|Boy building bikes.|
|Proof I was with the leaders for at least one lap :)|
Friday evening the Professionals are required to do a 20 minutes + 3 laps fat tire crit to determine call ups for the big event on Sunday. This is the part of the weekend that scared me the most, since I hadn't raced a crit in 2 years, and lining up with so many ladies who race the short, intensely fast xc and short track races meant it was going to be WAY out of my comfort zone. Somehow though I finished the crit on the podium... much to my surprise. It was a huge confidence boost to find myself with the lead group on lap 3 and 4, climbing the ridiculously steep hill with Annika Langvad, Chloe and Erin, it was pretty cool.
On Sunday morning I knocked out my warm up and hit the start line smiling, feeling ready and excited to suffer/shred bikes on rad trails. After all the cowboys in Prescott fired their rifles (and I bit my tongue to not make a corny joke about getting shot) we rolled out of town, 40 women all hoping to land a spot on the podium, big check in hand. The group stayed together for the 8 mile fire road climb, but right after I got the nerve to tell (my herione) Kate Courtney that I liked the article she wrote for EllaCyclingTips on body image she launched a savage attack, splitting the group in two. Although my first reaction was to try and go with the 4 leaders, I quickly realized I COULD NOT ride that fast, and considering the race was around an elevation of 6,000 ft, I had to be smart about pacing.
|Ok, ok, I know, taking pictures during races is no bueno, but THAT IS THE WORLD CHAMP!!!! #starstruck|
As I began the climb out of Copper Creek I looked up from my Clifbloks and saw Kate! She must have had a mechanical or something, but then I looked up further and saw the LEADERS!!! WHAAAAA How was I within sight of Anneka, Chloe, and Erin!? This was motivating! Maybe too motivating, because I proceeded to blow myself up on that climb trying to catch the world champion and the two fastest American World Cup Racers (for proof check my QOM on Strava haha)
At the top, when we hit aid station #1 I was 30 seconds back, the top 3 ahead of me, getting to work together on the descent, which had a HUGE head wind) and Kate just behind me struggling to get her tire to hold air. I was in the WORST position possible.
|Photo: Bill Freeman the light God|
My pace dropped more and more over the course of the climb, but looking back I was reasonably sure I had a buffer, and once we got to the top I could coast in for 5th. At the top though I looked back once more and saw TWO WOMEN headed up the fire road in hot pursuit! PANIC ensued. The only option was to #sendit, sage advice I got from the fanny pack of Luke, a kid on the Laguna MTB team, down every inch of the descent and destroy myself on every climb.
And that led me to cramp hill, where I proceeded to lay down the hammer and emptied every last drop of effort I was capable of. I could still see the two ladies chasing me on cramp hill, but I decided to not look back again until the pavement and focused every ounce of my attention on slaying the last fun, techy, rocky, jumpy trail on the course. The Edict ate up the technical trail, we floated over rocks, hucked drops and thrashed turns. I felt like a Goddamn shredder, although I was entirely spent and cramps were sneaking in on every part of my body, it was the most gratifying end to any race I've ever done. When I hit the road for the last 5 mile stretch into town there was only a rando dude behind me, #sendit had worked!
|I'm so stoked I could float away on the wind with this huge piece of foam core!|
Then I jumped off the podium, ate the best burger of my life at Bill's Grill, and we drove straight home, arriving by 9pm, bedtime.
|Black and blue buffalo burger = why I am going to move to Prescott.|