This would be my first attempt at racing in the Expert Women category. Five years ago when Drew introduced me to racing, I started in the Beginner category. Later that year I moved up to Sport, skipping the Women 35+ category. A couple of years ago I was doing really well in Sport, but last year, probably due to lack of focus and a lot of time spent in the West Desert for work, my top finish was 8th, well into the bottom of the pack. I needed a goal for this year. A reason to get on my bike when I would rather pick out a new bedspread or a hundred other things that sorta-hafta be done, but really don't. Thus, my upgrade.
Drew and I drove down on Thursday night, staying at a large VRBO rental home that Jim reserved for the 14 of us. It felt a little like college: hanging out, eating pizza, sharing showers. Nice flashback. The bikes had somewhere to hang out too.
I pre-rode the course twice on Friday. I new I would be nervous for this first race, but I didn't really expect to feel sick-to-my-stomach nervous an entire day before the race! Studying the course and talking through it helped, and by race time the next day, I felt a lot better. Whatever lay ahead would be a learning experience, right?
Drew and I both did two laps of the course, but my new category starts about 8 minutes ahead of his. There were an awful lot of racers on course at one time. Nearly 300 bikers on a 6-mile loop makes for a lot of passing and getting passed. There are a couple of ravines in the course where passing is impossible, but for the most part we could do our thing.
Drew, on course.
It was a good race for both of us; Drew placed 13th of 38, which I think might be one of his best short race finishes. I somehow managed to pull off 4th out of 11 by keeping a steady pace, passing a gal that was a stronger climber than me on the downhills, and holding off another competitor in the second lap. I think I might have cost myself a podium finish by entering an off-camber section of the trail at a bad angle and skidding out. Oh well, that's racing.
Lucy, in blue, accepting her 4th place ribbon.
After the race, lots of teammates stuck around, enjoying the warm weather and cold beers/chocolate milk.
Saturday night consisted of a pizza buffet at the flop house and a required run (by that I mean drive, since Jen's suggestion to walk was met with loud protests from our tired legs) to Nielsen's Frozen Custard. Sunday, we woke to rain and cloudy skies, so we picked the sandiest, slickrockiest trail we knew, Church Rocks, for a group ride before heading back home.
Drew, Chad, Doug, and Jim on Prospector Trail near Church Rocks.
All in all, a great weekend complete with better than expected results.