Category Archives: MTB
If the Kokopelli Trail hasn’t made your bucket list items, it should! Read about Melanie‘s experience over the 4 days on the legendary trail.
We considered ourselves prepared as we rolled out from the trailhead of the Kokopelli Trail in Loma, just a few miles west of Grand Junction. But really, we had no idea what lay in store for us. The Kokopelli is a 142-mile route from Loma to Moab, Utah, and it includes everything from singletrack, to jeep roads to pavement. You’ll see spectacular mesas, skirt the edge of the La Sal Mountains and camp alongside the Colorado River.
Our group did it in four days, one of the most common options. Even then, we rode 30 to 50 mile days, which took the strong group about five to eight hours each day. Our group of five was lucky enough to enlist an enthusiastic support driver, who met us at pre-arranged campsites each evening.
Day 1: Loma to Bitter Creek: Singletrack bliss and hike-a-bikes
I knew the first day was only 32 miles, so I mistakenly thought it would be a cinch. The first 12 miles is mostly singletrack on the well-ridden Mary’s Loop.
Next came arguably my least favorite part of the trip — the hike-a-bike portion, which the group would see a lot more of on Day 3.
No one warned me, probably because they knew I’d throw a fit, but be prepared to be carrying your bike for nearly a 1-mile stretch (it seemed like a million miles to me, but that’s what the odometer said.)
Next, we made up some time by cruising a big dirt road leading in to Rabbit Valley, which sits near the Colorado-Utah border.
The day ended with a short but treacherous climb to the top of a plateau, where we were rewarded with a spectacular sunset view from the campsite at Bitter Creek.
Day 2: Bitter Creek to Dewey Bridge: Leaving colorful Colorado
Some might call this 45-mile stretch boring, but I found it thoroughly enjoyable. You’ll cruise into what was once the bottom of an ocean eons ago. This section gets quite windy, and that element combined with copious amounts of sand slowed us down. My friend dubbed it “Sandopelli,” and we spent the first 20 miles with our heads down, pedaling hard, drafting in a single file line like a group of Tour de France riders on a breakaway.
We climbed into the beautiful and isolated Yellow Jacket Canyon, a route that starts with the desert mesa you’ll probably be accustomed to by that point and ends with a sandy descent and a hint of Utah’s famous red rocks.
Day 3: Dewey Bridge to Bull Draw: Into the forgotten valley
This day was 37 miles and not only treated our group to leg-breaking elevation gain but chilling cold. I forgot to bring my walkin’ cleats, because there was more hike-a-bike.
I know, you can’t wait to go, right? However, our group was also rewarded amazing views. You’ll ride through Fisher Valley, with the statuesque Fisher Towers in the distance, red cliffs to the side and a sea of yellow grass before you.
Day 4: Bull Draw to Milt’s Stop & Eat: A well-deserved meal
This day was a cinch compared to the epic Day 3. We descended and climbed the rolling La Sal Loop paved road that sits above Moab, and while most routes take you down a dirt road into Slickrock, our group decided they deserved a little singletrack. We took the famous Porcupine Rim and officially ended the day at Milt’s (a famous Moab eating establishment) for burgers, fries and shakes.
It’s hard to believe our road season is done and cross has really just begun! You know what also is beginning? Planning for your team in 2015! Naked Women’s Racing, in it’s 5th year, is open to race team applicants through October 1st!
Think you want to join? Read more about why you should on our Race Team page. Now are you ready?
Think you *might* want to race but not sure you want to dive in head first? Then you should totes join our Club Team!
Got questions? Email us at info [at] nakedwomenracing.com and we’ll be glad to help you out.
Natalia not only raced her first full season, she did it on the road and the mountain bikes! Read about how she dove in head first, what she learned, and what she is taking on to next year!
