Monday, August 12, 2013

O2S: Part Two

Race Day!

I only got about 5-6 hours of sleep but felt really rested when I woke up. I guess I must sleep well in kitchens! Who knew? We were all caffeinated and out the door with our bikes and gear by 7:30 a.m. For as many of us that were there it was pretty impressive!

The bikes were loaded up and we headed over to the Soft Rock start. Kelly started at 9:00 a.m. and the rest of us at 9:45 a.m. We figured we would see her off and then pedal over to our start since it was only a few blocks away.

I think the Soft Rock (28 miles)  might have had more people racing then the Hard Rock (48 miles). Racers were setting down bikes to get a good spot almost an hour before the start.
I still couldn't quite believe that I was going to race this bike...
Finally we headed over to our start. I mentioned before that I registered too late to get a preferred start but I still managed to line up in the top third of the crowd. Ummmm...check out that sweet downtube! I basically just stood over the bike and drooled on it.
More and more people started lining up behind me...
In reality I probably shouldn't have been so worried about getting a good spot. One of my BIGGEST weaknesses is paved flat starts. Guess how the O2S starts? On a paved flat road. It would have been much more beneficial for me to warm up for a long time because when the promoter said "GO," I felt like I was going backwards. And it wasn't just a feeling...I WAS going backwards. As a result I was in a very bad position when we finally hit dirt.

It was really hard to make any moves because everyone was riding wheel to wheel for as far as I could see. I used it as a good opportunity to get used to how the Carbon Beargrease handled. I heard nothing but good things about the bike, but I was still surprised at how light the bike felt and how snappy the handling was. Never once did I have to change the way that I climbed, descended or cornered. Never once did I feel like I had to make adjustments because I was on a fat bike. It's a freaking dream.

I was paying so much attention to the bike that at first I didn't notice that everyone in front of me was stopped at the railroad crossing. Lo and behold there was a train that had stopped everyone except for the very front of the pack. Ironically enough one of the promoters mentioned at the start that they would try to hold off any trains until we crossed the railroad tracks. I remember thinking, "a train? How likely would that be?" Apparently very likely!

Of course it sucked...who wants to stop for a train during a race? But we were all in the same boat and there was absolutely nothing we could do. I did get to talk to a few friends I haven't seen all summer...so there's that at least.

Eventually the hundreds and hundreds of us made it around the train and were back on course. There was more stopping since we were now an even bigger cluster but after a few hills the crowd thinned back out. And then at mile 20 my legs went Vroom! All of a sudden I felt really good. I guess I was finally warmed up.

The rest of the race was a blur. I got so many compliments on my Salsa's demo bike that my head was probably three thirty times bigger then when I started. A few people mentioned that I was racing really fast on it but personally I felt like the bike was racing on it's own. At one point I couldn't help but laugh because I heard a little boy shouting, "a fat bike is coming...a fat bike is coming!"

The race flew by and before I knew it I was coming up on the sandy downhill. The moment I had been waiting for. Do you know how many times I've crashed on this hill? A lot!!! This time I didn't even need to try and pick a line. The Beargrease just floated down and I was along for the ride.

If I weren't racing I would have gone back up to do it again but I DID want to make it to the finish line....
Such a great time! I think there were 70-plus women racing and my goal was to make the top-10 on the fat bike. I did it with a 9th place finish! I think next year I can do even better if I practice starts on flat paved roads for at least a month before the race. And maybe next year I can race the XX1 carbon Beargrease :-)

Here are two of my favorite pictures from the weekend! The first one cracks me up because I'm kissing my Salsa's bike in public...that's totally normal right? The second one makes me smile because you can tell how happy and excited we all are in the photo!

After a few minutes of race recap we headed over to the parking lot to hang out with the rest of our friends. Evan told us that there would be a VW van waiting for us at the end of the race with a keg inside and he was not joking!
I suppose we could have washed off but that seemed like too much hassle...
After who knows how long we finally got motivated to pedal into town for some Mexican food! We basically travelled in a pack the entire weekend and it was a lot of fun. Plus we were all dirty and sweaty so it felt completely normal to sit in a restaurant with dirt on our faces!
The rest of the evening went by too quickly. Lots of fun and lots of cheering for friends at the award ceremony. Another fun weekend that flew by. I felt like I was barely able to blink before it was time to head back to where we came from...
As fun as it was I'm really happy to be home with Scott, Ben and Naomi. I'm only home for a few days so I'm trying to make the most of my time with them. Then I'll be switching gears....to one!

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