What a roller coaster this spring series has been! Yesterday we raced the Bicycles Plus Blowout at Big Cedar Wilderness Trails. With that trail being in our back yard, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to ride it often leading into this race. Even though we’ve practically been living out there on Prayer Mountain it seemed that no matter how often we would ride it we never managed to get in a full race loop at a hard effort, whether it was a mechanical, being tired, or you name it! It just seemed like it wasn’t in the cards. One thing was for sure though, we DEFINITELY knew the trail! This race was crucial in order for me to stay in contention for the State Champion Jersey. I had to get no less than first here and at the last race of the season in Smithville, TX. Well, yesterday I finished in second, so even before the last race, the series is wrapped up and a huge CONGRATULATIONS goes out to Jessica Rawlins the 2012 Pro/Open Women State Champ! These past few months have been bitter-sweet, or as Carlos would say, “chicken one day and feathers the next.” It has been such a roller coaster from having one of the best racing experiences of my life at the Mellow Johnny’s Pro XCT to crashing the next day and getting my first DNF, to watching our fitness grow at the Wednesday Night Crits, to our bodies not cooperating on race day, like yesterday. This season has been filled with ups and downs, but definitely more ups…that for sure!! Now here’s a little recap from the race this weekend!
Big Cedar is a trail that requires A LOT of two things, fitness and skill. There is no faking it till you make it here. You either have it or you don’t. Our training has been pretty on “Q” lately and I know my fitness is improving and we intend for it to continue in that direction. As for skill, I know since last year I have also improved quite a bit but there is ALWAYS room for improvement with the skillz!! ; ) My goal in this race was obviously to win, but also to go out and ride the absolute best that I could and to keep the rubber side down. As we took off on the start I went into single track in second behind Jessica. I felt pretty good and knew that I just needed to keep riding at my pace. There is so much climbing mixed with tight switchbacks that it’s easy to burn too many matches too quickly. We had a long race ahead of us. Coming out of my first lap on a pretty long jeep road climb I started to feel the heat. By lap three I could really feel the sun beating down. This was one of the hottest days I would have to say that we have faced so far this year, and race day isn’t really the best to make yourself all of a sudden acclimate. There was a pretty bad thunderstorm near the area the night before and the humidity seemed a bit higher. All I really remember from that point on was a headache, mixed with dizziness, mixed with my heart rate through the roof one minute to it dropping down suddenly the next, and then continuously trying to convince myself that falling over in the middle of the trail would do me no good…just fall over crossing the finish line. Ahhhh! The heat just really got me and it took me a few hours after the race to start to feel back to normal again. On the positive side of things I was very happy to accomplish at least one of my goals by having a clean ride and keeping the rubber side down. Despite feeling poorly from the heat I have to say THANK YOU to our sponsor Elete Electrolytes for a cramp free race!! Elete is such a life saver in the tough Texas heat!!!!
As for Carlos’ race he finally had the opportunity to get near the front of the pack and had a clean good start! YAY!!!!! He went into the woods in about sixth. He held his position for about six miles or so. He said the pace was fast from the get go which is something he is definitely not used to. In the past he has usually had an opposite experience by starting in the back and making his way through the race toward the front. It was almost like the dog that has been chasing his tail and the day he finally catches it he doesn’t know what to do with it! : ) With the combination of surprise and the new pressure of being at the front of the pack it led to little mistakes here and there. The final blow was when his heart rate spiked up to 188! This may not sound unusual to most (especially not for me) but his HR threshold is typically somewhere around the low 170’s. At this point he felt so bad that he had to get off his bike and walk up a climb. When he got to the top he felt physically ill. Riders kept passing by and asking if he was ok and he told them, “No,” as he considered the option of DNFing. He waited a couple of minutes to let his heart rate come back down and had a gel while he watched just about everyone in his group go by. Once his HR dropped down to an acceptable range he told himself, “this is my backyard and I’m going to finish this race even if it’s just for fun.” He got back on his bike and somehow managed to take a few spots back. This put him a little bit higher than middle of the pack in 13th. Now, was this the result he was looking for? Not really, but all in all, he didn’t DNF, and had a clean race just like mine with the rubber side down!
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. We’re not ungrateful, we just expect a lot from ourselves, and at the end of the day, just like everyday, we thank God for every time we are able to ride or race and walk away from it! Now it’s time to get ready for Colorado in June! Pro XCT here we come and remember ALWAYS,keep the rubber side down…it’s much more fun that way! ; )