It’s hard to believe that road racing season is over. To get ready for the season I spent countless hours in the saddle and endured every possible weather condition on the planet. I have ridden my bike in temperatures ranging from freezing to triple digits, rain, snow, hail, gusty winds, sand and thunder storms, but I loved every minute of it. Well, maybe not at the time, but the thought of getting stronger always kept me going. I really believe cyclists must be the toughest athletes out there. We love riding our bikes so much that the elements never stop us and many times when we find ourselves in the middle of nowhere discovering new roads with no cell phone coverage, so quitting is not an option and we have no choice but keep on pedaling.
For me this was my first full year of racing so I didn’t know what to expect. Racing and leisurely riding are two completely different things. I tried all disciplines from road racing, time trialing, crits, hill climbs, and even mountain bike racing. I have been cycling most of my life and I love climbing mountain passes so I thought this would be my strength. I did some mountain biking in the past and bought a new bike not thinking much of it. I didn’t even consider racing it when I bought it. The last mountain bike I owned was about two decades ago and the technology has advanced quite a bit since then. My new toy has huge 29-inch wheels and when I ride it I feel like a little kid again. It has full suspension, disk brakes, and it’s just so much fun to ride so I thought I would try racing it because why not. As the season begun, I quickly realized I didn’t enjoy hill climbs, not only because I would get dropped but it was so painful that I wasn’t able to enjoy the beautiful scenery around me like I did in the past. My goal this season was to overcome my fear of crit racing but unfortunately my first crit ended early due to a crash. Luckily my injuries weren’t serious, my bike was ok, and I was able to race the next weekend. I didn’t want to end my racing season early so I didn’t take another chance. I’m hoping to forget about this unpleasant experience so I will try it again next season. Time trailing wasn’t my favorite but I will definitely do more of it again next year. Road races can be intimidating as they typically are longer, but I discovered that this was my type of a race. I am not a sprinter or climber; however I have good endurance and can push myself after riding long distances. I also learned the importance of working with teammates and even your opponents and how to strategize in order to win. I just wish we had more road races here in Colorado. After taking my new mountain bike for a few short rides I signed up for 18 Hours of Fruita. I never raced a mountain bike, I never rode at night, and my bike was barely broken in. I recruited three other teammates to join me and we ended up winning the race. I was hooked! The race was a lot of fun and not as intimidating as I expected so immediately I started thinking about my next mountain bike race. I ended up doing three more races and I not only loved it but placed well which gave me a huge confidence boost. Now I can’t wait to do more races on dirt.
After reflecting on the entire season and analyzing each race and its outcome I really surprised myself. The races I thought I would enjoy the most and do well at, turned out to be my least favorite ones, but I always try to find a positive in each situation and I treated them as training rides for the races that mattered to me. The races that intimidated me the most turned out to be my best ones and most enjoyable. I also participated in several organized rides throughout Colorado. Even though they weren’t timed, whenever I wear my Naked kit my brain tells me it’s racing time. Therefore I have to remind myself that it is ok to slowdown, breath slowly, take in the scenery, chat, and make new friends.
If you are new to racing or intimidated by it, don’t dismiss it as you won’t really know until you try. It’s better to fail at something than to miss out on something that can potentially be your strength only because you were afraid you would finish last or embarrass yourself. I remember how nervous I was just pinning my first number to my jersey. I stubbed my fingers several times and now I get less and less nervous each time I do it. Soon I will be able to do it with my eyes closed. But don’t get me wrong, I still get anxious at the start line but I just focus on the finish.
Winter Park Point to Point can be tough when coming from sea level. Read more about why you don’t quit racing from Michelle, even if hypoxic.
I learned a valuable lesson today. Don’t leave Colorado for 3 weeks, cease riding your bike, and be parked at 700 feet above sea level in Washington. If you want to mountain bike race and not be miserable, you cannot lose the time on the bike (lesson learned the hard way). Coming back from Washington on Wednesday led me to the ridiculous idea of taking my family camping in Winter Park so I could race the Point to Point race, one I have never done. Not sure the husband was keen on my idea of packing up the family 2 days after a 3 week stent gone, but I got everyone on board. Hurray!
