Wednesday, April 8, 2009

SERC #3, Tsali, NC

Because of various schedule issues I ended up not joining the rest of the FM crew for camping and pre-riding on Saturday. Instead I left crazy-early in the morning and got to the race venue about an hour and a half before the yellow wave start. Just enough time to get my number plate and spin up and down the road a few times to warm up.

This race was a good lesson for me in how far I can push myself. None of these XC series races are on my personal "race schedule" and I couldn't afford to taper for this race. The day before the race I did a 5-hour training ride, and rolled up to the starting line intending to stay moderate.

But I was in the last start wave, and after watching everyone else go off by the time we were set to go I was ready to RACE. Any thought of holding back my pace disappeared as soon as I heard the start whistle.
2 seconds after the start... right about when I
finally started taking the race seriously

(photo by Chris. ckdake.com)

By the top of the first climb I was sitting in fourth, then passed two riders at a switchback at about mile 3. I rode in second place for pretty much the rest of the race, keeping first place in view but only passing her once on a climb then being passed right back. From that point she set the pace and I just tried to keep contact.

Somewhere in the first couple miles I lost a full water bottle when I passed a singlespeeder, which meant I only had a half bottle (I had already been drinking from that bottle before the start) and a gel flask to rely on for most of the race. I was worrying about cramping since the pace was fast, the weather kind of warm, and I had all my electrolytes in the bottles. But I kept the pace up, knowing there was a chance I could bum some water from someone in the feed zone after the first 15 miles. And I did! I saw my friend Jeremy's girlfriend and she hooked me up with a fresh bottle of water that probably saved my race. Finally getting some liquid let me keep the heat on almost all the way to the finish, only finally losing sight of the first place woman in the last mile.
another awesome photo by Chris

I spent most of the race wondering whether I was going to blow up from keeping such a fast pace. I was definitely hurting but the legs never gave out. If the Cat 2 race had been any longer the miles in my legs from Saturday would have definitely come back to haunt me. These trails were fast and very fun, and the course conditions were nearly perfect. It was great to have a good race after several in a row this winter where I was either sick or got a mechanical. I was really happy with how decent everyone was out on the course too. We passed singlespeed and Cat 2 men with ease even in tight areas and a number of guys said "go get her, girl" and other encouragement when they let me around.

Big props to Debbie for her first place finish, she is amazing and really pushed me to ride stronger and harder than I thought I could. Also props to Shanna for finishing 4th on a singlespeed and for her whoops and hollers of joy which echoed across the racecourse.

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