I had such a good experience at the last WEMS race (except for those lousy rocks) that I decided to give the Alpine Valley race a shot. It is relatively close (if you consider 2 hours close) and a few of my Skunkworks teammates were planning to race as well. I’ve never ridden up at AV but I heard it was fun…and had a lot of climbing. But really, how much climbing could there be in Wisconsin? I was about to find out.
Of course I had a snafu that morning- the seal on my front tire gave out and I had to (er, Eric had to) put a tube in. NOT what I had planned for! Given my new-found love for low tire pressure this wasn’t an awesome situation
I drove up by myself and rocked out to some vintage 90’s tunes for motivation. By the time I arrived it was already pretty warm and tried to stay as hydrated as a possible. At the last race the course was very bumpy and didn’t allow many spots to drink/eat, plus I lost a bottle on lap two. This time around I staged two extra bottles at the start along with a pack of delicious Honey Stinger chews, just in case. My race food game improved as well- I made up a gel flask and kept HS chews (protein and regular) loose in my pocket. For the curious- no, they don’t get all gummy and yes, they probably get dirt and who knows what else on them. You’ve eaten worse, trust me. You know what does gum up a jersey pocket? A half-opened gel. Especially when you forget about it and don’t wash your jersey for a few days…and that’s why I’m using a flask from now on.
Anyway…I met up with Becky and Amy and we warmed up on a bit of the course, and then on the road. You’d think that a 3-hour race wouldn’t require much of a warm up, but that first lap isn’t very slow especially when you’re in the mix with fast men.
We started the race on a grassy hill and I totally fumbled the entrance to the singletrack. Embarrassing! A nice guy behind me said “Shake it off” while the rest of the group was probably like “F&**!!”. I am still getting used to MTB racing again, and having folks 6″ from my front and rear tire while riding fast on is a little unnerving. My technical skills are currently
rusty mediocre terrible so that wasn’t helping either. Fortunately the crowd thinned out after a few miles and I could settle into my own pace for most part. Not surprisingly, that fast gal from WI passed me and then another gal. I knew #1 is nearly impossible for me to catch but #2? Maybe. I don’t know anything about her but maybe she’s isn’t some pro (she looked like one though!). So I tried as hard as I could to keep her within reach, getting really close on the climbs, and then she’d lose me on the descents. After lap two I was feeling pretty good still and had plenty of time for a third so we pressed on after a quick bottle swap. The #2 gal started to tire on the initial climb and I figured it time to move on, although riding with her was nice. So I did, and pushed the pace a bit to get some distance between us. 8 miles doesn’t sound like much, but with 1000 ‘ of climbing along with all the twists and turns it made for a long lap. My bottle was empty halfway though and I was SO happy to see the final descent to the finish line. To my surprise I had about 20 minutes to spare. I ended up in second place in the 3-hour division.
I’m really happy with how the race played out- my strategy is improving ever-so-slightly and my climbing fitness is OK even though we have no hills here. I think I may pass on the next WEMS race in favor of Camrock…I’m excited to try a WORS race and I hear this one is good. Look out for a big group of Skunkworks ladies in sweet kits!!
My coach wrote a nice blog post about my season so far- check it out on the Training Bible Cycling website!