This Sunday was the first mountain bike race of the season. I was excited and apprehensive at the same time. The first race of the season is always exciting. Plus, the Sylvan Stampede course is one of the more technical ones and I've had a lot of fun racing it the past two years.
The course is pretty flat with lots of twists and turns, roots, rocks and some cement walls to go around. In other words, totally my type of course -- with the exception of several short straight cement/flat sections, which are good for drinking during but a part that favors speedier girls than myself.
Christopher really wanted another trip, as he had not had one since we went to cross Worlds down in Louisville in January. Tom agreed to come so Christopher could have his trip, which was one of my reasons for apprehension as it is well known how much Tom hates RV trips. I had also been training more this year and was a little apprehensive about how I would do in the race -- would the training pay off or had I tortured myself on the trainer for no good reason.
It was also chaotic in that we were still trying to get the Niner together and I did not get to ride the bike on dirt until preriding.
First, the bike -- oh my freaking god is it awesome. It is sexy and so light it is crazy. I still have to dial in the fit a little. I still have to trim the handlebars a little more (okay, have Richards trim the bars a little more) and figure out the stem and fork. But, after only riding it for approximately 30 minutes in the preride, I felt awesome on it during the race. = )
As for the race, there were only six girls at the start. I'm sure the weather scared some off and there was also a small turnout for last year's race but, man, there were only six of us -- which included several girls that I knew I had no chance in beating. So, it is a little hard to get in racing mode. Still, we were off and I tried hard to be speedy in the beginning straight section before the single track. Speed not being my strong point, it did not go as good as I would have liked but I was not last. The girl ahead of me crashed a couple of times which allowed me to catch back up to her and then pass her. However, on one of the bobbles/crashes, I ran into her back wheel and the lady behind me was able to get past both of us first. I remembered her getting past me last year and then not seeing her again. Unfortunately, that was the case this year as well.
I suck at starts and always feel like I'm going to die. Then, as the race progresses, I usually feel better and better until the end when I tend to start to bonk and mess up on stupid stuff that I can normally cleanly ride. I reminded myself of this fact as I thought I was going to redline and pass out, not quite halfway through the first lap, and tried to focus on riding smooth and trying to keep pushing it through the fast sections.
For the most part, I was feeling really good on the bike -- in terms of feeling comfortable on it. My arms and back were getting sore near the end and I still need to improve on speed/fitness, but that seems to be coming along as well. I would catch glimpses of Rachael from time to time. I knew she had been sick but I was still pleased that I was not extremely far behind her. Even sick, she is one speedy lady, particularly at a course like Sylvan.
It was raining during part of the race. The course held up really well but started getting pretty slick during the end of the last lap. I took things a little too conservative on the last lap and my lap times definitely show it. New bike and new tires -- as well as several near wipe outs caused me to let off the gas. I did however finish fifth and was not DFL, which is always a good thing. = )
Christopher had did the kids race earlier at noon. What is wonderful about this race is that they actually have them ride on a short bit of trail as opposed to just riding through grass. Even better, they gave him a water bottle with two packages of fruit snacks. He was absolutely thrilled to get the fruit snacks. He did very well. There was one slight incline that he got almost all the way up and then slid part of the way down, causing a small scratch on his leg. He told his teacher how he had raced, slid down a hill and had blood coming down his leg. He definitely made it sound more exciting. Maybe a writing career is in his future.
We were parked in a nearby parking lot where they had a big puddle/pond that you could throw rocks in! And, they had a big pile of rocks!!! A pile that was bigger than Christopher! For a five-year-old boy, there is not much better than that. = ) He also got to see Zoey and Casey, which he was excited about.
On the way home, we stopped by a Burger King that had an indoor play area and had a Transformers Bumblebee toy for the kids meal. So, for Christopher, the trip really could only have been better if it had been longer. Tom, on the other hand, was not happy. He kept waffling on whether to race and decided not to. He rode around a little bit before my race but, by the time my race was over, it was raining and he just wanted to start heading home.
I'll be taking Christopher on a little trip this weekend to check out a museum in Rockford and they are going to stay home for the next race so they can go to a gathering someone from Tom's work is having. = ) I'm very psyched to ride the Niner and for the next race, paritcularly as I rode well at Matthiessen last year.