After some post TSE rest (read: getting sick, recovering, getting sick again and a round of anti-biotics) it was time to wind it up again. Nina, Vicki and I headed for Colo-RAD-bro for the final found of super-charged Pro XCT racing. I did a couple of local races in the week prior and was hoping my legs would show up ready for some fast pedaling.
I got to travel with my NoTubes sister Erica Tingey. We flew in on Thursday with enough time to build our bikes and sneak a peak at the course. We both liked it. It was a mix of power sections and kinda tight singletrack. There was nothing exceptionally technical, except for a loose, steep climb near the start of the lap. Though I cleaned it once in pre-ride, I had a hunch it was going to be a no-go in the race. Erica and I managed to sweet-talk our way into a free upgrade at the hotel and we were delighted to have a kitchen and each have our own bedroom. Score!
We got out on the course again on Friday and we met up with the rest of the NoTubes crew – Nina and her entourage, Vicki, Kenny and Ben. After pre-rideing, we did the hurry up and wait routine of prep bikes, food, bottles, numbers, registration, etc….and then rest…and wait.
Our race didn’t start until noon on Saturday so it was a leisurely morning without too much rushing. We were stocked with ice to keep ourselves cool, with expected highs in the 90s. But we lucked out and even though temps were warm, there was a breeze that kept things pretty manageable. Still the ice in our jersey pockets felt pretty nice! The race started on a short false flat section of road and really wasn’t enough to break the field up. I am still riding UCI points from last year so I had a great call-up. I managed to hold onto my position through the first portion of doubletrack, then got ahead of myself trying to make some REALLY silly passes through the grass and cactus at the bottom of the climb (read: run-up). *Sigh* Will I ever learn?! All good, I felt pretty good for the first few laps and had some strong girls to work/battle with. I could see Nina and Erica up ahead and that kept me motivated and hungry. We were doing seven (!) laps on the 3.5 mile course and by lap three, that started to feel like a bit too many. Maybe it was the mind/body connection but after lap three my body pretty much said good-night. I went from charging and moving up to going backwards pretty quickly and just doing my best to just hang on. All good, I kept my head on straight and remembered this same experience last year in my first race after TSE. It seems the fatigue from that one goes a little deep. I was elated/ totally bummed to get pulled but at least it took me out of my misery.
Despite some lingering fatigue from 24-hour National Champs a couple of weeks ago, Nina kept charging like the champ that she is. Vicki battled valiantly but her sea-level lungs weren’t quite up to the 6,500ft task. We regrouped for Mexican food that night and prepared for STXC the following day.
The next day was, in a word, hot. When we arrived at the venue, there was carnage from the Cat 1 racers who were finishing up their XC races. There was a guy loudly vomiting and lots of DNFs. Ouch. We warmed up and got ready to suffer. The course was short – start on the pavement, sharp corner onto dirt, 90 second-ish 2-track climb, 2-track descent, pavement, 180 degree turn back to start line. Nina and I kept each other motivated and I dangled about 5 seconds behind her for most of the race. I like that pink target in my sights!
After STXC was over, Erica and I commenced our final stage of racing; cool down, scramble to pack our bikes, Tetris-style load the rental car and head out for DIA. We made it in plenty of time and hopped on a flight back to the the land of Saints. I still don’t feel quite like I want to but I think each race gets incrementally better. Next up, three week count down to XC Nationals back in Pennsylvania. I’m stoked to head back to the rocks, yippee!