Greenbrier, also the Maryland State and Regional Championships, was perfect practice for the Pennsylvania State Championships coming up in two weeks. The course had some super gnarly descents and two extremely technical climbs. I set my sights on finishing as close to an hour as possible. Having raced mostly longer endurance races, I needed to prove to myself that I could go all out for a solid hour.
Angelina and I were forced to start behind ALL of the other categories; so I knew that I would have to be smart about passing in order to maintain my speed and catch the Cat 1 women who started two minutes ahead of us. The whistle blew and I went off like a rocket. I attacked the technical climbs, literally hanging on by a thread and gasping for air. I knew that once I crested the top, I would recover quickly. I felt fast and smooth on the loose rocky descents. I honestly never felt like I was going so fast in my life! I was able to catch six of the cat 1 women. My first lap was just under thirty-one minutes and I wasn't about to let up at all. I just kept telling myself that the lap was only six miles and, after the second climb, it was all downhill. My second lap time was only a minute slower than my first and I walked away with a 1st place finish in the 15-16 Cat 1 Women. I am super happy with my performance and gained the confidence I needed going into states in two weeks.
Congrats to Angelina for winning the Cat 1 17-18 category!
FUN FACT : My average heart rate was 195!!! Woah!
More like 6 Hours of Brady's FUN! I teamed up with my buddy Nathan Clair to form team Darth Veda & the AssassiNATEor (which I thought would come in handy if I needed him to "take out" my competition.) We were the youngest team (ages 14 and 16) in the stacked co-ed duo class full of local stand-outs. 11 teams showed up, so our team goal was to get on the podium. My personal goal was to keep my times as close to "Bombin' Betsy" Shogren and "Flyin' Ryanne" Palermo. Nate had a great first lap, putting us in the top 3 and I maintained our position on the second lap. In fact, he didn't expect me to finish so quickly and he didn't even have his helmet or gloves on when I came through the transition area! I am grateful to have a friend to suffer with so I forgive him for adding 30 seconds to my lap time : ) Anyways, we were holding a great position after 4 laps and I was confident that I could maintain the same pace for my final lap. Just before I departed for my third lap, it POURED. The course turned completely upside down and became super sketchy. Every corner was deceivingly slippery and every wet root had the potential to become your new finish line . I could feel Ryanne's evil eye staring me down and I finally succumbed to it's power... she passed me on our third lap and I was never able to catch her. Nate dug deep for his 4th lap and we decided to end it while we were still in one piece. Course conditions had really changed and I knew it was unlikely I'd make it back before the cut-off. Either way, it didn't change our final place - 5th! We earned a chance to stand beside the coveted stumps of glory, thus reaching our personal and team goals. Thanks Nate, you da best! Enjoy the photos - this time they tell the story much better than I can!
Note: I have known these women ever since I started mountain biking when I was 10. I have been looking up to them for as long as I can remember. It is amazing to be competitive with them after all these years. I have so much respect for these ladies because they are fast AND wonderful people!
The 9 Hours of Cranky Monkey - or as I like to call it . . . 9 Hours of Spelunking in the Pain Cave (or maybe 9 Hours of listening to Gunnar complain) is one of my favorite race weekends.
I teamed up with the one and only Betsy Shogren to form Team Darth Bunny! Mrs. Shogren informed me that she has "old lady knees and runs like a hermit" so I was basically forced into doing the Le Mans start. Yes, she could have inspired other crippled hermits, but I guess she decided to let me take one for the team - that's cool, Betsy (little did she know I was going to make her do the extra lap anyhow!)
I love the morning of this race. It's like a bunch of excited pregnant people walking around smiling because they have apparently forgotten about the pain they are about to endure. In a matter of a few hours, that will all change. Those smiles turn to despair as all you hear are hopeful pleas that the dark skies will brighten with lightening, thus ending the race . . . or the wishful thinking that a teammate won't return before the cut-off so you don't have to go for that last agonizing lap. You'll even hear teams rationalizing how they'll only lose one spot on the podium if they just call it quits. That about sums up a race that lasts an entire day - yet, we always come back for more. There's just something about it. I'll admit, I feel pretty cool saying I basically did three XC races in one day. Heck yeah!
Our strategy was to try double laps for the first 8 laps and go to singles towards the end. I raced the first two laps, which put us about 15 minutes ahead of the second team. Betsy did two more smoking fast laps and we increased the distance between our competitors to an entire lap. Due to an abnormal breakfast, I had terrible stomach cramps the entire race. It felt like someone was punching me every time I hit a rock (and there were a lot of rocks!) Luckily, I didn't have to worry about other factors affecting my performance. I knew I could count on ProGold Lubricants to keep my Specialized bike running smoothly (despite the muddy course), OSMO to keep me hydrated, and Probar to keep me fueled up. However, after five laps I was just about as useless as a broken pencil. The hermit took one for the team and completed one extra lap! We ended up with 11 laps (2 laps ahead of the rest of the competition) and my teamie posted the fasted female time - woot, woot!
I cannot thank Betsy enough for partnering up me! She is one of the nicest people I have ever met - and one of the speediest too!
I also want to send a shout out to Jim Harman, race director for EX2 Adventures. Their events are always well-organized and a lot of fun. Mr. Harman has supported me since I was 11 years old when he allowed me to participate in this race as the youngest competitor to ever do it. Thanks for believing in me!