Janet scores a Cat 1 podium spot for the Naked Women’s Racing Team at the Burn MTB XC TT race. Any race that combines TTing, MTBing, and Uphill simply sounds painful!
On a race day morning there’s a moment in waking when your feet touch the ground and you do a body inventory: are my hamstrings the tight knots they’d been for three days? Did I sleep enough? Did I do anything stupid last night? I woke on Saturday with relief that the hike up Mount Shavano had finally healed, my hamstrings were mobile, and I’d avoided drinking a martini or three the night before so had slept fitfully. I looked out at the soft twilight over Denver as the dog ran in circles around my legs and thought I’m going to win.
The route, drive, and morning routine and breakfast are all inconsequential. These are dreary details that you might find fascinating, but even your coach would yawn to hear. Since I don’t have a coach I will yawn at them myself. One detail is of consequence, I’d lost my inhaler and it was hot out. I have asthma, its mild at best, but that day this was a notable detail.
If you’re not familiar- The Burn is a mountain bike time trial- so it started with a quick chat at the time clock with the USCF official, and then I was off in my big ring. My legs felt good at the start and I eased the downhill since I’m not a hotshot downhiller. It turned up to the first climb and initially was hot to go until my asthma kicked in. I’m going to win, I thought, audible wheeze, and guessed my oxygen sats were around 70 at that point. Wheeze, I’m going to win, wheeze. Yes, it was a bit of a buzz kill, but I kept it up as eventually the adrenaline would kick in and I’d get relief. Sure I couldn’t breathe, but my legs were still working. You have to stay optimistic, right? I slammed a rock or two in hypoxia, I’m going to win, I thought. Gasp.
Then I passed two women, then a couple more. The wheeze stopped. I was in the middle ring going up that sandy climb in the burn and feeling alright. Maybe I would win? I still kept it in my pocket. I was almost to the top and a woman caught me and passed me. Shit, I’m not going win, I thought. But at least I had someone to chase and a reason to keep it red-lined. I followed her until she disappeared up the last big climb. Thunder rumbled overhead and dark round clouds billowed low. A wind picked up but I didn’t notice as my legs cranked the hill. I passed a few more women. I’d wanted to keep it in the middle ring but caved halfway up and slipped to my small ring and spun it for my quads. On the apex of the hill I clicked up to the big ring and give it all I had. We crested into trees kneeled forward and a raging headwind that knocked a lot of steam from my engine. Shit, I thought, go legs, go and I cranked until they screamed and somehow made it around the lake. Alright, so I didn’t win, but I gave it all I had and I podiumed. I’ll win next time.