Got there in plenty of time and signed the waiver. Then ran into a girl from work who I didn’t know would be racing. Then spent a while just chatting with people and waiting for it to be close to time.
Finally made my way to the start line (a short bike from the car). On the way, found that my front brake was rubbing worse than ever! So I just unhooked it. Seemed like the best plan — the ride to the start was uphill 😉 However, it didn’t seem like a good plan for the whole race. I knew some of the single track sections, and that I’d want a brake for ’em! Actually, I was a bit worried about one of the single track sections. It was part of a run I had done a few weeks before with Paul, and it wasn’t really runable for me (up or down) and we’d be riding down it — plenty of loose sand, rocks, and ruts. But it was near the end of the race, and I’m still getting to the start line… so more on that later.
Anyways, made it up to the start area, turned into the parking lot/warmup area, and found myself facing Mike (not my Mike, but another cute one I know through Foothill Cyclery and who worked there some and helped get my tubeless tires to bead when the other shop guy was having trouble with them). He is a semi-pro (qualified for pro and will be upgrading for next season) mtn biker, so I was wondering if I’d see him there. Said hi, talked a bit, and then he fixed my brake! Yay! It only took a second and an adjustment on a single screw. So yes, I had a front brake for the race, which was a good thing!
Soon enough it was time to line up. The beginner women were the last wave (with the Jr riders). An uphill start with a climb from 7000′ of elevation to 7600′ in just over 2.5 miles. Only the very start was steep, and then it was fireroads and nothing too technical. Next was a bit of rolling hills, and in that part, at about mile 4, there was a guy riding that I was stronger than (as his heat was 2 or more minutes before mine). He was in the middle of the fire road, a bit to the left, and staying there. So I called out “on your right!” and went to pass him. I got to where my handlebars were even with his, and he pulled to the right and hit me, throwing me off the bike! Getting up, I hear him say “You pushed me into soft sand!” All I had to say to him was “On your right doesn’t mean go right! Be careful!”. I got up, and rode off, leaving him behind and not wanting to deal with it. There were 2 packed sections on the road there — one to his left, one to his right. If he had hit me as I started passing, or had swerved in front of me as I called on your right, I wouldn’t have minded as much, as then it would have been just bad timing for my pass. But the fact that I was even with him meant I had been passing (it was a big uphill) and that he’d had time to register my “on your right”. Plus there was a track clear on his left! So I put it down to him having poor handling skills and picking a bad line. He hit sand, jerked in reaction, and hit me next to him — instead of seeing sand, knowing I was on his right, and picking the packed line to the left. Either way, my knee got to pour blood for the next 14 miles (and a while after that as well — I think it has mostly stopped now though — still got a doc apt for it in a bit).
But I just kept riding. I love the section of single track that was coming up, and had a blast going down it. Passed a few more people, and knew I was in front of the only people I knew were in my class. During that single track, I also passed Roger, who then caught back up to me on the climb (first part paved, then dirt) that followed. We chatted a bit (turns out he knows people I work with) and just enjoyed the views and beautiful day (while working our butts off). We soon met up with Mark as well, who I had been parked next to and chatted with some before the race. The three of us ended up riding somewhat together for the rest of the race, alternating who was where, and chatting on occasion. We enjoyed some great single track climbs and rollers and generally had a great time. I hit a bush, and missed the good line on a climbing turn after a view distracted me) and they mocked me for it. Fun times 🙂
As we approached the end, I was still feeling pretty good so I pushed it a bit on a climb and they fell a bit behind. Then it was onto a gorgeous single track that rolled through trees and was just technical enough to keep you focused. But I knew what was coming, and it soon did: the trail that had been scary on foot. The first downhill section with loose sand and rocks I rode down, telling myself it wasn’t that bad and couldn’t be quite the part we ran yet. But some how I was able to keep telling myself that down the whole trail. I walked 2 or 3 little sections, mostly because my arms were shaky from breaking so much and trying to be relaxed. But each time I climbed right back on and got going again. Suddenly there was tape, and people, and I heard “don’t let him pass you here!” so I pushed a bit, and crossed the finish, turning to see Mark right behind me.
After cheering Roger in a few minutes back, we road back down to the registration and parking area, put bikes away, changed, and went to check results and awards and food.
So a single crash and some great views and fun people made for a good day. As a bonus I was first in my class (out of 4)! Woo! I got a medal! I was about 20 minutes in front of the next person in it. And then as an extra bonus the manager of a team I talked with about a year and a half ago (shortly before crashing and breaking things) was there and told me to get back in touch with him as he is trying to build up his women’s team for next year.
And then, more bonus, there was a raffle with the big prize being a cruiser bike and I won it! But I didn’t win it… which is ok. I had seen it as I was there, and was surprised that was the prize at a mtb race (and am not a big fan of that style of bikes). They called my number and I thought I heard it, but I was in the middle of talking with the team guy and trying to clean my knee out, so by the time a friend poked me and said it was me and for the bike and I got to the front another number was called. So instead they gave me a consolation prize of a set of Kenda tires. Which I will get more use out of perhaps (although they aren’t tubeless ones, so we’ll see).
But yeah, a good day, and hopefully I’ll be doing more in the future!
GPS of my race is up at motionbased.