So it is done. The 2010 Intermountain Cup 13-race mountain bike race series is finally done. After our Europe trip, I will admit my head was not as into it as I needed it to be, but I made it though and raced that one last race on Saturday.
When Drew and I pre-rode the course on Thursday with Erica T., we were not excited about a Leadville-style out and back climb on a steep gravel road. On Saturday morning, Ed the race organizer tweeted that he had taken out the climb. That made what would have been at 2+ hour race into what turned out to be an hour and 21 minutes for me. I was seriously OK with that!
On the start, I was very disappointed to see that my only competitor was Mary Foss. She has beaten me on most occasions except one, I think. One of the things I learned about my racing during this long year is how important it is for me to have competition. The best races of the season were races where I was close enough to other women that we could see each other and push each other to ride faster. With only one other person to race against, I was not believing in myself.
Off the start, my legs disappeared. It was like they were not even there. They didn't hurt or anything, they just weren't there and certainly wouldn't turn pedals. We started behind the sport men and in front of the Clydesdales and beginner men. I was horrified to have about 5 of them pass me after the first little single track section. After 10 minutes or so, I got my legs back and started to ride, but I would have to pass each of those guys again and still didn't see Mary until the lap zone. I was, however, excited to see her only 30 seconds in front of me there, so I gave it the best shot I could, but she still ended up winning by about a minute.
Lesson learned: ride more than once the week prior and get a decent warm up on the bike day-of. Also, eat 3 hours before.
Drew, on the other hand, had a fabulous race, despite a head cold! For the previous two days he couldn't ride or hardly even walk without hacking. Even on the morning of, he was congested. But because of his 46-hour training week a couple of weeks ago during which he dropped 10 pounds (!), he was lean and mean and placed 4th out of 15!! His best I-Cup finish ever. 4th place gets you into the Tweety Chair.
I was so proud to see him the chair!
There was a barbecue and a lot of sitting around between the day's awards and the overall series awards. I took the time to go spend my $20 gift certificate at the nearby bike shop and bought a clip on light and a coin purse made from recycled inner tubes. Cool stuff.
A brief but serious rain shower forced us inside for the overall series awards. I was really disappointed that neither Lisa nor Jen was there to accept the awards with me, but it still felt really great to get up on the top of the podium to accept my $7 plaque and cool hat.
Erica, who started as a sport racer this season and who just kept getting faster and faster and beating me by more and more as the season progressed, and then who moved to Pro, took third in the Pro category. Way to go Erica.
It has been fun going to races with Erica.
I was happy to have Drew's ribbon flapping with mine on the customary rear-view mirror placement on the drive home.
And here my snazzy plaque.
I like those words.
So overall, I had a better season than I expected after making the scary move up to Expert. My two goals at the start of the season were to 1) finish at least mid-pack in most races and podium at least once and 2) win the overall season title. After I got onto the podium at the third race, I made a new goal to win at least one race, which I did on two occasions (Deer Valley and Sherwood Hills). There were races where I did not perform my best (Draper, Soldier Hollow) and races that were fun and exciting because of the competition (Deer Valley, Snowbird, Rampage). My favorite race was Deer Valley because it was two days after my 40th birthday and I raced really hard and won. I would like to forget about Draper, but will try to remember how that hurt and what not to do before a bike race (drink wine and neglect sleep).
My coach, Kathy Sherwin, helped me out so much this year. She lined out training schedules for me and gave me advice and encouragement when I needed it. Having a schedule and someone checking that I was keeping that schedule made it so much easier to find the motivation to do the work. She is a good coach, and I would definitely recommend her to anyone looking to improve his or her race results. I went from taking 8th place in two races in the Sport Women's category last year to winning the Expert Cat this year. That's a big improvement!
I've said a bunch of times that I am "retiring" after this season. We'll see. Maybe I'll just race for fun. What a concept.