So here we are as promised, back from Colorado, and ready to tell you all about it! On Friday the 8th we loaded up the truck and started our journey to the half way point, Amarillo. We stayed the night there and then woke up the next morning to drive to our destination in Lakewood, CO. I cannot forget to mention that one of my AWESOME clients put together a little travel/munchie kit for us with all sorts of deliciousness along with a wonderful candle that came so much in handy! We won’t mention what chain hotel we stayed in, but that candle sure was a lifesaver more than once! Thank you Deborah!!! Carlos had never been to Colorado so it was really fun to watch and hear his excitement as the terrain began to change and the mountains started to appear. In the blink of an eye we were at Bear Creek Lake and suited up, ready to pre-ride for the Beti Bike Bash. The course was FAST with nothing really to it besides a few punchy climbs. It was the type of course where recovery was non-existent. It was going to be on the gas from the gun! After our ride I picked up my race number and a whole bunch of swag put together by the wonderful race promoters the Yeti Beti’s, and their generous sponsors. We then headed to our hotel in Denver where there was no candle needed, LOL! I had a great night’s sleep and got up early to have a yummy breakfast that the hotel provided. We arrived at the race venue pretty early and I was absolutely blown away with the number of ladies that this race had attracted! This is definitely something that we need to work on here in Texas because it was awesome! I warmed up on the road and a little bit on single track and I was feeling pretty good. The Pro field was pretty stacked with riders such as Heather Irmiger, Chloe Woodruff, Katie Compton, and Amy Dombroski just to name a few. Just as I had predicted it was on the gas the whole time! The trail went from jeep road down to narrow single-track quick and it felt just like I was racing a crit back home! Going into any race of course my goal is always to win, but part of growing as a racer is having realistic expectations. My goal at this race was to place top 10. As the race went on the only three climbs seemed to be killer and I knew that I had to push through it and not let up if I was going to do this. Heading into my final lap as I rode through the feed zone, I had just reached down and taken a drink when a little boy, maybe five years old, started walking across the trail. He was headed right toward me and he was not looking up! I tried so hard to scream with water in my mouth and swerve with one hand on my bars and the bottle still in my hand. I just couldn’t avoid him and next thing I knew I was down on the ground. I knew it wasn’t my fault, but I felt so bad for him that I wasn’t even thinking about racing any more. I kept asking if he was okay while his dad picked up my bike and kept telling me, “He’s fine! He’s fine! We’re SO SORRY! Keep going!” He practically put me back on my bike and then gave me a push. I was struggling to focus and was hoping the little boy wasn’t hurt. I started to feel a rider suddenly behind me and I was quickly in race mode again. I gave that last lap everything I had, held my position, and ended up crossing the line in 9th and in the money! We were stoked! Up on the podium the Top 10 women got to “cheers” with our super cute wine glasses that they gave us!
After the race I found the little boy to make sure he was ok. He was actually just fine and more than anything he was really embarrassed for “making one of the Pro Racers crash.” Poor little guy! I was just glad that we are both ok. 🙂
From here we headed back south to Colorado Springs where we were going to be staying for the rest of the week. We arrived at our hotel which had a little kitchen area that apparently the guest before us had utilized by cooking fish! Uhhh! I love me some fish, but I’m not very fond of the after smell…especially when it doesn’t go away! Once again Deborah knew what was up and the candle was coming really in handy, not to mention the incense, and fabreeze we had to buy! ; ) The smell went away and it was all good and dandy! We made a stop at Wally World and got ourselves stocked up on groceries for the week.
The weather was absolutely AMAZING! It was a great relief from the hot Texas heat! We even had to bust out with our arm and leg warmers one morning! Needless to say we had figured out the fastest lines and had the trail dialed in by the end of the week.
A few days before the race we took the day completely off the bike and went to 7 Falls. It was totally worth it and Colorado is such a beautiful place! It’s amazing how beautiful things look when you’re not going full speed.