My team mates and husband rave about this course so I was excited to ride the new single track they put in on WTB. The trails around Winter Park are some of my favorite and I will take any excuse to come up and ride. Looking forward to my second Expert level ride (well maybe not totally J), and feeling a little less than prepared in my training… off I went. Oh well, should be fun right??? That’s why we all race!
Well it didn’t turn out like I expected. Lining up with Joan and Susan at the start made me feel a little better but I knew I was in for a butt whooping today with my lack of ride time. Off we go! I wasn’t dead last up to four points or even over tunnel hill (a total goal of mine today not to be dead last). Feeling not so great, but better than expected, I rode on. Start the violins here! By the time reached the midway point every expert rider had passed me and I succumbed to the idea I was dead last, which became quite a humbling experience. The cramps set in up Tunnel hill, I ran out of food and water by the top of zoom (my own fault) and grumpy despair set in. I hate to admit it but I have never wanted to quit more on a race in my life but every time I wanted to, almost everyone who passed me (all those lovely expert gals and sport men) kept throwing out all these super nice pick me ups which kept me peddling through (that’s why I love mountain bike racing). Numbers not letters right?
I was humbled today but super happy at the finish line when my team mates, husband and kids were all cheering me at the finish (thanks everyone). Joan and Susan had great races finishing first and third…go GIRLS!!
Bucket list item…check!
As I neared 40 last year I started having these crazy ideas on riding my first 50 miler mtn bike race (crazy things happen when you turn 40). Training started in January amidst snow, rain and wind all over the mountains of Golden. I was determined to finish this race, letters not numbers right?
I woke up that morning with a tumbling stomach and nerves like I have never felt before. We loaded up and headed for the start line in Breck. I checked and rechecked everything and we headed off after peeing (sorry but true) 80 times from nerves; nothing like a race to cleanse the system. Apparently you lose brain cells at elevation. As I prepared my bike I had the realization I forgot my Garmin…REALLY! The thought of not knowing myr time and mileage for a 50 mile ride would be horrible… but what was I to do? I called back to camp and my dear friends said they would try and save my day and try to get my forgotten Garmin to me. I knew it was a long shot but crossed my fingers. I lined up super nervous at the start (which mind you is in the middle of the Breckenridge Fourth of July Parade) and looked to the crowed with 2 minutes to go and here comes my Garmin (THANK YOU!!!! Volker and Karen). Riding the parade through town was great fun and helped calm the nerves… and then the suffer fest began up the long steep road to the first single track. These girls were not messing around after we exited the parade. I pushed a lot harder than I thought was wise but I was able to keep up. We hit the first single track and I knew I was in 3rd place, hopping I could hold that for the next 40 miles. The single track was fun and fast until we hit the famous French Gulch climb slash hike-a-bike. I thought everyone was kidding when they said almost everyone walks this part…REALLY?? Well it’s true, I only saw one person try and ride French Gulch the rest of us pushed our bikes and complained about how steep and miserable this part of the trail is. Reaching the top it is a fabulous feeling and provided a fast, technical decent for miles that makes you smile. We had a great group of Naked Women riders and there is nothing more inspiring on a ride like this to have your team mates cheer you on way out in the wilderness of Breckenridge (this was much needed on lap 2).
I reached the park feeling tired but pretty good and I was holding my third place position. I have to say, lap two holds its challenges as the teams switch riders and you get passed by all these clean, fresh, happy riders who only started on their suffer fest while you are in the depths of the ride. I just needed to survive lap two…keep moving… finish. The wall hit at mile 40 and I slowed my pace but kept moving. Mile 42 was a heartbreaker as I was passed by that gal I passed 30 miles ago…REALLY! I tried with all my might to keep her in my sights but lost her in the next mile. I just lost my 3rd place position (insert violin music here). There is nothing sweeter than coming down the last switchbacks, hearing the crowd cheer and arriving at the finish line. Friends and family cheering you on, tired and exhausted, but happy to have made it. Two minutes behind 3rd place was a little harder to swallow. I am addicted to the endurance rides and the Firecracker is on my list for next year and maybe the Honey Stinger.
