Monday, May 2, 2016

Whiskey 50 Suffer Fest

Most racers I talked to this weekend seemed to have a very similar experience this year at the Whiskey Off Road 50 mile race. We all seemed to have suffered something awful, like above average suffering, but in the end we survived! 
So that's the short version of the race, suffer, suffer, suffer, oh thank God, it's over. Hahaha

Here's the longer version :)
I've mentioned that I'm experiencing some personal growth this season, and this race was no exception. Long story short, I'm learning to deal with letting the pressure to perform well motivate me in the right way, without negatively affecting my performances. Most of this pressure comes from my own head, but in this particular race there were a LOT of people saying I was going to win, that I should win... it kinda got to me.

So after the crit, I took some time to step back, forget about all those expectations and concentrate on the thing that makes me smile, riding mountain bikes in rad places with super cool people. 

Photo Credit goes to Bill Freeman who is also a superior heckler!
And that's what I did for 50 miles on Sunday. It started out easy enough, I was in the lead group hitting the singletrack 4 miles in, got gapped off the top 3 because I was stuck behind a slower rider on the singletrack, and chased when we hit the fire road. After some good chasing my heart rate was high, so I started to focus on maintaining position and not panicking about the gap (which according to coach was maybe a bad idea). Most likely it was the altitude that was kicking my butt and causing my HR to be so high, but I was freaked I had gone too hard in the beginning of the race and that I would blow myself up if I continued to push so hard. 

The course consists of a bunch of super fun trails, a 9 mile out and back fire road descent then climb, and then a bunch more rad singletrack. On the way down to Skull Valley (the aptly named bottom of the fire road out and back) I was riding with Evelyn, stressed about how tired I already felt, and starting to cramp. From the bottom of that descent through the end the race it was basically a battle of mental fortitude. I wanted to quit more than I have even wanted to quit something in my life, to pull over and sit down on the side of the road. Instead I focused on sipping water every .2 miles, and reminding myself that all I needed was some mental toughness. I was sitting in 5th place, all I had to do was finish.  
Suffering like no other at the top of Skull Valley (photo: Angel Miranda)
Photo: @billfreemanphoto
Somehow I made it to the top of the 3,000 ft climb still in 5th with no one in sight behind me. Then it was time to really focus on the smiling. The final 10 miles is a super fun descent (with a tiny climb in it) and even though my body was tired and my mind was starting to go, I had so much fun ripping down that descent, doing my best to ride the tricky rocky stuff, and nailing the creek crossing. There was no beer hand up after the creek, which was VERY disappointing, but the spectators were incredible, the cheering at the finish line top shelf and the relief to be done when I crossed the line was unmatched. 
Creek crossing goodness! (Photo: Les Stukenberg)
And so that's how it went, a lot of fun, a ton of singletrack, some ripping fast descents, and a huge serving of pain. Not the result I was hoping for, but I found my mojo on that final 10 miles, and having fun riding bikes is what it all comes back to, so I'm going to chalk it up as a good day.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Your posts are very thoughtful, insightful, and helpful.