Friday, August 15, 2014

Ore to Shore - Rolling with the Punches

Last weekend was for the most part, incredibly awesome.  Tom, Brendan, Matt, Alicia and I made the trip up to Marquette. Ore to Shore was to be Brendan's first mountain bike race and that in and of itself was a highlight of my weekend. Being able to share in someones "first" is always special.

Brendan and Tom post race beers!
We raced bikes, drank beer, ate too much food and spent the weekend at our dear friends Evan and Grace's home. Huge thanks to Grace for putting up with all us bikers scattered about her living room....Grace is easily one of the nicest people I've ever met. 

Pre-race coffee stop - all 5 of us + dog Jack packed into this small space in Jeff and Ann's Sprinter

Friday night I had one of those very rare pre-rides where it was as if everything felt effortless.  I was so incredibly excited to race on Saturday and I was absolutely convinced it was going to be "my day."

Okay... so it totally wasn't. 

Well, it started out great.  I had my best start ever and had managed to latch onto a really strong group of dudes.  I was barely able to hang and that was how I knew I was finally executing a nearly perfect race. The course was super sandy and dusty and I was having an absolute blast. Well... that was until about an hour in when we all missed a bright yellow sign with a big black arrow.  Kind of important :) I was sitting about 4th wheel at this point and when I heard the rider up front say the dreaded "I don't see any fresh tracks" I knew we were in trouble.  I think this is probably the worst feeling ever in a race. Well, maybe a close second to the whole "I just had a mechanical" feeling. By the time we realized we had missed a turn there were nearly 20-30 people that had also followed us off course.

Being lost sucks. But looking back it was actually kind of funny. In most races you never really make eye contact with anyone.  Even if you see a friend or fellow competitor on the course you usually just pass one other and exchange a few words of support "keep it up yo!". Since this race was super dusty everyones faces were covered in dirt, hair was disheveled and we all had that super bummed depressed and sad look on our face.  It looked like we had all just came out of a coal mine!!!  I may have even laughed at this point, ha!

7 minutes later we were finally back on course. I only know this thanks to Garmin.  Looking back it really didn't feel like 7 minutes.  SEVEN MINUTES????  I could shower, eat breakfast and be out the door for work in 7 minutes!!!  Almost immediately after getting back on course I awkwardly ate shit on a sandy downhill (more comedy) leaving me with this lovely work accessory and the obligation to explain my weekend shenanigans all week long.

Starbucks drive-thru selfie
At the time all of this was a bit of a buzz kill, but that's racing and one thing that cycling has taught me is to roll with the punches.  There will be more Ore to Shores and there will be many more mountain bike races.  I smiled, reminded myself I was incredbily lucky to be racing and competing amongst some great friends... and promised myself to make the best of the day.  I eventually found another group of fast racers that had also either gotten lost or had mechanicals and we managed to push eachother hard all the way to the finish!! I was happy to ride my way back to a top ten result...but I was even happier to see this guy!!

It's not often Tom and I get to share in a post race high!  I so love Andy Gregg from Marquette Photo for taking this shot!!

Now I am sitting in lovely Manitou Springs, CO eating cinnamon rolls and getting ready for my next adventure.  Tomorrow morning I will climb to the top of Pikes Peak....without my bike :) Stay tuned...and in the meantime, pray for me!!!

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