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Thread: MTB Nationals

  1. #1
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    MTB Nationals

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    Any other TEers heading to PA next weekend? In a fit of absolute craziness last night, I registered to race . DH is racing too, but he has a legitimate shot at a jersey. Regardless, it should be an adventure! Let me know if you will be there.

    SheFly
    "Well behaved women rarely make history." including me!
    http://twoadventures.blogspot.com

  2. #2
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    How awesome! Looking forward to the race reports!

    Veronica
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


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  3. #3
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    Well, now that I registered, I'm having panic attacks! Stalking the competition, trying to get course intel, looking up weather forecasts (WICKED HOT and thunderstorms - yay). The butterflies are starting already, and I don't race until Saturday!!!!

    What. Have. I. Done???????

    SheFly
    "Well behaved women rarely make history." including me!
    http://twoadventures.blogspot.com

  4. #4
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    Re: MTB Nationals

    That's awesome! I think a few nerves are good for the race. You'll do great!
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  5. #5
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    Relax and enjoy the opportunity - worry only about what you can control. The weather will be... whatever. Take the right clothes for all the variables. Don't worry about your competition. You have to ride your ride. Do recon the course, Will you get a chance to preride it?

    I know you know all this. You are strong and awesome!

    Veronica
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  6. #6
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    Thanks to both of you! Yes, V, I do know all this, but it's easy to let it get blocked. I know that you know that too! We are heading out on Friday and will get a chance to preride the course when we arrive. Racing is Saturday - 8:00 am for DH and 10:30 for me. Then, it's all about watching other people (that is, the Pros) make it look easy!

    SheFly
    "Well behaved women rarely make history." including me!
    http://twoadventures.blogspot.com

  7. #7
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    I just think it's so cool you're going to Nationals, wish I could be there to cheer you guys on.

    How's Mike feeling about it all?

    Veronica
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  8. #8
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    Thanks. It is pretty cool.

    Mike has a legitimate shot at a jersey. He has been racing and riding really strong. He has checked the competition as well, but doesn't show any outward signs of nervous. His comment to me when I express how I am feeling is that it is "just a bike race"... I don't believe for a MINUTE that's what he really thinks about it though.

    Here's some seriousness - no beer since Friday. He didn't even do that for Worlds in Louisville this year!

    SheFly
    "Well behaved women rarely make history." including me!
    http://twoadventures.blogspot.com

  9. #9
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    No beer... that's pretty serious.

    He's lucky he gets to race so early. I hate that tris put the "old" chicks last, just makes the nerves get worse.

    Veronica
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Veronica View Post
    No beer... that's pretty serious.
    Exactly! And yes, he is lucky. And I race right after he does, so it actually works out [sort of] well. We will have lots of friends there who will be willing to help out, too. I'll let you know how it goes!

    SheFly
    "Well behaved women rarely make history." including me!
    http://twoadventures.blogspot.com

  11. #11
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    Deep breaths, SheFly.
    You have the right attitude.
    Have fun! (hey, that worked with a 16 year old).
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  12. #12
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    I'll be pulling for you, SheFly!
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  13. #13
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    SheFly, how did it go?
    LORI
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  14. #14
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    Sorry -it's been a whirlwind since Nationals! This is a LONG report!

    That was, definitely and without a doubt, the HARDEST. RACE. EVER.

    DH and I set out from the house on Friday morning en route to PA. The temp when we left at 5:45 am was already over 90, and it was only going to get hotter. We were lucky enough to be able to navigate around any rush hour traffic in Hartford, CT, as well as skirting those heading into NYC for work, and the drive was pretty uneventful. The only thing was - no rest areas between CT and PA! Holy heck!

    After just over 5 hours, we arrived onsite at Bear Creek Resort in Macungie, PA. Blazing sun, high humidity and temps over 100 greeted us as we got out of the air conditioned car. It didn't take long for our clothes to get pretty wet. We headed over to registration to pick up numbers and check out the scene (racing was already underway). The venue was pretty impressive, although distinctly lacking in shade for spectators on such a hot day. Many were forced back inside the lodge to the shelter of the AC.

    We caught up with friends along the way and heard over and over about the course. I was quickly becoming pretty intimidated by the accounts of how technical it was, and the fact that the descent was "no joke". I tried, however, not to let my nerves get the best of me before I had even ridden the course to see for myself what it was like.

