Shot number two on the Pro XCT series. Less nerves this time, not having a break down in the car on the drive to California. Kevin and I get to Fontana in time for a little pre-ride. It goes fairly well, better than at Bonelli. I start to worry at first with some of the techy, steep stuff; but going back out for a second lap I stayed positive, rode everything and enjoyed the trail. This was a real mountain bike course unlike Bonelli where someone cut sandy trails on the side of a hill in a park. This had technical rocks to climb over and roll down, there was flowy singletrack with brush standing taller than I. This race will be enjoyable regardless of my position in the pack.
So off the start line again its like these girls are on fire! I just can not get my legs to sprint out there from a dead stop like that and I again find myself at the back of the pack. Geez. But, I feel better today. I feel like I can climb up these hills, so I push forward and catch onto the back of the long line of ladies heading into singletrack. The big dogs like Lea Davidson and Chloe Woodruff, among some others, are off the front and disappearing. There are some of the same competitors as Bonelli and there are some new faces. I manage to pass a few women on the grinding road climb and hit the next singletrack ahead of them. Of course, I’m still turned up a little too high inside and am feeling a bit squirrely…I bobble over a rock and step off the bike. The girls are close and I must allow them to pass. I run back onto the bike and ride right back up on the next girl’s wheel. She topples off her bike over the next set of rocks and I’m off behind her. All but a few still far in the back are getting away. I manage to get back on to ride around her, she doesn’t quite make it off the trail far enough and I have to lift my left hand off the bars while weaving thru a couple of boulders. It was anything but graceful…but I managed to make it…just to slide out and onto the ground in the next corner. Dammit! This is the fourth race in a row I am sitting in the dirt. It sucks and only means something I’m doing is not right. I am not interested in a job as dirt sampler! I’m tired of being on the ground. I pick myself up before the girl behind me catches up and continue onward. The rocky descent goes well. I ride all of it and even catch up to the Canadian gal ahead of me; however, she realizes I’m on her, speeds up and just vanishes. How does that happen so fast?! At this point, I start to settle into the fact that I am here somewhere in the rear of the race and I’m ok with it. I’m not last. I push as hard as I can when I can, I make the technical rock sections and I enjoy the flowy singletrack sections. I start having fun…this is important…this is why I do this to begin with. The laps go by. I see girls just ahead, start to gain and then lose a little ground; but they are always there. The steep hills get harder and I have to hike it up the last steepest section. I miss the rock drop section on the last lap and have my foot down. When I hit the road for the last climb, my chain comes off. I can’t get it back on and off the bike I am again. I fight with the chain as its stuck between the frame and chainring. Finally getting it loose, I start climbing and the woman I passed 2 laps earlier is right behind me. She catches me on the fenceline flat and rides my wheel. I am exhausted. Completely exhausted. What happened to all that endurance I used to own? She goes around at the top of the last incline and I let her go. I ride thru the finish line in 13th place out of 17 starters.
Today, I was schooled… I learned how to let go of the ego that says ‘you shouldn’t be last out here’ and found that I could have fun regardless once that happened. I learned that some have no choice but to ride in a park surrounded by industry and smog. I think its fantastic that there are these trails for people in the urban sprawl to enjoy; I also am feeling extremely grateful to live in a place where I can ride out my garage and into the middle of nowhere in as little as 15 minutes. To live where there are blue skies 360 days a year, with views sometimes 50 miles around, surrounded by mountains and wilderness. I have also learned that I may never teach my body to be a sprinter and that’s exactly what these races are, all out sprints. It’s completely different than any of the races I’ve done, including Nationals last year in Ketchum, ID. My body make-up is primarily slow-twitch muscles, I know this. I like to grind for long periods of time, get into a groove and stay there. I have decided that I am not in a place in my life to try and change what I am good at, what my body and mind understand and enjoy doing. I am also not a quitter and I plan to finish everything that I have started this year. I will not hide from the challenges I have placed in front of me simply because I found out I’m not as good as I thought I was. I am proud that I came back out to another one of these races in the series and did the best I could there. I also know maybe next year I will be choosier in what I race, I tried to fit so much into such a short time to figure out what I like and what I could excel at, it may have been too much. Maybe less is more. Less events, bigger mileage. We shall see what the future brings. One thing I do know, is that there is a great bunch of women racing out there! Always with words of encouragement, willingness to help out or to teach. I have, thus far, had a fantastic experience with my fellow racers and it really is encouraging and motivating more women to get out there and strap a number plate to their bikes. I hope I can be as inspiring as they one day.
Next week I’ll be back at it again on home turf in Prescott AZ..MBAA #5.
I want to give a tremendous thank you to my husband, Kevin, without whom I wouldn’t be able to do any of this. His never-ending support with bike maintenance, driving, training; his huge bank of knowledge, giant handfuls of patience, ever-lasting positivity and unconditional love is so incredibly appreciated! His excitement, cheers and motivational call-outs around every lap help keep me going thru some very tough races. I really have the best hubby around!
I also need to be thankful for Oro Valley Bicycle for being supportive of me regardless of where I finish. They have been there thru many a broken rim, last minute emergency fixes and getting that hard to find product that I just can’t live without; as well as handing out encouragement with each new challenge. I couldn’t ask for better care!