My cross country race is a wrap . My weekend of mountain bike racing at the Sea Otter Classic is in the books. I’m still standing – and grinning. The dirt is so much fun.
When I started the race today, I was nervous (again!). This time my nerves had more to do with my concern about what I would do if something went wrong out on the course – if I flatted or had a mechanical – rather than how I would stack up against the rest of the field. The SRAM cross country course wasn’t especially technical. There were a few sections with ruts where I would have to be sure I kept my head up, but I knew exactly where they were and was easily able to safely negotiate through them.
Ten minutes into the race, we hit a steep rutted out climb. It was so steep that people were riding really slowly, and it quickly got crowded, which meant we didn’t have a lot of options for choosing which line we wanted to take. As people slowed down, it had a domino effect on the second half of the field. Those of us (which included me at this point) in the back ended up going too slow. Because of lack of speed, the person in front of me put a foot down, so I had to my foot down, too.
Climbing is my strength – descending? Not so much. I really can only make up ground on the uphill section, so having to unclip probably cost me a little bit. Eventually I was able to settle into a rhythm, and I got going okay. I started picking people off one by one.
Towards the end of the race, I was trading spots with Allison Mann (B4B/RNR). She finally got me on a climb and was able to hold me off for the final spot in the top ten. I ended up in 11th place – squarely in the top half of the field. Nearly in the top third of the field, actually.
It was super hot day – a hard day but a good day. It was one of those races where I was definitely ready for the end of the race despite how much fun I was having. I would come around a hill and think I was almost to the finish only to crest the top and see another climb in sight. Then, I would come around a turn, sure that I was approaching the finish, and there would be more trail.
I also was having some back issues that impacted the second half of my race. My back started to tighten up, and I had to back off quite a bit. It hurt to pedal any harder.
All in all, it was a solid weekend. I loved getting kudos from everyone at the finish line that was impressed with the way I raced – or that I was out there racing mountain bikes at all. It was fun racing with a different group of girls this weekend.
Of course, I know there are still a lot of areas where I can improve. Clearly, I’m not super fast on the descents yet – and if the course had been technical, my weaknesses would have been more exposed. That’s why I’m out here. I’m racing mountain bike to isolate the areas that need improvement and work on them. The more I’m on the mountain bike, the more I’ll see improvements.
I have a stint of road racing upcoming with Joe Martin Stage Race beginning next week and Tour of the Gila the following week. After that, I’m slated for more mountain bike racing at Teva Games in early Junes – and I’ll either race Ironhorse or Exergy the weekend before the Teva Games.
I have to give a special and heartfelt shout out to Cal Giant, Specialized and SRAM. Their support this weekend made my transition from the road to the dirt seamless. They are the reason I was able to go out there and have fun.
Full results from today’s race can be found on the Sea Otter website.