Tuesday, March 13, 2018

True Grit Epic: The Bestest Race I Ever Raced!

This race psyched me out so hard, first race of the season, no epic climb, endlessly technical desert terrain, lots of strong women coming out to kick off the NUE season, and most of all racing 100 miles in March seemed like a ridiculous thing to be doing. Having a wheel break during my pre-ride Friday morning was the best thing that could have happened to me though, because running around trying to figure out where I would get a wheel from took my mind completely off the nerves, distracting me from thinking about how to race bikes (I felt like I had no idea what to do... it was stressful).

Van life breakfast = best pre-race breakfast.
I was still pretty psyched out when I woke up Saturday, But as soon as we rolled under the start banner I knew racing True Grit was exactly where I wanted to be. Every minute of the race was a blast, starting with chasing the lead men through the swoopy fire- road and up the gullys between canyons of rock in the first hour of the race.

My strategy was to go out hard, and then panic about being caught for the rest of the race, you know, like I did at every race last year. Again good luck was on my side, as I broke a spoke on the waterfall on lap 1, about 45 minutes into the race, and was pre-occupied with descending cautiously for the rest of the race because I was scared shitless of destroying another rear wheel, so the panic never really set in.

Although it was terribly frustrating to not get to smash rocks and bomb down Zen with reckless abandon the Edict still took care of business helping me fend off the other women and by the end of the techy stuff on lap 1 I was still in the lead. The second half of the lap had a long, peadable descent followed by an even longer false flat, smooth climb in the Bearclaw Poppy area. I had to shift my strategy from gaining time on the descents to throwing around watts on the long shallow climb, which seemed like a risky approach considering I knew how strong a climber Chase is, and had no idea where the strengths of the other women layed.
Pre-riding on Friday with Gwendalyn... I I have no pictures from the actual race :(
I got lucky enough to catch up to some dudes, including a single speeder who knew where Silverado is (!) so I had company for the long back side of the course, and continued to pick off more of the pro men on the last two techy bits of the first lap which was super motivating.

Heading into the second lap I was surprised my mind and body felt so good, and I listened to the dudes trying to stick to my wheel complain about their hands hurting with a smirk on my face.

Knowing I may blow up later in the second lap I tried hard to pace myself on the way out to Zen the second time, and before I knew it I was at the top of the waterfall, through the feed zone and again climbing the gloriously rocky zig zag ascent on Zen. And then I was at the feed zone again, and then climbing the fire road to Bear Claw Poppy (which obviously made me want to eat bear claws EVERY TIME!). The second time through the long gradual Stucki climb I pushed harder, trying to gradually empty my tank, motivated by all the 50 milers on the course whom I would target, sneak up on and pass one by one. I had no idea how much of a lead I had on 2nd place, so I rode like she was just seconds behind me, surprised I still had watts to give and limited discomfort in my body.

Somehow the 88 miles (yeah, they say 100 but it's only like 88) flew by, and before I could get sick of riding my bike I was cresting the top of Barrel Roll and headed back in the direction of the finish! yeah, my hands and arms hurt (this is why friends don't let friends skip arm day), but I really never felt that sense of despair and dread I usually feel in ultra races when you realize you have ___ miles left. The very end of the race was made humorous when Dirtwire.tv's Thom parsons caught me running up a rock problem (hey, it was late in the race! My legs weren't fresh anymore!) and then he chased me first on foot and then by bike down Barrell Roll. It was comical how slow I was riding to try and preserve my bike, but also thinking any minute 2nd place would catch me, but we chatted about ice cream and passed about 65 armatures doing the 50 mile race, all the while screaming 'Hello, it's me, I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet'. Then Thom told me about the Lobster guards in New England, and almost killed Kimmi Runner (sorry Kimmi!), yeah, good times.

A podium with my best bike :)
No joke, in all honesty every damn minute of that race was a blast. All the way until I crossed the finish line and was told there was no ice cream at the venue (the idea of ice cream got me through the last 15 miles damn it!).  I was able to descend just fast enough, and climb just hard enough to keep 2nd place out of sight/mind, and I focused on hunting down the pro men one by one like a lioness hunting wounded deer, until I was in the top 10. From the ripping start following, and sketching out the Pro men, to throwing around watts climbing Stuccki Springs, to singing Adele to the armatures I passed, the whole thing went by so fast I didn't even have time to feel like I wanted to quit bikes!  Despite not getting to let 'er loose and smash rocks with reckless abandon though I loved it, every mile, rock, stupid hard climb and flowy ripping descent, Hands down the most fun race I've ever done.

Got to hang out with this baboon after the race so that was fun.

After every ultra race I win there is always hot chocolate with excessive whipped cream. Perks Coffee in Santa Clara, Utah did a bang up job on the hot cocoa. The only thing missing was Lauren!

1 comment:

  1. I think this was even more fun to read than you had riding! hahaha - "armatures"..."friends don't let friends skip arm day"..."hunting down the pro men one by one like a lioness hunting wounded deer"...glad my friend Steve Bernsen sent this write up my way...one question: are you advocating for mechanicals pre race to take one's mind off being nervous? Maybe I'll saw my bike in half before the next one to see how that might help.