The state championship took place at the Bear Creek Resort, the same place I will be racing at nationals. Anyone who has ridden there knows that the key word here is ROCKS. Tons of them. A never-ending, bone-shaking, tire-shredding course. Since I am usually the one to bomb full speed down a rocky hill, I knew that a steady pace was going to get me farther than going full speed and risking a broken bike, and even worse, a broken Veda!
I decided to race the Super D for fun on Saturday (ALSO MY FOURTEENTH BIRTHDAY) and the cross country race on Sunday. The first race of my birthday weekend went extremely well with my Super D time placing me first in the category two women and tying with the first place category one woman.
Now the interesting part... The cross country race! It was almost one-hundred degrees by the time I needed to line up. The sun was beating down on everyone and I reminded myself to stay hydrated. The gun went off and everyone was spinning out in the loose gravel. I managed to stay under control and keep the rubber side down. I kept my eyes locked on the fastest woman in my category and stayed glued to her tire. I realized that I wanted to go faster and set the pace so I sprinted past her and pushed up the last stretch of the prologue. All of sudden, a few spectators say, "Good job! You've got a nice gap!" I look behind me in disbelief and found this to be true! How, in the first few minutes of the race, could I gain a gap on the field? I was motivated to increase my lead, all the while being cautious on the roughest sections and pushing on all the climbs. I continued to maintain a steady pace when I came up on a part of the course that was different from last year. THE WALL. All I could hear from racers behind me was, "Holy..." and "Oh my..." It was a narrow grassy hill going all the way to the top of the ski lifts in direct sunlight. An anthill of riders created a symphony of grueling noises and, I have to admit, the length of the hill really caught me off guard. Nice surprise, eh? I finally surrendered to the mighty wall and walked up the second half. I felt disappointed as the second place woman passed me as I trekked along. All I could do was seek revenge in the rocky downhill section soon to come. A wave of relief came over me as gravity was finally acting in my favor. I could see my competition walking near the top and I was determined to pass her back. But to do this, I would have to open my emergency can of DARTHNESS. The dark side was about to come out (dramatic duh duh duh)
I knew the end of the fastest section was coming to an end and I suddenly came up on the other woman. I passed her with as much speed as possible and quickly created another gap. Usually I am the one to willingly ride any rocky sections and challenge myself to the most technical trails, but the last few miles are so draining. You have to be one-hundred percent focused and hold a steady pace. I pushed more than I should have and tumbled through the rocks. The woman passed me back and I jumped back on. I should have set my ego aside and used my best judgement when I tried passing on the roughest and tightest switchback of the whole course. Bad idea. I felt my back tire swing up and over my head and I smacked my shin and hip off the rocks. The first thing I felt was my tight calf and hamstring muscles. They felt like rubber bands ready to snap at a any moment. Even though I knew I was seriously jacked up, I would seize up more if I laid there. So got back on and wasn't sure if the state I was in would get me through another lap.
Somehow, I passed her back AGAIN. I was so close to finishing my first lap and there was no way something else could go wrong. You could say that again. A pro rider told me to get out of the way but the trail was so narrow that there was nothing I could do but pull off into the poison ivy and let him pass. The second I whipped my head back to look behind me, a stick went right into my ear. I screamed and blood was now running down my neck. That is JUST wonderful. And I don't even have my emergency darthness anymore. GREAT.
I finished the lap (unbelievably as the first category 2 women) but I knew there was no way I could continue. My pulled hamstring and calf were the most painful thing and I didn't want to risk further injury. My ear was throbbing and the seat stay was cracked on my Specialized Fate Expert 29er. I was so disappointed that I couldn't finish my game of cat and mouse. At least I knew I was a good competitor in the category two field on the course I might be racing at nationals.