    The official schedule had time for warmups after all of the racing for the day was done - at 6:30 pm. Given the heat, we didn't really feel like hanging around all day, and decided that since others were getting out on the course in between junior races (they used part of the course we would race, but not all of it), we would try to do the same. Kitted up, and hit the trail just before the 2 pm waves were to start.

    The good news is that I have FINALLY convinced myself that I can climb . We started up some pretty rocky singletrack close to out of the gate. I liked the climb - a good mix of technical rocks and roots, as well as some open/cross slope areas and some flat sections. The course went almost to the top of the mountain, descended some technical singletrack, ,and then climbed on fire road back to the very top.

    From there, we encountered A LOT of rocky trail, some bridges (which I cleaned! I hate bridges), and more rocks as we started to descend. This was really technical, but I was riding most everything and thinking that I wasn't sure what everyone really had been going on about...

    Just as I had that thought, we hit a pretty gnarly section of rock and bridge that gave me some trouble, but was still ok. And then we started "the descent". I went from thinking that this really wasn't so bad to "OMG - what am I THINKING?????" Steep, rock-filled descents that scared the pants off of me had me off the bike and running. I later learned that at least I wasn't the only one . There were also a couple of 180 degree switchbacks, going downhill, filled with rocks. Yeah - those were going to give me trouble...

    The last part of the course was filled with even more gnarly rocks and roots. This course was not going to be a complete test of fitness, but an equal test of skill. We finished and I was even more nervous - the course didn't suit my ability.

    After changing and getting some much needed hydration, we decided we'd stay for a bit to watch some friends in the Master's races. We watched them all start, and were just heading back to the car when the skies opened. I can't IMAGINE what that course would have been like in the wet.

    Saturday was race day for both of us - DH at 8 am and me at 10:30. Temps were a bit cooler, but still in the upper 90s with a good amount of humidity. All along, my focus has been on DH and his race. He has worked really hard all season and his racing form has been amazing. I believed, as did others, that he had a legitimate shot at taking home a new jersey at the end of the day. In fact, I told someone there that my race was really irrelevant . I wanted this so badly for him.

    We both kitted up and prepped for our races. DH gave me VERY explicit pre-race instructions: what to eat, what to drink, when to do both; stay out of the sun; stay off your feet... It was a lot to remember I was also going to be in the feed zone for him - while we both race with a Camelbak, having another bottle on a hot day might be needed.

    I saw DH off to staging, and line up, and watched as his field took off for their 3 lap race, happy to see him enter the woods in 2nd place! And then, I lost it. The emotions were so high that I couldn't hold it in. Thankfully a good friend was nearby and helped to calm my nerves. Knowing it would take about 40-45 mins per lap, I headed to the shelter of the lodge, put up my feet, ate some food and waited. After about 35 minutes I decided to head into the feedzone to be sure I was there when DH came by. I stood with good friends supporting other racers, and we joked and cajoled about the race. And then the racers started coming through. I knew the number series for DH's age category (there were SEVEN separate fields all on the course at the same time), and started watching for the leader. There goes one, then two, then three, then four and no sign of DH. More racers in his field went by, and still no DH. My panic grew. Did he flat? Did he crash? Was he hurt? I got a report that he had passed a friend on the course and he was still in second. That had to have been early, because now a large portion of his field had already gone through the feedzone, and still no DH. I started to lose it. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, he came by. He had broken a spoke AND his chain on the first lap. My heart broke and I literally broke down in tears.

    DH soldiered on past, and the next time through the feedzone I could see that he had made up a significant number of places. He yelled to me to let air out of my tires before starting - the tire pressure was too high. Yeah - um, I don't do that . I decided to wait until he had finished and let HIM do it instead - I would inevitably end up letting out too much air.

    Attrition in the men's races was high - between the heat, the pace, technical issues and injuries, over 25% of the racers who started didn't finish. And the lap times were significantly longer than anticipated causing two results - 1. my race was delayed from 10:30 to 10:45, and 2. instead of 3 laps, we would be racing just 2 (HOORAY!). As I finished prepping for my race, I continued to watch the finishers from the men's race.I watched as first, second, third and fourth place in DH's race went by. And then, to my utter delight, came DH! He had battled back from his mechanicals and being near last in his field, to finish 5th overall, and on the podium! He was ultimately disappointed, but I am really proud of him for his determination. Many would have quit, but he fixed his bike, and continued on. In fact, he had two of the faster lap times of the field on the second and third laps of his race. He didn't end up with the jersey, but put in a really fine effort.

