Friday, June 22, 2012

Red Wing Classic MTB Race

Finally it was here!  My first Minnesota Mountain Bike Series race of 2012!  I've come to realize that in order to "race" Hottie I've usually got to do a bit of travelin.  However it's all good since I am getting to see a lot of new areas and this was my first trip to Red Wing.  What a beautiful place set right on the river!  Memorial Park is where the race is held and its pretty much right at the top of a huge bluff and the views are incredible!  I was racing in the Sport class which meant a race start of 11:00 AM!  Can you believe that?  a whole 3-4 hours later than most of my tri's!  Tom was driving...which meant I was navigating...which is you guessed it...a horrible combo.  However I'm guessing if we flipped flopped...still a horrible combo.  I should probably just ride in the back seat from now on since we ended up in Hastings...oops.  Thankfully we realized our mistake quick enough to still get to the race with just enough time for a small warm up. 

The fun part about these races is that they are pretty much all day long fiesta starting With the kids and beginner races finishing with the expert/pro races. By the time I arrived the race day energy was already in full affect...think getting to the bars around 11:30 pm..just like that! I loved it.  Just before the start it was smoking hot and I was worrying that my ALL black All City jersey was going to turn out to be a horrible choice. Also I had ordered a size large and realized it was...well a bit too large and thus I had to tighten it with some safety pins in order to keep my spare tube kit from bouncing around...ghetto! 

The line up for the race start was quite interesting.  It kind of went in waves. Seemed to be a few different waves for the men based on age groups and well since there isn't quite the # of women racing only one wave for us...right in the back.  I was already getting antsy about how the start was gonna go...where to line up my fast would the smash out of the gates be... etc.  Also they had this thing called "call ups"  It's exactly as it sounds..basically they call your name if you are good enough and then you get to move up to the start line first and thus pick your starting spot.  Craziness...obviously since I've never done a race my name was not called :(  So I took my sport in the back row which is most likely where i belonged and waited for the gun to go off. 

BOOM!  woah...holy shiz i couldn't believe how fast we were just ripping out of there and just like that I was in probably 8th or 9th place.  I was mostly observing at this point and then remembered...THIS IS A RACE...MOVE YOUR ASS!  at which point I did and was able to pass a couple gals on the hills entering the first single track portion of the race in maybe 5th place.  It actually didn't take too long for me to pass most of the women...well except for 1 gal in a super cute Lululemon bike not just for the yogi's?  So I was in 2nd...but my tongue was practically touching my knees!   I remember at one point looking down and my watch said 11:32 (our race started at 11:08) i though holy shiz...I still have like a whole nother hour of this...I had better chill out. I was able to see Tom and and some other spectators on some of the single track sections...awesome.  It was super fun to hear them cheer.  However.....I did manage a nice wipe up right in front of them.  Couldn't believe the timing! The trail wasn't wet, but it was a bit slippery and I realized that i completely SUCK at climbing hills with roots cuz it seemed like every time I'd get stuck on the root, spin my back tire and pretty much topple over.  The icing on the cake of these incidents was that meant I got to run my bike to the top of the hill...hard and hard core.  At least good practice for cyclocross season I figure (yes I fully intend to dabble in that too!)

I had heard about this portion of the course called the "stairway to heaven" and I kept wondering when it would suddenly come into view.  About 3/4s the way through the first loop we took a hard right and BAM there she was.  It was probably the most ridiculous thing I've seen thus far in a race (it was close to as gnarly as the Kuparasaari Half Big Bertha Hill from 2010). No one around me the first time through was able to ride their bike up it.  I just took one look and conceded the time I  ran up it (okay more like walked) my calves were in huge knots!  I was stoked to get back on my bike but was worried how much time I lost with those walking shananigans.  I was still in 2nd...well until I dropped my chain...damn it.  I need to learn to act calmly in these situations..instead I swore like a truck driver and was so rattled it probably took me twice as long as normal to fix the situation and also gave me a front row view of the now 2nd place gal passing me...not cool, I also realized that even though I was still in 3rd, the gal in 4th was now right on my arse. Dang move it... I knew we still had quite a bit of racing to do so I was hopeful I could use my endurance to make up some ground...however not so much.  I finished the 3rd loop only 21 seconds behind 2nd place (I just kept seeing her blue jersey... like a dangling carrot).  We were both about 3 minutes from 1st place. IT WAS A BLAST!!!!!  And the other gals were super nice and friendly at the finish and it was fun to ramble about the challenges of the race...loved that and can't wait to race again!   

 Next up is the Lutsen 39er race this coming Saturday!  This race is mostly on gravel and snowmobile trails with I think only about 4 miles of single track. However the North Shore has been getting pummeled with rain over the past few days so could end up being a royal mud bath!  Party on!

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