Tuesday, July 23, 2013

MTB Nationals Cat 1 XC and Short Track!

"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."  - Vince Lombardi

I am finally home and having a seriously hard time getting back on my bike....could be the fact that my entire body is bruised and battered from a rough weekend of racing and more crashes than I could  count!! But really it's probably just because I'm loving just sitting on my ass.

Last weekends trip out to Philly turned out to be an incredible weekend of racing!  When I first began set my summer race schedule, Nationals didn't quite make the cut as Tom was already scheduled to be in Utah for work.  As the season evolved my coach and I decided that this weekend would be a great test of fitness and a chance to race for a coveted Stars and Stripes jersey. 

Before I get any further on this post I really need to take a moment to thank some people that made this weekend possible in the first place.  Last week was a bit rough as my cat Vito was sick :( and I spent the better part of the week making trips to the vet and  worrying about my little "Fat Boy!"  Since he needed to be checked on regularly,  my parents agreed to watch him at their home for the weekend!  There is no one I can trust more than my mom and dad. Thank you both so much, you are the best.  Vito is doing better!

Also a HUGE thanks to my bestie Lisa for joining me on this trek out to Bear Creek Resort. If it wasn't for having such a great friend it's likely I wouldn't have made this trip. She not only took vacation from work and spent $$ out of her own pocket to support me on this trip...but she also provided me a sense of calm and support by helping me both process my struggles and celebrate my success.  Lisa, you always amaze me...thank you is not enough!

We arrived to Philly late Thursday night and spent the night at an airport hotel before heading to Bear Creek Resort on Friday.  Contrary to many of the sketchy "ghetto hotel tour" destinations as of late we totally splurged on this one and stayed with Spoo in a suite (sweet!) right on the mountain!!  The resort was awesome and such a wonderful place to just relax and vacation in its own right with plenty of restaurants a pool, etc.  Not to mention the race course was 20 yards out the back door.  There really wasn't any reason to leave. 

During the week leading up to the race I was hearing mumblings across the social network scene about this course being "very rocky."  I thought really?  how rocky can it be?  Spoo told me it was like one continuous rock garden.  yeah right spoo...quit exaggerating!  I figured a continuous rock garden not possible...well turns out it is possible!!!  I pre-rode a couple laps on Friday, one that was dry and one that was wet.  The wet lap was absolutely insane and I crashed a few times.  On one of the crashes I smashed my pedal into my ankle and I literally thought I was gonna vomit!  Good thing you don't need your ankles all that much to ride your bike as this little buddy was the least of my worries on Saturday!

Cat 1 XC Race
Race morning came early Saturday as we had a 10:30 am start.  I was stoked race early however I was obviously nervous as my stomach felt like a typical Ironman morning.  Thankfully once the gun went off this disappeared somewhere beneath the rocks.  I had a pretty good jump off the line and ended up heading into the single track in second with a huge pack of wolves breathing down my neck. 

The course had me a bit flustered from the get go and soon into the race my rear tire slipped on a rock and I had to step down.  This sucked big time as I basically watched what felt like my entire age group pass me before I could smoothly get back on my bike.  I was calm about the situation as I knew this course would make for a very long day.  I caught back up to a few gals on the climb however I didn't ride the descent very well on the first lap and at one point even crashed going totally over the bars and throwing my body onto a bridge.  The best part of this is that Spoo witnessed it first hand and to my luck even caught it on film. I still can't watch the clip without laughing...it's a hot mess!

The 2nd lap went much better and with the exception of one crotch jamming crash,  things went fairly well. I caught a few more girls in some other age groups and then with about a mile to go I could see a gal in front of me with a 30 on her calf.  At this point I really had no idea what place I was in but I figured if this was the difference between me and the podium I'd kill myself if I didn't beat her to the line.  I took the inside line on one of the switchbacks and managed to ride the rocks well enough to hold my place till the finish!! 

6th place in my age group and 17th Cat 1 overall.  I was mentally exhausted and physically battered!!!  In reality this course got the best of me; but both my bike and body are in one piece, and  in the end I know I am a better rider today than I was last week  Patience young grasshopper!

Cat 1 Short Track
One thing I've learned through a life of sport is that dwelling on an average result gets u just about nowhere.  I was quick to process Saturday's race effort and I was also quick to move on. Short track racing suits me and I was confident that if I did one simple thing "race my ass off," in the end I would be happy with the result.  Short track racing is very cyclocross like with multiple laps and throughout the entire race you have to convince yourself over and over and over again that you can continue to push the pace without blowing up and/or throwing up! It hurts pretty bad.  This small factor makes it really easy to be nervous, not just about the race, but about the pain!!  I had raced short track a couple times this year and due to those results I was able to score a spot on the first row.  This was important as the beginning lead out narrowed very quickly.  I had a perfect spot, but a slightly slow start and my handlebars knocked a neighbors and I almost tasted dirt from the get go.  Luckily I was able to hold onto 2nd position for well not very long at all.  I was quickly passed 3 other racers and spent some time in 5th and even a little bit of time in 6th place on the first couple laps.  By the 3rd lap I was starting to feel a bit stronger and made a couple passes to land myself in 4th place behind 3 juniors. 

On the 5th lap or so I creeped up on the gal in 3rd place and due to my lack of impatience made a stupid move to pass her on an offcamber turn!  To her credit she fought for it and cut me off, I ended up sliding out on the corner and getting once again nailed in the arm by my poor Broadaxe!  I got up quickly and kept my spot in 4th but my heart rate felt like it was way over max!!  I lost some time on that lap and even got re-passed and was again back in 5th place!  Eventually I grabbed the 4th place wheel and fought like hell...this worked out well as we both passed the gal in 3rd as a train.  I  suffered to hold on and decided that on the final lap (#9) I would make a move on the climb and fight for the bronze.  Turns out it was the right move at the right time.  I could hear Lisa and Spoo cheering and also the announcer screaming "she has a 5 second gap, a 10 second gap, a 15 second gap" it was a huge rush!!! I crossed the finish line in 3rd place....all smiles and so incredibly stoked!!!! This was one of those incredible moments where suddenly the world slows down and all of your hard work, struggles and dreams all come together. Beautiful Day!

Huge thanks to my husband, Tom, you always believe I can be great!. I know you would have loved to have been at Nationals with me.  Trust me, you were.  Thank you to my coach Matt for your continued passion towards my goals.  I can be a huge pain in the ass at times, but you are always patient and most of the time you are right. Thank you Chris for teching me how to ride a mountain bike and for always reminding me to "have fun!" because in the end that is really what matters.  Thank you to Larry and Sophie for kicking my butt all winter at the Fix; I'm certain I am able to suffer on days like this because of what you do. Lastly, thanks to all of you that support me, encourage me, and for whatever reason read this blog.  If these stories inspire just one person to give the dirt a try....this blog will have been well worth it.

This coming wekeend I will be racing my first 12 hour team race with my new Michigan bestie Danielle Musto.  Musto is a riot and I'm sure Wausau24 will be a race to remember!


  1. Congratulations! From all I've read that was a way tough course.

  2. Thanks Kate, it was definitely the hardest course I've ever ridden!