I slept pretty well the night before the race, but woke up a few times to the sound of rain. I wasn't surprised. I had been watching the weather report all week, and the chance of rain kept growing and growing as the race day grew nearer. I think it was up to a 90% chance the day before.
My motel-mate Amanda had her alarms set for 4:29 and 4:31, and I had mine set for 4:30 and 4:33. Needless to say, we woke up! After coffee and breakfast I headed over to the race venue. It was still raining a little, but felt surprisingly warm out. I was able to line up with just a jersey and shorts on. We had over 35 women in our class, and the promoter had told me that it was a really stacked field. I realized just how competitive it was when I lined up. For the first time, the entire front row was almost all women. I heard one of the guys behind us tell his friend that the women meant business this year. It was a very true statement.
We had to wait 15 minutes after the hundred mile start so that the fields would be well separated. It felt like the longest 15 minutes of my life. My goal was to go off really hard, so that I could hit the singletrack first. I had been warned by my coach that my L4 and L5 levels might not be there because of Paris-Ancaster, but figured that I had to try!
Finally we were off. I had a really good start, and found myself heading up the 2 mile paved climb behind the lead guy. Eventually I got shelled, but still entered the singletrack with the top 5 guys. You could barely even tell that it had rained the night before, as most of the singletrack was super hardpacked and fun. There were a few loose corners, but I barely noticed them.
We started catching the back of the 100 milers pretty early in the race, but everyone moved over really quickly to let us by. Eventually we hit a longer climb, and I felt like I couldn't keep up a fast enough cadence to get over the roots. I shifted into my granny gear and heard my least favorite sound. The sound that means your chain is no longer where it should be. Aggggghhh! I was in the worst spot too, because the climb was very narrow. I tried to ignore all of the guys passing me, and yanked and pushed on my chain until it came loose. It cost me a good 5 minutes, but I was just happy I was able to get it out!!! Phew!!!! After that I really started to hammer because I knew I had lost a lot of time.
After the first aid station my legs started to cramp up like crazy. I'm positive it was from not being recovered from Paris-Ancaster and then going out really hard during the start. These cramps were crazy too. They were going all the way up the inside of my thigh and on the top of my quads. I decided there was nothing to do but just grit my teeth and continue to pedal. I refused to shift into my granny gear for the rest of the race, so there were a few times when I really had to mash to get up a climb. It felt like one long strength interval.
Although the race was "just" 65 miles, it was still pretty hard. For some reason I wasn't expecting it to have so many climbs, but trust me....the course was hilly! The training Lynda had me doing over the winter must have been spot on though, because I felt really strong.
It started to get darker and windier as the race progressed and finally started raining as I entered the last singletrack. I was wearing my Optic Nerves with clear lenses, but the trail was dark. The lightning would light the trail up often, but that's not necessarily a good thing!
I felt like I was pedaling down a river over the last couple of miles, but didn't need to slow down that much, except for the wet bridges. I'm pretty sure that my Mamasita is one of the best bikes on earth. All I had to do was hang on :-)
I finished with a time of 5:43, 1st women and 10th overall. The rain and cramps were a bit of a bummer, but I still had a blast racing my bike and hanging out with friends.
Below are 2 not so great podium shots. Both Nam and I were MIA (we were too busy petting dogs and talking) the first time everyone was called up, but we made it back for the redo.
Thanks to Barb and everyone else at New Leaf Adventures for putting on such a great race. I'll be back next year for sure!
PS. Check back tomorrow for Cohutta 65 Part 3. Just because the race was over doesn't mean that my weekend was. There was more bike riding to do!