Tuesday, March 3, 2015

That Time Winter Came to Vail Lake (Kenda Cup #1 Recap)

We have had a very mild winter in SoCal this year. It's been warm and dry, save for a few minutes of light rain here and there. That all changed Sunday, you know, right in time for the Vail Lake Kenda Cup West season opener! 

I have to admit, I was as skeptical as everyone else before the race. I sat in the car, complaining about the cold, the wet and the damage the mud would do to my bike. I wimped out of pre-riding the course, and barely spun around the parking lot for 10 minutes before heading to the line. I did eat 2/3 of a Chipotle burrito an hour before the race, to continue my tradition of making poor nutritional decisions right before bike races :)

This was one of the less terrible sections of the course.
There were 4 of us total in the Pro Women's field, Evelyn, Leslie (you know that xterra champion who kicked booty at Bonelli two years ago), some Canadian chick and me. I was mentally prepared to give up my 3 race winning streak, but not willing to go down without a fight. The start was a bit messy and soon we were riding single file behind the Canadian chick, chillin', all experiencing the sloppy course for the first time. 
Well, some shenanigans went down, man passing, people wrecking in front of us, the usual, and halfway into lap one Evelyn was off the front, Leslie and I chasing. Then at some point both of them dropped their chains, and somehow I was in the lead. A few more dropped chains and who knows what other shenanigans later, I was leading by quite a bit, and the thought of possible winning crossed my mind. 
In the meantime, we were absolutely shredding the crap out of a usually dry, fast, fun course. There were super soupy Chocolate milk muddy sections, sections of trail with deep, thick ruts of mud and sections that just sucked away your momentum. There were slippery just almost rideable climbs and a few not rideable at all climbs which we ran up, slipped on the mud, fell down, ran into other riders, scrambled to our feet just to fall again climbs. Oh also, descents where you had no hope of being in control, the mud just took your wheels whatever direction it felt like. 

This was a particularly slippery, no good place to get traction for your feet, fall into other people kind of climb.
Basically what I realized during lap 2 (out of 3) was that all I had to do was stay consistent, not drop my chain, keep pushing myself, and with a bit of luck I could win. When I was racing I told myself that I could get caught any second, so I stayed on the gas, especially on the fire road climbs. What I didn't realize was that Leslie pulled out on lap 2, and Evelyn mentally quit on the 20th chain drop/mechanical. Anyway, the theme became 'don't give up' which actually got me through a bunch of almost not ridable climbs, as well as some super sketchy slidy descents! Something else happened on lap 2, I started to have fun in a 'this is a ridiculous thing we are doing' kind of way. 

Having a really hard time figuring out which 'line' to ride, before I figured out that it really didn't matter. Every line was a bad line. 
It got so messy, mud in your mouth, out of control crazy that I was laughing hysterically at times, and then it was over. I guess you could say I won, but really it was all thanks to dumb luck, and my hard headed persistence, not due to incredible fitness or skill. All in all I had a great time, and now I understand why people like racing cyclocross in the mud (but do they really do all this bike cleaning week after week?!). I'm not sure I would want to put my bike through that again soon, but I had a great time and now I'm stoked for the first round of US Cup races at Bonelli Park in a week and a half!

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