Monday, June 8, 2015

Go Pro Mountain Games (The Best Worst Race)

Go Pro Mountain Games was a race I looked forward to for a long time. Traveling to Vail, CO at the beginning of June, after a nice long mid-season lull in racing sounded like a fun way to jump back into things. Plus the whole event looked ridiculously fun, SUP races down white water rapids, bouldering, slack line competitions, and dogs jumping off piers? How cool is that?!

What I didn't plan for when I booked my plane tickets, and registered for the XC race was coming down with a head cold two days before the race, a flight into Denver that was extended 2 hours because of weather with a screaming child next to me, and my brother waking me up at 5am on Sat morning (after going to bed at 12:30am). These are not the ingredients of a successful travel heavy race weekend. 

But, I already paid my way to Colorado, so I figured what the heck, why not jack myself up on coffee, drive out to Vail (2 hours from said brother's house) and give this bike race my best shot. And I'm so freaking glad I did. Here are some highlights of the race/day in Vail at the Go Pro Games.
The first things I stumbled across when I arrived in Vail looking for a port-a-potty and registration was a massive 100 person yoga session out in the open, and a kid doing stunts on a slack line over white water rapids. These people take outdoor recreation very seriously!

Right as it was time to warm up, the rain came. Cold, wet rain. With a head cold, and no sleep... Oddly enough though, the warm up put me in a much better mood (despite the wet kit and burning lungs from elevation). By the end of my 20ish minutes of openers and riding around I was super stoked on bikes!

The race started a little slower than a US Cup race would have, but I soon realized that was because of the muddy trails/fire roads and the elevation. I was sitting pretty comfortably in 4th on Evelyn's wheel when a really slick section of the climb forced us all to jump off our bikes and run. You would think with all the hike-a-bike-ing I've done with the rads I would crush the running section of the race, but this one stupid 100 yard section of trail caused a gap to open up, and I was never able to fill it. I could feel the elevation burning in my throat and lungs when I was running... it hurt. (stole that great mud picture, thanks Linda Guerrette)
What else hurt like crazy was that stupid climb. The course was basically half up and half down hill. The up was excruciating, and about 2/3 of the way into the climb on the first lap I promised myself I would drop out when I got to the bottom. My throat hurt, my head hurt, and it seemed silly to be throttling myself with a head cold and no sleep. 
(Photo cred Linda Guerrette)
THEN the descent happened, holy crap! The trail network back down the mountain was just a non-stop fun, flow trailesq blast full of perfectly bermed turns, little jumps and rocky rooty goodness. I was giggling pretty much the entire way down. At the bottom I decided it didn't matter if everyone in the race passed me, I would do that climb two more times if it meant I got to descend that trail twice as well!

Somehow I was able to hold onto 4th place through the second and third laps (did I mention 1400 ft of climbing on each lap at about 8000 ft above sea level?) thoroughly enjoying the descent each time, and really destroyed my lungs and throat on lap three. 

I think bike racing might be like giving birth, because the agony you feel in the race is so quickly forgotten by the feeling of elation when you cross the finish line. Bonus is when your pseudo team mate wins the race!

ITS THE BEST DAY!!! How I feel after every bike race. 
The rest of the day was spent unsuccessfully searching for something to eat in Vail (everything was either ungodly expensive or there was a 2 hour wait), and crying on a bus stop bench because I was so exhausted/hungry and I had to wait till 3:30 for the podium. It was a pretty pathetic sight, but I did buy fried chicken on the drive back to Denver and ate it like a wild animal on I-70. 

Other random highlights include the good people of CO calling me smiley when they cheered for me, that made my day because that's my CA nickname. And getting to see my cutest ever niece and nephew. My brother seriously makes the cutest kids. Ever.

And then I had to head back to CA at 8am on Sunday, which means it was basically the shortest, most exhausting weekend of my life! And I would do it again in a heart beat!

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