The Breck Epic in my mind used to be this race that Id never ever consider until this year. This race is a 6 day stage race all over Summit County on trails up over the ski resort and all over covering pretty much all the single track trails in Breckenridge. There’s a good reason we call it Bikenridge we believe we are blessed with some of the best trails. there is nothing better than going out for a ride and creating new loops it all seems endless sometimes.
I decided to race but only for the first 3 days so I guess you could say I was Epi-curious. I went in so nervous not knowing how my body would feel racing 3 days in a row, luckily I was around a house full of winners the whole time. Literally everyone in the house was winning or on the podium for there own category. It was so cool as I learnt so much from these professionals from calorie intake to stretching and recovering your legs daily. Not to mention being around others who are racing the whole time is just good because everyone is on the same page.
Day one I was a nervous wreck felt sick to my stomach not knowing what to expect also not knowing exactly who I was racing against so I just rode my race trying to catch who I could and pass them, I honestly didn’t think I did that great but i turns out I did. So that night I received the leaders jersey, Jennifer Barbour who is also on our team podiumed too which was so awesome representing Naked Juice. Its so great to see familiar faces on the podium. That night I had an idea who I was racing against which was great to know mentally, I’m still a nervous wreck about the next day and how its all going to pan out. Man!! this race is hard.
Day two I got stuck in the middle of the pack on the start line so I was freaking out about getting ahead before the single track started hmmmm next time when I have a leaders jersey get in the front was on my mind. Raced my race looking for the ladies I was up against but didn’t see them so I just carried on racing and trying to pick off ladies on the not always an easy task. day two was a long day especially on a hard tail but ya just soften your grip and relax at this point I was thanking my stars that I only had one more day to go after. My legs felt pretty good so I just pushed through any pain and carried on till till the end also having tons of fun on the single track ploughing down the mountains trying to not let anyone pass me. That night I won again yeaaaaa I was super happy to receive the leaders jersey again, Jennifer crushed it again in 3rd on the podium. AWESOME we are all holding our spots so we have to hold on to it now.
Day three I’m feeling pretty tired today but ready to face the challenge I get situated near the front of the pack this time and we are off. Felt good about where I was until I dropped my chain, oh man that sucked I had to get out of everyone way with everyone flying past so I didn’t get trampled on and once I fixed the problem had to get back in with the bikers. Ok so i’m hyperventilating a little at this point as i’m stressed to where I got put back in the pack. I carried on and tried to pass as many as I could without exploding, it was ok but I got stuck with the group that all got off there bikes on a little techy section . Not much I can do at this point, so I just do my best to pass em and get in a better position. I carry on and fly down little french the other direction which was great and I see my competition Nicole, ok great I’m back on track so I push really hard to get up french pass as fast as I can so she doesn’t pass me. Luckily after all of that I did win the last day again woohoooo!!!! I won all three days i’m super happy about that not to mention I’m going to France in 4 days. Jennifer also held onto her spot in 3rd place, she crushed it great job Jennifer that was not an easy race.
I had succeeded in my big goal for the year and now I’m going on holiday to ride road-bikes in France, life cant get any better.
We love our sponsors, especially if they are there to help us win! Read more on how Sidi rescued Megan at the Winter Park series, carrying her all the way to victory!
All the credit for my win at Winter Park last week goes to Sidi Sports and the Alpinestars rep. You see, I made the mistake of waiting until the morning of the race to pack my bag for Winter Park. After the 1.5 hour drive to Winter Park, I arrived at the resort just over an hour before the race. Only then did I realize I had forgotten my shoes. Other than a bike, it’s probably the single most important item to remember. The last time I forgot my shoes was in 1999 when I drove 45 min from Urbana, Il to the nearest mountain bike park. After that disappointing experience, I diligently double-checked my bag for 15 years….until that day.
