stopped and it was loose so I put it back on. Started heading down the drops into the second ravine and I thought my wheel was going to fall off. I stopped again on the jump and sure as shit my skewer was off... WTF! Very scary. So I used both hands to push that fucker on all the while hoping another woman didn't come screaming by. After that I never had another issue.  I've had issues with that skewer before. I'm guessing something is up with the spring getting caught and then uncaught or something. Time to replace.
Moving onto GC I grabbed some gummie bears from Ben this time as well as some high fives. First lap I didn't realize he had them and I just high fived him dropping the poor gummies to the dirt.
By the third lap I felt like I was by myself most of the time. I ran into a few dudes on Turf. I stayed behind some guys probably longer than I should and I did the same on the climb up Pscychopath. It's a sort of given that during the race I'm going to lose focus and think about ice cream and laundry. I'm content to ride somebody else's pace when I shouldn't be. So when I let Liz Shull pass me thinking she was one of the Elite men I was just like "WTF RACHAEL, not again!" And I was doubly pissed because my legs weren't even tired. So I got by her on 3 ravines and tried to punch it all the way home. I still grabbed some gummies and high fives on GC though. I did let off a bit coming around the corner not seeing her because then my legs were like wait, stop!  So in the end it was good, but I still am having trouble letting go of that mistake I make as I never seem to learn from it. Oh well, I guess that's just me. I should probably wear a HR monitor and set the alarm or something.
I was pretty happy with 3rd. I had no idea what to expect coming into the race only having raced twice and the last race being well over a month ago. I was also glad to not have suffered like I thought I was going to. Though maybe that meant I should've gone harder ;).
CAMBr did a most excellent job with the race again. A huge thank you to all those that volunteered their time to make a super fun successful event.