Honestly, the thought of squeezing in another race prior to starting treatment never EVER crossed my mind until last weekend after two fabulous, complication free mountain bike rides had me feeling happier and more focused and relaxed than I have been in weeks. Not that I have been going around moping, but the prospect of racing my bike added a skip to my stride and an extra big smile on my face. I started to tell a few friends that I was entertaining the idea and as the week passed became more and more excited.
The fact that I had done no structured training and absolutely no race-effort intensity since 12-Hours of Mesa Verde in May wasn't ideal, but I also knew that I had a solid training base and fitness doesn't just disappear. At least that is what I hoped.....
Well, we almost didn't even make it to the race venue as there was a semi-truck on fire blocking the Eastbound lanes in Parley's canyon. Fortunately we were able to squeeze through after being stopped for 45 minutes and made it up to Park City just in time for a short warm-up prior to the slightly delayed race start.
The race: USCS#3-Round Valley:
The Pro Women's field was small, just me and Erin. A few pro girls had traveled to Montana for the Pro XCT race and a few were either stuck in Parley's canyon or didn't want to deal with the interstate jam. Regardless, Erin is a formidable competitor, she has had an outstanding season, and finished less than a minute behind me after five hours and 50 miles of racing at the True Grit earlier this year. She is also super nice and I was psyched to be racing against her. We started off pretty slow on a dirt road into a really strong headwind. I tucked behind Erin for a few seconds and she tucked behind me for a few as well, but for the most part we rode fairly side-by-side into the stiff headwind. I led into the first singletrack climb and noticed that I had a small gap by the top. This gap seemed to open even more on the next downhill, but Erin was never far behind. I tried to ride the next 26 miles smoothly, efficiently, and consistently never letting off the gas, but never attacking as I was not sure my lack of recent high-end efforts would allow me to recover.
Temperatures were perfect for racing
(photo: Chris See)
and the Park City backdrop is always amazing
(photo: Chris See)
I spent most of the race going back and forth with some of the Expert Men. Normally I would just attack and try to drop them, but today's strategy was smooth, efficient, and consistent.
Based on the amount of dirt on my face, I clearly ate a lot of their dust, but
I also got a nice draft going into the headwind on the final lap.
(Photo: Chris See)
On the final lap my legs started to cramp. After two hours of racing, the intensity finally took its toll.
I focused all my energy on keeping my leg muscles relaxed and turning the pedals over.
Photo: Lisa Palmer-Leger
After just over two hours of racing, I took the victory!
My legs immediately seized and I couldn't walk for about ten minutes.
It was totally worth it!
After the race, a friend compared my resiliency to a dandelion. You can tear me down, dig me out, spray me with chemicals and I just keep popping back up. Hopefully, stronger and more beautiful than ever. Here's to my 2013 mantra: I am a dandelion!