Fortunately, fate was on my side. After running from trailer to trailer and store to store to see if anybody had a womens size 7 shoe to rent or borrow, I ended up at the Alpinestars tent. It turned out the Alipinestars and Sidi reps were traveling together. They sent me to the Sidi truck, fitted me with demo shoes and, since they didn’t have cleats compatible with my pedals, a big pair of their new enduro pedals. The pedals were huge compared to my tiny Crank Brothers Egg Beaters, but I actually enjoyed having the large platform under my foot and even found I had more confidence on the technical sections. I also had no trouble adjusting to the comfortable shoes. Now if I could just get Sidi to make a carbon mountain bike shoe for women….
Brittany had the longest race of her life, both road and mountain, and surprised herself with a 3rd place overall in the infamous Laramie Enduro!
The name is a bit confusing, but the Laramie Enduro is not an enduro as in #hashtagenduro, shuttle-to-the-top-and-shred-all-the-gnar-on-six-inch-travel-bikes. The Laramie Enduro is a 70 mile (ish) endurance mountain bike race that started long before #enduro was a thing. Just so we’re all on the same page. I raced the sport category and because of the field sizes, the race director combined the Women’s 0-29 and 30-39 age groups into a single 0-39 Women’s Sport category.
Not only was this the longest distance I’d ever ridden a mountain bike, it was going to be the longest race—road or mountain—I’d ever done. I was really concerned with pacing myself, and trying to trick myself into treating it like a ride instead of a race. Everyone I’d talked to who had previously done the Enduro had warned me that the last 20 miles were the most difficult part of the trail, super steep, loose, and rocky. Slow and steady and hopefully I’d make it.
Meme based on web comic Hyperbole and a Half: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html
The first 50 miles flew by! Some fun singletrack broke up the long stretches of forest service roads. I drank, ate, and hummed songs to myself.
I ran out of water around mile 50. My reservoir holds 3 liters, and I average—forcing myself to drink—1 liter/hr. Like a good girl, I refilled my reservoir at 3hrs. Mile 50 happened at 4:45. I still don’t understand how I drank 3 liters of water in an hour and a half, but I had roughly 45min-hour before the next aid station. Not good.
That station was 9 miles from the finish. I was cracked. A volunteer took my reservoir out of my hands and filled it. All of it. All 6.5 lbs and 3 liters of it. For 9 miles. Then this wonderful, horribly helpful person tried to put my reservoir back into my bag. Except she didn’t know where it went. As I repeat over and over, “thank you, but I can get it,” she unzips all my pockets. I finally got my bag back and struggled to zip the overstuffed compartment. As I rode around the corner and took a big gulp from my hose I got…nothing. The overly helpful woman hadn’t attached the hose to the reservoir! I almost started crying in frustration. I plopped onto the road, pulled my bag off, and re-did the time-consuming, unsuccessful packing.
Hose reconnected, I start up the awful final climb. It was just as described—steep, rocky, and loose, and I was already so tired I could barely pedal. Rocks that would normally not bother me were stopping me in my tracks. Every time I got off my bike, I felt more defeated and closer to exhaustion-tears. About half way up the climb were two women cheering their hearts out for everyone that rode by. Normally, I would smile, say thank you, and not pay much more attention than that. But, at 65 miles of utter exhaustion, I assure you, these women were beautiful, loving saints and I couldn’t disappoint them!
There’s a short, quick trail decent, then you hop onto a dirt road and finish the race on a steep downhill for half of a mile. My car was parked right where trail turns to road. I was so busy thinking about how much I didn’t want to ride back up this hill to get to my car that I didn’t bother to chase the woman that sprinted past me to the line. Had I known we were standing 2nd and 3rd, I probably would have tried to chase, but I did know there were several women in front of me who I assumed were my age group. Apparently I was wrong.
I crossed the line, turned around, rode back to my car, drank my recovery drink, and debated whether or not I should go back down to see the results. Maybe eat the free meal. After dumbly staring at the hill for about 10 minutes, I decided a free beer and food weren’t worth going up the hill again. So I loaded up and drove home.
