©jeremey rodriguezI 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.