Susan, our resident endurance mountain biker, went out for the Battle of the Bear 50 miler coming away with the third fastest time of the day for the ladies! Read her detailed report here.
The alarm clock goes off, I roll over…yuck 5am, already?!? I want to hit the off button, roll over and go back to bed, but my guilt gets me out of bed. I wander downstairs, turn on the espresso machine and find the detailed list of things I need to get done that morning. It’s a detailed timeline of my morning routine and items to take with me to the race. I force myself to eat, even though I’d feeling like vomiting all over my kitchen floor…race nerves. Focus on something else…okay…it’s a beautiful morning, looks like it’s going to be a great day for a 50 mile mountain bike race, plus I have some calories to burn (oddly this tactic helps me get over my race day nerves).
Running on time, but it always seems as if I’m running late…again race day nerves. I confirm with myself that I truly am “on-time” and not to worry. I arrive at the venue; get my bike ready and warm-up. At the starting line I’m looking around and don’t recognize anyone. Random thoughts are popping in and out of my head; I see a woman on a CX bike…impressive I thought to myself. I quickly redirect my thoughts to focusing on my start: am I in the proper gear, do I go for the hole shot, how much is this going to hurt?
We’re off and I sprint and win the holeshot (first racer to enter onto the singletrack), which is my preference since I do not know the technical abilities of the other racers. Going hard but not too hard, after all this will be a long race and I need to save some for later. I find that three of us get a small gap on the rest of the pack. At first it looked like we were going to work together, but that didn’t last. One of the ladies pulled ahead during the first lap, but I reeled her back in, while all the time having another racer on my wheel. I found myself in the lead for 3.5 laps, stupidly letting the other racer sit on my wheel. There was a time where I thought she started to drop off, but the next thing I knew she was stuck to my wheel, like white on rice. It was my fault, I let her sit there not working. She was analyzing my every move; she knew my weaknesses and my strengths. I knew nothing of hers, except she was one smart cookie to hang on my wheel and let me do the work. I told myself I like it this way; I work harder with someone pressuring me from behind…I couldn’t be more wrong, but yet I let it happen. She knew exactly when to attack me and when she did, I didn’t respond. Frozen in time, I saw her pedal away in disbelief. Finding myself discouraged and becoming fatigued, I started to battle with holding my pace. I had to work hard to keep my head in the game and keep going, then surprise, a racer sneaks up on me with five miles to go. She passes me as we start the climb, this time I stay on her wheel but we get stuck behind another racer who was suffering. The rutted trail made it difficult to pass, she goes left, loses her rear wheel, but saves it. I say to myself I have to pass this guy, so I pass to the right, but by that time she was at the crest of the hill. I was about 15 seconds behind her, which is a lot of time in bike racing. On the next and longest climb on the course, she gained more time on me and I lost sight of her due to all the switchbacks on the trail. By now I was counting the miles to the finish and happy that I was almost done as my legs were on the verge of cramping. I have to be proud of myself for achieving the third fastest time of the day amongst all the women’s groups, but I am furious with myself for allowing someone to take advantage of me and not fighting hard when it was important.