I hope I don’t disappoint anyone with a brief race report, but I honestly don’t have a ton to say because everything was so perfect.
Friday night, I slept like the dead.
Saturday, Hiker Hostel breakfast (french toast, scrambled eggs, and oatmeal- all made in front of you in the kitchen) was great. The night before, they ask what time the racers need to eat, and that’s what time the food hits the table. The coffee prettymuch kicks ass, too.
I knew going in to the race that with 2nd and 1st place finishes in 2009 and 2010 that I’d be a marked woman. Just in case no one noticed, race promoter Eddie O’dea did call-ups for the previous year’s podium finishers that were in attendance for this year’s race. the other women held their positions in the line up… I took the opportunity to move up a row.
The race began with a piece of break-neck speed, off-camber piece of cyclocross course. I rode hard, but smart (a repeating theme for the day), not wanting to fall behind, but not wanting to wreck or have a mechanical, either. I was passed by a few guys that started behind me, but no women.
Once we were on the road, I knew that I had to capitalize on having a cyclocross bike instead of a mountain bike.Just ahead of me, I saw a tall, skinny guy in a Clemson kit, riding at a good pace with his elbows on the tops of his bars. I pushed hard to catch his wheel, and he amicably pulled me several miles to the first of the gravel road hills where I decided that I no longer needed to be pulled, thanked him, and began climbing at a hard, just barely sustainable pace.
For the remainder of the race, I was either climbing at a pace as hard as I could maintain, or I was descending as fast as possible without risking a wreck or mechanical. The descents were a lot rougher than last year, so I knew that Brenda Simril (who was chasing me all day) was at an advantage on her mountain bike. I made it up the first insanity climb, through the first SAG, and down the first descent to the pavement without issue.
Once I was on the pavement and headed towards the next climb, I had to concentrate on maintaining the same effort that I’d put into the previous climb. Generally, if I wasn’t out of breath and my legs weren’t burning, I shifted to a harder gear and pedaled harder. Since the 2nd climb was much more moderate than the 1st one, the pavement strategy worked well for it, too. Between the 100’s of calories of Gu Roctane and a caffeine pill around mile 25, I started the 2nd climb feeling like I was ascending like a monkey on crack, and ended up reeling in a lot of the men who had passed me earlier in the race.
Before I knew it, I was at the 2nd aid station. Soon after, my only race mishap occurred when I lost a water bottle on one of the rough downhill spots. Luckily, #55 gave me one of his extras (I forgot his name, though he did say that he’s got a coworker that’s a reader). Hi! And, thanks again… you saved me!
The remainder of the rollers after the last long descent were hard. I had convinced myself that the other competitors were not far behind me, so I ignored how badly my legs hurt and hammered (as best I could) over the top of every hill. When I arrived back at Montaluce for the final CX lap, I had a slight inkling that I might win. Eddie had re-routed the course to include a traditional Southern Cross run-up. I shouldered my bike, threw goats & made faces at the cameras, and trotted up the hill.
Ever since French Gulch in Breckenridge, all other hike-a-bike type situations seem somewhat “easy.”
I made my way through the remainder of the course and crossed the line. Ho-lee-isht. Did I win?!?! Eddie seemed slightly doubtful. Others congratulated me. I was 99% sure I’d won, but no one seemed to know for sure.
I have never been as exhausted after that race as I was yesterday. I changed, drank a recovery drink, and laid down on the ground in a fetal position near the food tent, where I passed out for close to 15 minutes. It would have been longer, but Skinny Matt called and woke me up with his SuperFlossy race report.
I eventually ate some lunch, went back to the hostel and changed, had a couple of beers, and returned for the awards ceremony. When I walked in, a bit of a nightmare started… Namrita (Eddie’s wife), approached me, apologizing. She said that someone had finished ahead of me by a few minutes. What followed was on the top 10 list of worst hours of my life. I’d absolutely destroyed myself to win, but I thought I hadn’t. I drank half of Jimmy Deane’s whiskey trying to numb myself from the horrible feeling of riding as hard as humanly possible and still being in being 2nd place.
Then, Brenda Simril stepped in. She asked me if I knew this person that had placed ahead of us. Uh… no. No idea. We talked to the men that had finished ahead of us. None of them had seen any other women. We talked to Namrita and eventually figured out that this person had entered the 50 mile race and only completed the 30 mile course without notifying the finish line staff (she wasn’t at the awards ceremony).
I was back in first place, and $500 richer.
Despite the emotional roller coaster, the day was amazing. After the awards ceremony, photos and celebration ensued…
Photos? I have post-race photos. You’re just going to have to wait until morning.