It wasn’t until the next day when results were posted online that I realized I’d placed 3rd. I’m slightly embarrassed to say I have no podium photos for y’all because I was too lazy to go down and up a hill. Moral: You should always stick around for results. And you should always make the effort (however great it seems) to actually go check them.
Megan R. took 1st place in the Rocky Mountain Endurance series with her win at the Breckenridge 32 race! Read more about the grueling single track in this epically hard (but fun) race.
The days leading up to the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series Breckenridge 100/68/32 the weather was predicting a 40-60% chance of rain for almost the entire day. When I arrived the morning of the race, the sky was clear and welcoming. Checking-in at Carter Park I got to watch some of the amazing people doing the full 100 mile race coming through after finishing their first loop. I was only doing loop 2, for the CX 32 race. Having looked at the maps, I knew 32 really meant ~34 and that I couldn’t start my sprint too early. About 10 minutes before the start I was looking around wondering why I didn’t see other racers lining up to go. Turns out, Carter Park was not the start of the XC race, the Ice Rink a few blocks a way was.
I quickly made my way over to join the other competitors for our mass start. With no time to spare we were off, following our lead car up a windy, nicely paved road. A great warm up, and way to string out the racers. I ended up somewhere mid group as we made our way to the trail, the first climb up to Sallie Barber we rose almost 1000 feet, when things got steep and rocky many racers around me were getting off and walking but I knew if I could stick with it and ride it out I’d save a lot of time, and there wasn’t much room to pass besides. Finding myself in line behind two racers, the three of us ever so slowly rode past others walking up, I knew I could ride faster but didn’t want to risk trying to get around on the big slippery rocks. Towards the summit of our first climb the rider in front pulled off, I looked down at her calf and saw XC 24, my competitor! She was a formidable opponent, I could tell she was very tough and that I would have to work really hard to keep a lead.
The first descent was a rocky wide road with a few switchbacks, most racers took this opportunity to make up time from the climb (including my formidable opponent) but I just kept thinking, I want to finish this race, I don’t want to go over a cliff! Overhearing some people discussing how the 2nd climb is the worst I was eager to see what was in store. It was about 800 vertical feet but less than a mile to get there. So the hike a bike began, not 1 competitor riding up the super steep, very rocky climb to the top of Little French Flume. I could feel the lactic acid in my calves building up as we made our way up the rocks, pushing and pulling our bikes best we could. Upon reaching the top, you could hear a sigh of relief, and a reprieve from the heavy breathing, knowing the downhill and Colorado Trail were within reach. 1 tricky creek crossing later and we were on our way down sweeping single track to the first aid station. I stopped and stuffed as much of a trail mix bar as I could fit into my mouth and hopped back on my bike. The next climb was almost 1200 ft up to West Ridge, but it was over 4 miles and there were many switchbacks to make it more manageable. Every time I would pass a competitor or get passed there were words of encouragement, “keep strong you’re doing great! The Colorado Trail was gorgeous but I kept thinking to myself it was made for hikers not bikers as we made sharp turns and climbed over large tree roots. I was feeling good and half way up the climb I caught sight of the other XC 24 again. I realized we would be playing leap frog, with her tearing down the downhill, and me pushing through the climbs.
The next section was a long descent that was tricky with ziggy zaggying switch backs full of large rocks, and lots of sand. All of the vibration from riding down the rocks was making me feel a little sick, when the trail open up into a huge field with amazing views of the surrounding peaks a large grin crossed my face, it didn’t even crush my spirits that my competitor passed me because I knew we were on the last 12 miles! 1 creek crossing later and I was at aid station 3 where I proceeded to shove down 2 bars knowing I’d need all the energy I could get. The course followed a paved road for about a mile, I kept panicking I had missed an arrow somewhere and was off course but then came the next arrows and two volunteers guiding me to my last climb 800 feet up to Gold Run Road. That was the toughest climb of the ride. I was pedaling as hard as I could, my legs burning, my heart rate at 178 bpm and going 4 mph, ugh! I kept passing racers walking their bikes up, I wanted to get off and do the same so badly but I knew I had to push through if I wanted any chance of winning. I kept my head down and tried only looking at the next 20 10 feet in front of me, when I’d see a bend ahead I’d look up and get hopeful it was almost over, but it wasn’t. The mountain was taunting me over and over and over again, this is it! Nope, still climbing.
