Standing on the starting line at an OBRA race, you recognize almost every face. You know what you are up against. You have expectations for yourself. This race was different. I only knew one face, that of the Mighty Megan Chinburg . We stood next to one another, at the back of our field. We didn’t get call-ups, we weren’t noticed. Then the gun went off. Oregonians are tough, and we raced that way. Though the rock garden and onto the single track, we were 1 and 2. SWEET.
The amateur course was about 14 miles in length. A 2-mile start loop and then 2 laps of a 6-mile course. 3 miles up, 3 miles down.
Up the single-track climb, I was charging, when I could. I was catching women in the field in front of me, requiring a dismount, bike-push, attempt to pass, remount, charge. Catch, slow down, dismount, push, attempt to pass, remount, charge. You get the idea. Toward the top of the single track climb, I had a pretty clear path in front of me and I was really trying to move. I didn’t know what my gap was, but I hadn’t seen anyone for a while. Then, out of nowhere, a women in my field, the eventual winner, came charging by. She was cruising. I tried to stay with her, but she was on fire. I just couldn’t push the pedals that fast. She ended up winning by almost 6 minutes. Decisive to say the least. I hit the double track, shifted down and stood up. Legs were burning, but the downhill was just around the corner.
Descending isn’t my strong suit, but I am improving and I was really pleased with the way I rode the downhill section of the course. I was having FUN! I didn’t know how far ahead the leader was or how far behind my chasers were, so I just stayed calm. I hit the flat portion of the course and stood up. Hammered through the rock gardens and began to climb through the forest for the second time.
Lap #2 unfolded pretty much the same way as #1. Except, I was fatigued. When I had to get off my bike because I caught up with someone, I didn’t remount as quickly. I had trouble getting my feet back into my pedals as my legs were shaking and unsteady. There were 3 girls walking up the hill. “Riding….I’m not in your category” I yelled. They didn’t budge. They were slowly trudging up the trail and the steepest part was right around the corner, no chance they were going to start riding.
STAY CALM. I would just use this as a chance for a little recovery, get past them when I could and then charge. Getting off your bike and trying to hike/run/walk is NOT recovery. I passed them as soon as I could, but charging was not in the cards. Keeping the pedals spinning was all I could do. The double track climb signaled about 1 mile to the top. I picked up the pace, got in some calories, and stayed focused. Downhill to the finish.
After Return of the Jedi race, I was frustrated because I felt I had “lost the race on the downhill”. Whether or not that is true doesn’t matter, what matters was that I was not going to get caught this time. I didn’t.
I almost didn't come to Sun Valley because my ego was getting in the way; learning to slap yourself in the face, screw your head on straight and toe the line is sometimes the most difficult thing about racing. I am newly inspired by what I witnessed last weekend. I am motivated more than ever to develop and grow as a racer and as person; to celebrate our community of cyclists and to learn from those who are so willing to teach.
|Me, and the National Champions, Don and Brennan
And, of course, a trip to Idaho just wouldn't be complete without a ride at Fisher Creek.
|Dana, Brig, Mer, Don and I getting ready to ride!