    A quick hug and kiss, and a request for him to let air out of my tires, and I was off to the staging area for my race. Like the men, there would be seven fields of women on the course at the same time, though many fewer of us than them . In my field (45-49) there were 9 starters. I had obsessed over the points, each racer's results and the race prediction... Two of my competitors were known entities, but the rest were mysteries - women from CA, PA, OR and CO. Surprisingly, I was predicted to finish 3rd (HA! predictors are often WRONG!), so ended up getting called to the line second . We all wished each other good luck and safe racing, and the countdown to the start began - 1 minute, 30 seconds, 15 seconds ...

    When the whistle blew, my race brain kicked in, and I found myself with the hole shot. Yup - it was 800 degrees, we were racing for all the marbles, it was a course that didn't suit me, and I was OFF. THE. FRONT. The good thing is that this let me lead through the first part of the course, seeing the lines, and choosing my own way through, controlling the pace. There weren't a lot of places to pass once we got into the first section of woods. At one point, the woman behind me was just a bit too close, and as I took a corner more slowly than she would have liked, she bobbled, causing mayhem behind me. This game me a small gap, and I just put my head down to continue moving. Unfortunately, the effort was VERY quickly catching up to me - my HR was over 171, and I was beginning to feel like going out that hard was probably not the smartest thing. Just then we hit a wet, rooty, difficult uphill section and I bobbled. Five of my competitors passed by, but I thought I was still ok - surely someone would end up coming back to me.

    I continued on, now alone, able to see where I wanted to go. At a rocky technical downhill, I hesitated, and now another competitor passed. Ugh - this was not going well. On the final climb to the summit, my back started to cramp - I downed a gel to try to stave that off, and took neutral water at the top, worried I would deplete my Camelbak too soon in the heat. Later, I bobbled another section, and another competitor got by. I'm pretty sure I was now in last place. And then, I saw one of my competitors/friends on the side of the trail. "You ok?" I called. Sadly, the person who was predicted to win, had a flat and would end up walking out... Determined, I continued, hearing DH's "Ride your race" in my head.

    Leading into the nasty, gnarly downhill section there was a HUGE crowd of VERY loud spectators. They were encouraging people to make it up a tricky climb,before the real descent began. As I approached, the noise was distracting me as I attempted to negotiate a tricking downhill with a dropoff at the bottom. Sensing my unease, someone from the unruly crowd yelled out, "Silence!". You could have heard a pin drop. I was oh so grateful to whomever that was! Unfortunately, I still didn't make it down the dropoff, or up the next hill, but the encouragement there was overwhelming. I ran much of the downhill since it was pretty scary, hopped back on the bike where I could, and continued on. After the descent, things got pretty tricky with rocks and roots, and I about wanted to cry at that point! Thankfully, a woman in the SS category caught me, and she and I shouted encouragement to each other through the remainder of the lap.

    DH was near the end of the lap to take pictures and shout encouragement as well. In one of the photos I look as if I am saying "Do I really have to do this again?" In reality, I have a "too stupid to stop" gene, and there was NO WAY, barring an unfixable mechanical or an injury that I was going to quit. Through the feedzone I was looking for my bottle handup, but it was with DH... I managed a neutral bottle, and was back on my way for lap #2.

    The second lap for me went better than the first in that I rode more than I had the previous lap. I was pretty excited about that, and proud of myself, too. Again, DH was on course late in the lap, which was awesome. in the final section, I talked my way through, congratulating myself for everything I was riding, talking myself INTO riding certain things, and telling myself it was almost over.

    After 2 hours, I had done it. I raced in my first ever MTB National championship, and I SURVIVED! No crashes, no mechanicals. I didn't quit. I didn't meet my goal (I secretly was hoping for at least a podium), but I was happy with my result. In the end, I finished 7th of 9 starters.

    Now I think it's time for some non racing before CX season starts next month.

    I'll put a couple of photos in the next post.

    Thanks for all of the support!

    SheFly
    "Well behaved women rarely make history." including me!
    http://twoadventures.blogspot.com

  15. #15
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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Oops! I got the hole shot!

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    Do I really have to do this again?

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    Yup - it was rocky!

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    And this corner? Never made it...

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    Happy to be finished!
    "Well behaved women rarely make history." including me!
    http://twoadventures.blogspot.com

 

 

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