The most commonly used word at the race was definitely MUD. It rained off and on the whole morning in addition to the downpour the night before. This meant the course had tons of slippery roots and logs labeled, "Potential Bike Breaker!" This kind of course would show my fitness and how my training is working. The start was a long paved hill that led racers into the woods for even more climbing. This stretch of ascending could give me a good opportunity to put a gap between my me and my competition.
The sheriff blew the whistle and my adrenaline pumped as I weaved my way through some of the guys. I wasn't as far up as I hoped to be when entering the woods, but I knew I could make my way up. Before I could do this, a traffic jam occurred. I accidentally clicked my shifter and dropped my chain. I jumped off, expecting a quick fix, until I realized it was jammed. Probably a dozen racers passed me at this point and I didn't even know how far ahead the other women were. Luckily, a nice man stopped and helped me fix my bike and I was frantic to make up time.
It was hard to make up time on such a risky course but I continued to push more than what was safe. I was almost done with the first lap when I came up on a narrow part of the trail with a huge, wet root. I slid out and went tumbling down the bank towards the stream. (So much for making up time!) I crawled back up to the trail and realized something was wrong as soon as I mounted my bike. My rear wheel was not in place and it was jammed. Again, I thought this would be a quick fix, but the wheel was stuck pretty good. I loosened the skewer and tried wiggling the tire out but I just couldn't get it. A few guys passed and time was ticking away (again). Then, the same nice man stopped and came to the rescue. I thanked him five times and had no clue how far behind I was.
I was even closer to the end of my first lap when some grit flew underneath my glasses and started scratching my eye. I hit the brakes and rubbed it out with my jersey. I absolutely could not spare any more precious seconds!
The second lap felt like a fresh start. I knew the course much better and focused on catching as many people as I could. I attacked every hill because I knew they were my strong points and stayed steady on the slick, twisty stuff. I was riding smoothly and was about half way through the lap when I came up on a woman. I passed her and used my excitement to fuel the second half of my lap. I wasn't even sure if any other women had passed me back on my first lap, so I kept up my pace. The last mile was a flat, wide trail with deep peanut butter mud pits and I pushed through it as hard as I could. I didn't want my competition to pass me back after all I did. I finally spotted the opening at the end of the trail and crossed the line with mud flying everywhere. I found out that I cut about fifteen minutes off my first lap and won the Category Two Open Women!