Up ahead I saw the other XC 24, we rode together until the downhill where we stayed together until it got technical and she pulled ahead. When we dumped out on to Gold Run Road she had a half mile lead on me. I pushed and turned my pedals over as fast as I could and started regaining ground, able to pass just as we hit the last little climb before berm switchbacks to the finish. I didn’t miss a beat climbing the hill and quickly entering the single track to the final quarter mile. The large berm switchbacks were intimidating but fun and I knew I couldn’t let up. When I crossed the finish line I was ecstatic! That day I earned 1st place in the Breckenridge XC 32 race for the 19-29 but even more awesome I was awarded 1st Place in the Series Overall for the XC 19-29 Woo Hoo!! I was excited to be able to bring this accomplishment to Naked and looked forward to hearing about our other victorious in a weekend with such a large offering of races.
Megan tackled a 44-mile mountain bike race for her first one of the year. Yep-those Naked ladies are tough! Read her recap here.
For a mountain bike race, 44 miles seemed pretty long, particularity for my first race. After missing out on the first 2 Rocky Mountain Endurance races I decided to give PV Derby a go, despite the daunting length. Being all the way out in Elbert county it had to be a nice flat small rolling hills type course right? Wrong! Boy was I in for a surprise, with technical drops, and a couple of narrow rocky descents on the edge of a small gully that dropped down into a creek. There were 2 laps, on lap 1 I found myself alone for most of the journey, I didn’t mind (besides the small paranoia that I was going to be eaten by a mountain lion) knowing that I just needed to keep a steady speed to make it through the distance. The first third of the lap was fairly mellow except for one very technical rocky descent, which was of course where the photographer was, I chose to walk it, realizing when 35+ miles ahead of me, the last thing I needed was to get over confident. When it opened up into prairie grasslands there was an AMAZING view of Pikes Peak, I remember saying “wow!” even though I was the only one who’d hear it. Around 3/4 of the way through the loop was the “aid station” which I decided to pass up (big mistake).
The final leg of the lap was down near the gully with lots of narrow drop offs that made me extremely nervous. I remember coming up on a big rock that I was unsure off, next thing I knew I was still clipped into my bike getting dragged down a (fortunately muddy) side of the hill. My chain-ring caught part of my thigh and I could see blood on it but I knew I was fine. I was overcautious the rest of the lap but kept pace behind another XC racer through the end of the 1st lap. I could feel my body fatiguing and stopped at the aid station only to find they were out of food. The 2nd lap was much slower than the first, my legs did not want to keep turning the pedals over. There was a section of trail with two very tight rocks you could barely get your tire through that I decided not to attempt (good thing!), after I had climbed up and over the rocks another racer came up behind me and pinch flatted, with a loud pop! There were many people throughout that lap whom I saw headed backwards on the course which confused me until I got closer and realized they had flatted. I saw my main competitor about half way through the lap, I tried to keep pace but knew I didn’t have the energy. I stopped at the unmanned aid station and found a builder bar which I quickly ate, but for the next 20 minutes kept wondering if I had chocolate smeared all over my face.
About 10 miles from the end of the lap I came across a herd of cattle, all standing in the trail, making extremely angry cow noises, 2 coming towards me. I quickly turned around thinking I could find another racer behind me and we could get through them together, but 10 minutes later, I was still alone. I approached the location where the cows were and they had moved far enough away I felt comfortable passing once I had my speed up. The rest of the lap was fairly uneventful, except for the looming wall clouds that kept getting closer. I crossed the finish line as they were packing everything up to get it out of storms way and not 5 minutes later it started pouring rain. They cut off all racers they came through who had another lap to finish, but I had just finished my first XC mountain bike race! I placed 2nd in my category, it took me 5 hours 14 min to finish the race, but only 10 min behind 1st place.