Monday, March 11, 2013
I remember when even April racing used to feel early. Winter is usually long and arduous in PA, and the month of April is when race promoters can safely put on a race without the risk of a foot of snow falling the night before. So, to be racing cross-country in early March (which was really February in my books) was definitely going to be a shock to the system. What is ironic, is that I remember a couple of years ago looking at the Melllow Johnny’s in Texas results, under a blanket of snow in State College, and being amazed that people were ready to race at that pace so early. Fast forward: here I am packing up my bike for a trip south.
Shannon and Kenny did the long drive from Durango to Austin (16 hours) in the NoTubes sprinter (thanks guys!) and picked Nina and me up at the airport on Thursday. We stayed with Kenny’s sister in Austin about an hour from the venue (and close to lots of yummy Mexican eateries!). Unfortunately, there was a bug circulating through the NoTubes team (perhaps from Old Pueblo), and poor Kenny was the latest victim. I was pretty confident I would be safe from catching anything, as I had already been sick 3 times this winter (oh why was I so smug?!). Despite his weariness, Kenny did a brilliant job as usual getting the machines out of their boxes and up and rolling.
Nina and I hadn’t really had the chance to hang out before Texas, so we had a blast getting to know each other over numerous cups of coffee (Shannon and Nina can drink, really drink coffee). Nina is a great teammate to have around, she is funny and keeps the atmosphere light and spirited!
Friday we headed out to the venue and did a couple of laps on the course. I was in heaven; the weather was sunny and pleasant, the course was rocky and technical, and I was getting a real chance to test out my new Scalpel 29er. I was hooting and hollering when I first got going! I have never ridden a 29er full suspension before, and I am truly amazed and how much less energy it takes to ride over rocks. I am so excited for the snow to finally melt at home so I can take my new rig out in Rothrock. I have been jealous of Rich floating over our rocky ridge lines since he got his Scalpel last year.
|Camp NoTubes. Cool to be next to Magura and Cannondale|
A good number of our sponsors were at the venue, flying their flags in the welcomed, warm Texan breeze. It was nice to put some faces to names. Amanda from Crank Brothers was very nice, and is generous to be providing so many pairs of awesome pedals to our women. Jude from Magura hooked my bike up with some new sweet brakes. He was telling me how long he has known Shannon, and how professional she has always been in her approach towards racing and sponsorship. It was very sweet. Kenda was also there, and it was super to see so many Kenda tires attached to Stan’s wheels.
|Jude from Magura hooking up the brakes|
All of these elements, however, mean that the pro cross-country scene is completely different to the endurance scene. I find it really hard not to giggle at the start line, when dudes with paparazzi sized cameras are shooting pictures of your face at every which angle. So much more to think about (should I smile? put on a game face? can I eat a GU without looking sticky?!). I must admit though, it was pretty sweet to have Shannon at my side to take my warm layers before the race started, instead of randomly throwing them in a bush, hoping I would remember to retrieve them in my post 100 mile race state (do you know how many pairs of arm warmers I have lost by following this routine?!).
There were also lots of tanned bodies on the start line indicating warm winter training. Too late to worry whether killing myself on the trainer all winter was enough; the gun went off. I got a good start, but got knocked sideways just before the single track started and lost about 3 spots. I was still sitting in 10 or 11th place though, and grinning from ear to ear to be back racing my mountain bike. I slipped back a few places as the race progressed. Nina went charging past on an uphill (she said she wasn’t charging, but she looked strong to me!), and went on to finish 11, with me in 14th place.Cycling dirt video here: http://www.cyclingdirt.org/coverage/250535-Mellow-Johnnys-Classic-Pro-XCT/video/698335-Vicki-Barclay-No-Tubes-for-2013
|Nina. Photo MTBMike.com|
|Vicki. Photo MTBMike.com|
Other thoughts from the weekend: Nutrition. I feel like I have nailed my 100-mile routine. It has taken a few years, but I know what needs to go in my bottle, and in my body, and at what mile. With cross country racing in such a short lap format I wasted a lot of mental energy debating whether I actually needed a bottle. All things to perfect, and I love the challenge.
Unfortunately, on Sunday’s travels home I started sneezing and coughing. I put it down to “race cough” and allergies, but on Monday Rich finally made me admit that I had a cold. I don’t understand why I have been so sick this winter; nothing serious, but lots of throat and chest infections. I welcomed the arrival of spring this weekend, and I was well enough to celebrate Rich’s birthday with 105 miles on the road, and a fast-paced 3.5 hour mountain bike ride on Sunday in Southernish PA.
I am off to the UK now to visit family, plan our wedding and race in the first British XC race of the season in England. Cross-country racing is not slowing down in any way, shape or form in the UK, and the female field is looking strong and large, with a few big names. Wish me luck!