Well, my weekend didn’t go quite as planned, but I still consider it a success.
I arrived at Camp Wahsega late in the afternoon and went out for a quick spin to get my legs moving again after the 7+ hour drive. Afterward, I cleaned up and figured I’d drive back to town for dinner. I was joined by Cesar Grajales… who, I have to admit, I first thought was just a guy in a rock racing t-shirt he’d picked up at the bike shop until he talked about his team, and I asked who his team was… oops. Dinner was good- we met up with Mike from Niner bikes and some other racers at Caruso’s- an Italian place that was a race sponsor. When we got back, I got to meet with a lot of the other women who were racing… I think that the people I’ve met at MTB races are part of the reason why I love it so much!
The next day started at 5:00 am with the ringing of the canteen bell (just like summer camp back in the day!) By 7:00, I was at the start area to watch the 100 mile racers take off. At 7:15, we were off. The course started on a 12 mile climb. It was pretty gradual, so I settled in to a nice tempo pace. At the top, we passed the first aid station, and only one woman- Loretta Simpson (local expert MTB racer) had stayed with me. I threw in a couple of attacks on the flat section at the top just for good measure. It was very tempting to go a lot harder at that point, but I made myself maintain the same tempo pace so that I’d be able to finish strong. It seemed to have worked, because she dropped back before the next aid station, which was at 19 miles in. I had to stop for water, and she caught up to me.
Once we were back on the trail, I kept with my strategy- tempo riding then letting it rip whenever I was on a descent. That was working well until mile 21… I hit a descent that started out looking as if it’d be fine at high speed, but about halfway down, it got really rocky. I took a bad line into the rocks, hit a large rock, and lost all control… I found out from my Garmin file last night that my speed at that point was 35 mph. I am not sure what happened between hitting the rock and becoming airborne, but I was in the air long enough to hear people yelling and to think to myself,Ã‚ “this is really, really bad.” All I could think to do was tuck my arms up to my sides and relax… it sounds weird, but it’s probably why I didn’t break anything. I bounced into a rock garden then slid downhill for what seemed like forever. When I came to a stop, I could barely breathe- I didn’t know where I was hurt because everything hurt so much. All I could do was just lay on the trail in a fetal position and let space and time catch up with me. I think I heard someone offer to go back to the aid station and call for help, but I managed to communicate that I thought I might be OK.
This was the type of wreck where even the guy that usually rides by and asks if everyone is OK over his shoulder stops… even if just out of morbid curiosity.
After I laid there for a minute, I sat up- at which point (according to Laureen Coffelt), I turned white, but realized that I was (reletively) OK. After another minute, I stood up and slowly got back on my bike. Everyone asked if I was going to continue the race, and I told them I’d at least ride to the next aid station. Somehow, I ended up on the wheel of Laureen (Memphis local from RB’s Racing who was in the 100 mile race). She asked if I wanted to get by, and I told her that I was just going to follow her for a little while- she was very steady and had pre-ridden the course enough to know where the good lines were and would even yell back to me when we came to a section that was easier in the granny gear. It really let me get my rhythm and nerve back.Ã‚ I don’t think she realizes how much that helped me. I honestly don’t know if I could have kept going if it weren’t for her wheel and her encouragement. Huge thanks are deserved…
Once we were off singletrack and back on some forest road, I decided to pick the pace up a little. At that point, my right groin and forearm were hurting a lot, and I had a dull headache (I saw later that I’d cracked the shell of my helmet) and sore back. I just went into survival mode. The fall broke my spirit as much as it broke my body, so I had no drive to even attempt to chase down Loretta, who’d gone ahead once she was sure that I was alive and not on my way to the hospital. All I could do was think about George Hincapie riding in the Tour with a broken collarbone and count the miles.
Somehow, I managed to drag myself the remaining 30 miles to the finish.Ã‚ I held on to 2nd place, too. I wanted to cry when I got there. After I showered, I packed up the car with all intentions of driving back to Memphis to race at the Stanky Creek XC race the next day. However, I changed my mind as I became progressively more sore and noticed some blood in my urine. I was really disappointed that I didn’t race Stanky because it’s a trail where I feel that I do really well, but I was comforted by kegs of Terrapin beer and a bunch ofÃ‚ new friends to swap stories and do a little hiking with (the camp has some pretty cool trails/waterfalls to check out).
Today (Monday), I still feel like I’ve been beaten with a lead pipe. My muscles ache, I think I broke a rib, and mentally, I’m in an odd fog- I don’t think I hit my head, but I can’t think straight, and I’ve lost my appetite. Hopefully it’ll clear up in a day or two. I’ve entered the Oak Ridge Omnium that’s scheduled for next weekend, which includes the TN State Championship Road Race. Even if I’m still a little banged up, the payout is great, and I need to defend my RR Jersey!
I’ll update with some photos soon…