Me between two giants...
I did manage to get to Hardwood several times to practice the course...once with CoachRob and his crew, once with Clarkie, once with Giant. I really wanted to perform better than I did the previous week at Canada Cup #3 in Horseshoe. I know I am not as fast technically or functionally as the Experts in my category but the practice allowed me to get comfortable with the gnarly trail features and to determine the best lines throughout....so when it came to game day I would be more likely to stay upright and my only limiting factors would be my skills and conditioning.
So anyways....come game day....warm up with Oggie and Giant...until this...
"Ladies...take a look at your man...now back to me..."
"Back to your man...now back to me..."
"I'm on a bike..."
Anyways...getting off track early.
Anyways...maybe that's why I get nervous...in this damn fast group...plus just the anticipation of wanting to do my best without crashing is a bit nerve provoking.
Anyways...finally, we start...like a dozen rockets going off around me. I quickly get left off the back, but push hard enough to stay in contact, up the steep loose doubletrack (or wider even) rollers.
Then a slight left turn up a steep grassy climb...I am right on the wheel of one of my fellow competitors as we dive into the first bit of singletrack. I don't know his name, and didn't think to take note of his race number, but he is wearing black and white kit...and I fight to keep him in sight. But he is fast in the singletrack. Twisty singletrack is likely my greatest technical weakness, I have been working at it, and getting better....but not enough. He drops me in the singletrack. I give as much as I can to negotiate the singletrack without crashing....then gun it beyond my redline on every bit of doubletrack, and climbing just to keep him in sight. A quick flash of black and white kit...then I lose him again in singletrack.
Before I know it I am into Stonehouse (I think that is the name of the feature)....a steep, very rooty swithchback. It is one of my favourite features, because it looks scary as hell, but is easily rideable if you hit it with enough momentum and confidence, and take the right line. I hit it a little too fast and sketchy...just enough to remind me to stay focussed...but I was beyond redline trying to keep up.
Through Holmes' Humps....up the twisty, steep switchback climb....then into Deena's Joyride...another of my favourite features...a series of 3 small jumps into right turn wooden berm. Then through the tunnel...into the open...there was black and white kit...just 100m or so ahead of me entering the feedzone...
I pushed as much as my bleeding lungs would let me. Through the feedzone...Unglued (luckily not wearing zebra stripes!!), Clarkie, Mark...some Lapdogs?? cheering me on....huge Thank You!!! Grant was handing me my new bottle.
Huge Thank You to Grant for handling my feedzone!! He raced earlier in the Under17 Cadet Sport Male category, and killed it...coming in fourth!! Well done, sir!
This is him making easy work of the first jump on Deena's Joyride...
Thanks again, Grant!! (Hey where is my waterbottle???)
Anyways....through the feedzone...up the big Z...the twisty, stony switchback climb...into more singletrack....around JP's Nemesis (yup, I took the around on this one)...more singletrack...I lost black and white. More singletrack...around Endo Rock (the other around I took)...through the other side of the feedzone...up the last climb of the course...lungs bursting....into the hugely fun BMX section...over the finish line...done lap one. Totally gassed...heading into lap 2...I stood to gun it up the steep loose rolling start climbs again...but my heart was about to burst through my ears.
Black and white was now out of sight...if I attempted to hold this pace for three more laps, I would explode. I had to settle in to Riot top speed, rather than try to keep pace with the group...and I did. Keeping myself redlined but manageable...I raced out the three remaining laps safely and consistently (my lap times were 26:34, 28:31, 28:52. 28:30). I finished 12th out of 14...last really as the other two had DNF'd.
But I am happy with my race...good times for me. An amazingly fun course arranged by Pulse Racing, and pushed myself to my limit and beyond, in a competitive field that is just beyond me....for now. Yeah, I have a lot of work to do...but that's the point. Plus...it is great to hang out in such a community of fun, yet competitive, friendly people!!
Add to it, this time I didn't get lapped by half the R&R team...just John, with MarkB hot on his tail...Mark never did catch him...this time. They finished 1st and 2nd in their category.
KarenG caught me on my 3rd lap...and took 3rd in her category...well done...again!!
LisaH passed me to take 1st in her category...by a huge margin!! CoachRob lapped me at the very end of my 3rd lap...to take 2nd on his singlespeed in Expert Men 40-44.
CoachRob now has an opening for a new client...
And Clarkie had one of his best days racing...coming in 4th in his category!! Getting too fast there Clarkie!! Podium next race, eh!!
Oh yeah...Emily won her category...
Never enough gratuitous Emily pics....
I obviously have more work to do...as I mentioned....and I am on it.
As far as upcoming races...this is happening this weekend!!
Round 3 of Substance Projects XC Marathon Cup MTB race series. If you haven't registered yet get on it, before it's too late!! Dan's races are always a challenge, and a ton of fun!!
Anyways...I am running late!!