Susan A. took first (along with Megan) this weekend at Winter Park’s technical Point to Point race. Despite all her mechanicals, she pulled out the big W!
The unexpected win. My body was still recovering from Mountain Bike Marathon Nationals, I hadn’t been on my mountain bike for a week, historically I have never done well at this race and well…I flat out wasn’t in the mood to race today. I even tried to offer up my rear wheel to my husband who got a last minute flat during his warm-up ride, but it didn’t work.
3-2-1-GOooo and we were off. I was taking it easier at the start than usual, but I knew I didn’t want to get stuck behind anyone going into the single track, so I give a few hard efforts to make my way towards the front of the group of racers I was with. The first section, called Lower Arapahoe, was a little tricky and I wasn’t riding it well, but once I found myself on Upper Cherokee I was flying, trying make up the time I had lost a few minutes earlier. I got up to the racer who was in first place, Michelle (Avout Racing). I stayed on her tail for a while, backing off every now and again, but never losing sight of her. At the Vasquez Ford water crossing she had some trouble and had to dismount, while I was able to ride through it and pass her upon exiting the ford. Then we played a little cat and mouse, but she eventually pulled away from me. During the second half of the race, I dropped my chain six times while descending, two of which I could not get back on my crank simply by shifting the front derailleur, and so I had to stop to manually put it back on. It was frustrating, but not uncommon for this race, however I will say that six times seems excessive. I kept my cool and tried to make up the lost time on the flats and hills, which must have worked because during the last 2-3 miles I caught Michelle again.
We were on a trail called Flume, a rooted, rocky, twisty, and technical trail in the trees, with short punchy technical climbs, which are my strength. I passed her and then put the hammer down, and found that I quickly gained a slight gap. The trail popped out onto a jeep road before heading onto more singletrack. I looked back and she was closer than I wanted her to be and I knew I had to ride focused, smart and FAST. Again, I opened up a gap, but larger than before. However, even though it was a flat trail, it was loaded with roots and rocks and I dropped my chain for the sixth time! That horrible feeling of lightning speed pedaling with no traction is always sinking feeling. I couldn’t downshift to force it back on, so I quickly hopped off my bike, pushed my rear derailleur forward to provide slack in my chain, used my finger to get the chain back on my crank, clicked my left shifter and grabbed my pedal to rotate the chain around the crank to make sure it was on, crap! I did it too fast I didn’t get enough of the chain on the crank, so I had to do it all again. In the nick of time, I hopped back on my bike, did a quick look back and saw Michelle out of the corner of my eye. This was it, with very little remaining to the finish line, I had to give it all I had and not screw up. I crossed the finish line first and took the win. It was unexpected, to say the least and it felt good, but winning usually does.