The White Park Throwdown was the last race of the ABRA MTB series and I was in a good position for the overall win. The course was described as "World cup style" with short, four mile spectator-friendly laps. It was as twisty as a cyclocross course and would've been just as fast, but the mud made everything extremely sketchy. It rained for three days up until the race and the slightest off-camber sections, roots, and log bridges required tons of bike handling skills and focus. The White Park Throwdown was actually a "throwdown" when me and my bike were literally THROWN DOWN IN THE MUD. It was crazy. I lined up at the front; the women and guys were starting together. My goal is always to get a good start and put as many guys between me and my competition as possible. I had a great start, but everyone suddenly stopped at the first turn into the singletrack. It was too congested and all I could do was anxiously wait for everyone to file into the woods. Only a short way into the prologue, there was a big mud bog with some hidden roots that basically yelled, "We are sneaky ninjas that will flip your bike over in the blink of an eye!" I slid out and hit the ground really hard. My adrenaline blocked out most of the pain and I jumped up frantically. I realized my bars were twisted around, so I tried straightening them out. Then I noticed that my brake cable was actually wrapped around the head tube TWICE. How the heck does that happen?! I yanked on the bars with no success and prepared to hike a bike. Then, I gave it one last shot and my bars snapped back into place. I had a mini sense of victory until I jumped back on my bike and realized another problem. My shifters and brakes had turned all the way around the bars! I pulled both sides up to their proper place, not taking any time to level them out. All this probably took five minutes and I was shocked that none of the women had passed me. However, I was really mad that I wasn't able to stay in with the men and see if I could've pulled off a top ten overall. I finished the prologue and reached down for a drink. Are you kidding me? My bottle cage was empty! I realized that I must've lost it when I crashed. My parents didn't think I'd need another bottle just after the prologue so they had no reason to be in the feed zone until after the first lap. I was insanely thirsty and I couldn't focus. After the first lap, I screeched into the feed zone and snatched a bottle from my mom. I actually came to a dead stop just to chug as much water as I could before going out on my second lap. You know I'm thirsty when I stop in the middle of a race! I felt a thousand times better after hydrating and I focused on passing guys ahead of me. It was hard to make up time on such a sketchy course, but I managed to stay steady. My chain kept falling off my big ring and I had to keep shifting down, and then back up. Need-less-to-say, my uneven brakes and malfunctioning bike was not helping at all. I finished my second lap and only had one to go. All I had to do was stay steady and not take any risks that would potentially force me to hike a bike. Luckily, I kept the rubber side down and crossed the line victorious. Although I was disappointed with my performance, I understand that crashing inevitable. It's how you react to it that matters.
I wanted to thank race director, J.R. Petsko, for putting together an awesome series (as always!) None of the MTB races were actually dry and, although it was a little messy for us racers, it was a lot more work for him - so thanks! I'm growing very fond of the West Virginia gang... you guys are great people and a lot of fun : )
I had the pleasure of doing an adventure race called the Kinzua Tango with my family. It consisted of six legs : a half marathon, twenty mile mountain bike, two and a half mile open water swim, over six miles of orienteering, a four and a half mile run, and an eight mile canoe to the finish. (And any additional distance that is added on if you get lost in the woods!) Of course, all fingers were pointed toward me when determining who would do the bike part of the race! It was relaxing to do a race just for fun and not worry about results. Our team was hoping for a top ten finish but, regardless, we were happy to it together. We all got up around 5AM to cheer for my Aunt Molly on the first leg of the race (the half.) The day only became more and more exciting from there! She came into the finish really strong (with a personal record,) we slapped hands, and I sprinted out of the chute. You can't pre-ride the course because it isn't marked until the night before. I soon realized why the parking lot was full of cyclocross bikes! The course was an unpleasant surprise of pavement and fire roads. Not exactly what I would describe as a "mountain bike" course! I just shook my head and started mashing. I believe I passed about 10 people on the three and a half mile paved climb. It was an all out effort and I finished with a respectable time of an hour and twenty minutes. Our team was in sixth place after the first two legs. I slapped my friend Dylan's hand and he set off for an Iron Man distance swim. Sprinting out of the water, he tagged my parents, and they went into the woods with their map and compass. They easily found all five checkpoints and, despite being one of the few teams that weren't avid runners, had the fastest time in our category. Next up was my Aunt Melissa for the four and a half mile run. With only six weeks to prepare herself, she ran even faster than she had hoped and secured our team in a top three placement. My Aunt Molly and Dylan jumped into the canoe and paddled their hearts out. They ended up with the fastest canoe time in our category! The "Cotton-headed-ninny-muggins" won the Corporate Community category! I am SO PROUD to be part of such an amazing family! Win or not, my family is awesome!