Even though I have a Pro License, this is the first time that I’ve had the opportunity to live what I would consider a Pro lifestyle. Sleep well. Eat well. Ride plenty. I’m not going to lie, it felt great to wake up when my body was ready, ride, rest, and then ride again…that surely is my goal. With one of my passions being nutrition, we eat really well. In fact we even brought along our rice maker and juicer to juice it up each day! Now if we could just sleep more and ride more that would be GOLDEN! ; )
I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but I have exercise induced asthma so I have a prescription inhaler along with other medications that help me to breathe when I’m on the bike. The higher altitude didn’t seem to affect me too much, or maybe since I’m constantly struggling with this feeling of not being able to breathe it felt “normal” for me. Carlos on the other hand was really feeling the change in elevation. He and I are total opposites when it comes to breathing. Usually he can have a whole conversation on the bike and I end up telling him not to talk to me because I can’t breathe! LOL On race day Cat 1 40-49 men were taking off at 11am and my field wasn’t taking off till 1:30. After his warm up I could tell his breathing wasn’t getting any better and he knew this was really going to make this race tough.
At the top of the longest climb of the course about half way through his first lap he had what sounds like one of my asthma attacks. His throat closed up and he couldn’t stop coughing. He decided to pull out. He said it was the worst that he has ever felt on a bike before.
Since we had been at the venue since about 9am I was REALLY ready to get this party started! The day before we had found some single track off of the race course where we could warm up on and it was perfect! The process to get lined up in a UCI Race seems so long compared to a typical USAC race. Everyone is lined up by their UCI rank and called up to the line. Then they make us stand there for about five more minutes probably as a test to see who will pass out first from the intense nerves and adrenaline building up!
The start/finish area was on a dirt track. We took off fast, headed out the gates of the track, and up the first hill. There was a crash midway up and thankfully I was able to make my way around it. At the top of the hill I felt like I was in a dream. My breathing was calm and everyone else’s breathing seemed so loud around me. It was intense as everyone fought for position on the decent before reaching the first rock drop. After Carlos having trouble breathing and all the advice I had gotten from other riders that have raced at higher altitudes, they all agreed on one thing… for me to PACE MYSELF! The trail was generally really wide with lots of room for passing. I wasn’t willing to put the hammer down just yet so I let a few riders pass me as I got into a rhythm. The first lap was great and then by the middle of the second, it started raining. We had looked at the hourly forecast before the race started because the clouds over the mountain looked threatening. It had said 0% chance of precipitation til 5pm! ZERO!!! What?!? That weather guy should be fired! So here I was riding in the rain, which is basically illegal in Texas, and enjoying every minute of it…UNTIL I came out of the track gate heading up the hill for my third lap and not even 15 feet of riding through the wet, clay-like mud and the cranks just wouldn’t turn anymore! Literally. Stuck. The rest of the trail had been slippery at most with absolutely no mud sticking to my tires, and then in about two seconds I was at a complete stand still. Unfortunately, having no experience with this I hopped off my bike to push the mud out of my deraillur and tried one more time to give it another go….nope. Stuck again. Carlos and I looked at each other and knew that this was it. Being a self-supported racer there are also other factors. At this point we can’t really afford to ruin components on my bike just to finish a race. Could have. Should have. Would have. Carlos and I learned a lot that day as we watched the more experienced Pro’s and supported teams deal with the crazy conditions. We even took video of the Luna team manager splashing a whole bucket of water on Katerina Nash’s drive train and brush off as much of the sticky mud as they could. In awe, we looked at each other and said, “oh, that’s how you do it!” As a friendly reminder, Katerina was 3 1/2 minutes ahead of Pua Mata who was in second. At this point she wasn’t just going to finish the race, she was going to win the race.
For the riders here in DFW, the closest comparison would be like trying to climb at Big Cedar when it is wet. As we walked back to the truck the mud formed almost a two-inch thick layer on the soles of our shoes! It was like walking on platforms! My bike was so heavy and not even rollable because it kept getting stuck. Sad to not be able to finish, but happy that we were both safe, we headed to the car wash to jet spray the dried cement off.
Now that I have gotten a taste of few more races at the Pro level I am eager for what the future may hold for us! We thank God for a safe season and look forward to training hard the rest of the summer, fall and winter. I would LOVE, love, LOVE to go to Mt. Morris, WI in August for the final Pro XCT of the year! I have heard nothing but awesome things about this venue and my amazing, loving, and oh so wonderful husband even says he will drive me over there…all the way to Wisconsin!!! Wow! But unless we find a financial support system it doesn’t look like it’s in the cards. For now, we continue our journey and work on keeping these wheels rolling…LITERALLY! 😀