I had talked with Lynda about my race strategy earlier on in the week and she told me that I should get as near to the front as possible. As you can see from this picture, I followed her instructions pretty closely :-) And just in case you are wondering what I was looking at, it was the curb. I felt a tiny bit boxed in!
To tell you the truth I don't even really remember the start. All I remember was looking around at who I was riding next to and being like, "OMG...OMG." I was in the lead group. My legs felt great and I decided to see how long I could hang. As the road began to steepen, so did the pace. The group strung out and I found myself alone in the wind, a place I did not want to be when everyone else was working together.
Luckily Eddie came and rescued me and I was able to draft off of him. He bridged back up to a few other guy's but then had a flat, which was a total bummer. I entered the singletrack in first place and was really happy with how great my legs felt. Thanks coach! Once again I was super impressed with my Carbide (a.k.a Tom #1). Gosh, I love that bike. After the first bit of singletrack I came upon the bridge that took me out last year. I hit it without slowing and had a private moment of victory. Ha ha! I actually pumped my arm up and down and said "yessssss!" I'm sure the guy behind me was wondering what I was celebrating since we still had about 90 more miles to go.
Lynda had warned me that I would start to hurt later on in the race since I haven't done a lot of long rides yet and she was right. But it was the heat that got to me first. Holy moly, it was hot out. I think temps peaked at 88 degrees, but it felt more like 108 to me.
Carey and Betsy bridged up to me about 18-ish miles in and Carey dropped me on a dirt road downhill. Those roads are freaking crazy! Tons of gravel, steep and crazy turns. I'm not sure how fast I was going, but I actually passed a few cars during the race. Thank goodness for Kenda Karmas and Stroker brakes. It was nice to feel in control.
The middle of the race was a whole lot o' climbing. There were a few times where I could barely see out of my eyes because I had so much salty sweat streaming into them. I started to feel sick from the heat and fell behind on my nutrition. Not good at all!
After what seemed like an eternity I hit the final singletrack. I have a love/hate relationship with the last 10 miles. I love the downhills but absolutely hate any part of the singletrack that goes up. I'm wondering if the promoters can rework it so that the last 10 miles are all downhill?
Despite serious cramping I finished in 3rd place with a time of 8:33. I am SO excited about the NUE series this year. I can tell that I've gotten stronger from training with Lynda and I can't wait to see what I can do this summer!
I have to send a huge thanks to all of my awesome sponsors for their support. I am one lucky racer. Also, special thanks to Jason for getting all of my muscles in working order. I had strained a glute muscle 2 weeks before the race and was freaking out (internally) about it. Jason stretched everything out and showed me a few workouts to do to relax my muscles and VOILA...no pain during the race!
Last but not least I need to thank my mechanic Jeremy and everyone else at Velo City Cycles. I swear, I am in that bike shop every other day and I could not make it to races without their support. And speaking of Velo City, the first group ride starts next week Monday at Bass River at 6:30 p.m. I will post more details but mark it on your calendars!
P.S. Congrats to Carey and Laura for awesome races. Carey took the big "W" and is having a great season. She clearly needs to give me lessons on how to descend on long, gravel roads next spring. I was also really proud of Laura for finishing her first hundie on a SS. Of course I was already trying to persuade her over to the full suspension/geared side the moment she crossed the finish line :-)