Marin Bikes River Jump and a mess of people trying to stay cool after racing their bikes for 2+ hours.
First though, let's talk about the race. Saturday's cross country race was a blast, as usual. The course starts out with an hour long climb, which was a little harder than usual this year due to soaring temps and dry dry conditions. My goal was to be the first female to the top, but a few critical mistakes (trying to pass men in bad places etc) cost me the unofficial QOM by about 30 seconds.
The views help distract riders from the pain of the initial climb.
At the top of the climb riders hit Sunrise Trail, a twisty fun little single track that rips through gigantic trees and over some rocky rocks. I think I took about 2 minutes off my time on this trail from last year, and the improvement in descending was super motivating. Then we hit Baby Heads, an aptly named trail which I lobbed down in a haphazard way. Baby Heads is followed by Pauley Creek, another rocky mess of beautiful, mostly downhill trail. I found my flow at the end of Pauley Creek and got a push from a gigantic eagle mascot at the top of the short climb to Third Divide trail. Third Divide is a terrifyingly fast descent, and I held on for dear life as the Mt Vision and I screamed down the hill towards my favorite trail, First Divide. I held onto my second place position throughout the LONG descent, and eeked out the last drops of energy I had on the short road climb at the end of the race. I was stoked to finish second to mtb legend Keli Emmet, and almost immediately jumped into the river to cool off after the race.
Pretty cool to stand with these rad ladies on the Dville podium!
The Downhill race on Sunday was a whole other animal. We started the day with a lot of waiting around at the top of the mountain, with nerves making my stomach feel pretty upset.
The ladies of the Downieville DH. An awesome, inspiring group for sure!
By the time I finally got to start I was ready to get down the hill as fast as possible. Within a few minutes of the start of my run I saw good friend and favorite competitor Erin on the side of the trail with a flat tire. My heart sank for her because I had hoped Erin would be first or second in the DH (she is flippin' fast).
The first half of my race was pretty sloppy because I had a hard time keeping my momentum up on the crazy rocky, sometimes wet Butcher Ranch Trail. Eventually I found my rhythm again, and started having a blast tearing down the now familiar trails. Then, disaster struck! On a short, punchy climb I heard a loud bang/PSSSSHHHHHH and my bike jolted to a stop. I had broken 2 spokes and suffered an instant flat in my rear tire (still no idea why this happened). After quickly wrapping the broken spokes around other non-broken spokes, I worked on getting the sealant in my tires to fill the hole that caused the flat. Believing I had been successful, I used my only C02 to fill the tire with air, and took off down the fire road. No one had passed me in the first half of the delimah, so I was still feeling good about the race. About half a mile later, another complete flat. Determined to finish the race on two wheels I threw a spare tube in the tire, and started running down the fire road to find someone with C02 or a pump. The volunteers I came across a mile later had neither, I kept running. Many of the other pro women passed me during this phase of the ordeal, so my only goal at this point was to not give up. A woman passed me on First Divide trail, I called out for help, and to my great relief she quickly stopped and gave me her C02. I was back in business. After double checking the rim strip and tire I inflated the tube and babied the bike to the finish. Although the race obviously didn't go as planned, I was pretty stoked to finish with a shred of dignity, on two wheels and in one piece! Pretty sure I was even smiling (I was seriously thinking about you, Darin Maxwell and how you might be disappointed in me if I wasn't, haha).
It's always a bit of a let down to put so much prep into a race just to have such an epic mechanical, but I learned a lot from the experience, and I still enjoyed almost every minute of the weekend. I guess disappointment may be a big part of mountain bike racing, and I'm learning that how I deal with catastrophe is more important than how I deal with success. The highlights of the weekend made the whole ordeal worthwhile. Riding the Mt Vision in its natural habitat was a blast, especially after a long season on the hard tail. Being surrounded by real trees and riding some of the best trails in CA was a real treat, and something I did not take for granted. And I especially loved seeing all the rad people who come out to this race, like old friends who inspire me. I got to stay with some of the most amazing people in the sport, and spent some quality time with old college friends/teammates. I met a ton of new folks this weekend too, either through hitch hiking, pre-riding, or just hanging out at the expo. Mountain bikers are the coolest people, I'm pretty stoked to share this sport with such an awesome group of masochists.