Monday, May 31, 2010

Richmond Hill Urban Mountain Bike Race

I'm going to tell this story out of order. First I'm going to write a post about this race, which was little and fun. Then tomorrow I'm going to write about what was arguably the bigger story, which is about the bike I was riding. Because it's really about the rides, not about the bikes... except when it's really about the bikes.

Friday afternoon I went up to Asheville to pick up my new ride from Carolina Fatz. I was kind of planning to tool around Bent Creek for a while to get a feel for it and dial in the fit. But at the shop I got reminded that the Richmond Hill Urban Mountain Bike Race was going on that evening. It sounded like it might be more fun than just spinning around in the woods alone for an hour, so I headed into town. I parked at Carrier Park and rode around town for a while dialing in the fit and getting used to it, then headed over to register for the race.

About fifteen minutes before the start I realized I didn't even know how long it was, and no matter what length it was I hadn't eaten enough for it. Not really planning to race that evening, I hadn't eaten much since the morning. Cruised back to the car where I had a couple cookies in my backpack, which was good but was not really enough food. This is what happens when you decide to race on the spur of the moment.

start on the Mellowdrome track. photo from the Pisgah Area SORBA report

The race started with two and a half loops on the Mellowdrome track, then headed out onto the walking paths of Carrier Park and then a few miles on the roads along the French Broad River. I was drafting along in a small group with 3 other women and some men. Then for some reason I decide to attack on the road and try to bridge up to another group. I get out in front and regret my decision immediately as the road gets more exposed and windy. Plus, insane! What was I thinking attacking when my competition was so strong? Why the HELL am I dumb enough to be out in front of Trish??? Who knows, I didn't really have any strategy on this one, just psyched to be riding my new bike.

After a couple miles the road gets steep and I was passed back by the rest of the women in the field. I deeply regretted my early attack, my lack of eating right all day, my complete ignorance of the route, my ignorance of the length of this race, and my general lack of recent training focus. And there was definitely a moment of wondering why the hell I'm going to Kanza.

I managed to get into the woods right behind Karen who was right behind Trish. We three passed Cara pretty early and I tried to keep on their tail. New bike was rockin. This is a really sweet little urban trail system and the builders did a good job of making the most of the terrain. This race was to celebrate the completion of these trails, and major props to them for a great job. Near the end of the first lap I bonked out pretty bad from all that early high pace and was again deeply regretting my general lack of planning. But it suddenly started dumping rain, which was pretty refreshing, and I felt better. I had lost sight of Karen and Trish, but I tried to keep on the gas in the wild hope that I could catch up. I never saw them again, and after my three laps on the trail I cruised back through the road section at a pretty moderate pace.

My brand-new kit got good and muddy.

Turned out through some miscommunication the two of them had only done two laps on the trail instead of three. They both were kicking my ass, but since they didn't do the whole race no one officially won the women's Expert category. Mike refunded all three of our entry fees, which was cool even though it was kind of a bummer not to have a real conclusive result. I definitely finished third-ish, even if the results don't say I was third. Entry fee refund, plus a free beer at the Mountain Sports Festival, was a great way to end the day. Luckily the brief thunderstorm at Richmond Hill trails had not even dampened the ground at Carrier Park, so we could all hang out and enjoy ourselves for a bit after the race.

This was a fun little race. The road and path sections were pretty creative, and it was way better to include all the different racing surfaces instead of just making us race ten laps on the tight little Richmond Hill trails. Because this is Asheville the local crowd included some really fast people, so it was a great race as well as a fun one. Good times all day.

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