April 12, 2010

Hornings Hustle: XC Oregon Mountain Bikes Series, Race #2

Don, I have to say it again… You were right!  Every time I get on my Trek Fuel EX, I can’t believe how much fun I am having. 

Last year I didn’t ride my mountain bike more than a handful of times; for a variety of reasons. 
1)    I was uber focused on road racing; convinced that was the only way to prepare for cyclocross season.
2)    My mountain bike was heavy as lead, didn’t fit me quite right and to be perfectly honest, it was incredibly frustrating.  (When you don’t ride your mountain bike, it is hard to keep up with those that do, resulting in a frustrating experience you don’t want repeat. hence, not riding my mountain bike.)
3)    Lack of confidence….. mostly derived from reason number 2.

So this year, I began the cycling season with a new perspective; spinning from the lessons learned during cyclocross season.  My technical handling skills need some attention and I can’t descend.  Well, that isn’t exactly true.  I can’t descend quickly.

Needless to say, I got a new mountain bike, I put the Oregon XC Mountain Bike Series on my race calendar and I started riding my mountain bike. 

Mountain Bike Race #2: Hornings Hustle.

Notoriously muddy, I didn’t really know what to expect, but when I spotted Alice and Sue at the start line, I knew it would be fast.

The Sunnyside Crew was out in full force, sporting our flashy new colors and happy to be spending time together, as a team, supporting one another.  The Pro/Cat 1 Women started 30 seconds after the men and by the time we hit the first hill, we were catching and passing a number of them.  Alice, Sue and I all hung together over the first climb.  I was surprised to be there, but the pace was manageable, so I just sat in and pedaled.  I stayed close behind them until the first “more slippery than snot” downhill, grabbed a handful of brake and went straight over the handlebars into a mud bog. 

“Nice Serena, very nice.  What are you doing?  Get up.” 

I remounted my trusty stead, quickly realized my seat was royally jacked, pointing up to the sky.  I wrenched on it for a moment, straightening it out just enough to make it ridable and with a few more words of self-defeat, got back on my bike.  Alice and Sue were gone, but no other women were in sight. 

The next downhill was a total mind game and as I tried to reclaim a bit of self-confidence, I surprised myself and was able to keep some speed and ride strong through the creek crossing and catch a couple guys on the next muddy climb.

Each lap I felt better; better lines, less brakes, more power on the climbs. I didn’t see any other women for the rest of the race.  Sue and Alice were a couple minutes ahead of me and were able to sneak in another lap before Chris Sheppard lapped them.  I got lapped close to the finish and was pulled after just 3 laps.  But, my 3 laps were good enough for 3rd overall and 1st Cat 1.  I’ll take it and as Mary McConneloug reminds me, “Keep Charging.”

Thanks to Matt compiling all these photos….. enjoy!