The Big Ring Challenge

Holy Moses! This weekend’s race was SO MUCH FUN!!! I think it’s the coolest thing to come out of a race and Monday morning still be on cloud nine from all the excitement. The Big Ring Challenge is one of those courses that really gives you a high from the speed. It’s not every day you get to average over 14 mph on singletrack. Pure awesomeness!

Carlos and I had a great pre ride Saturday and the trail was just like I remembered it…fun and fassst! So Sunday morning we were ready! The temperature was in the low 50’s and I was surprised it didn’t really feel that cold. We warmed up in the first few miles of the race course since we were the first category racing for the day. The trail was feeling good!

Four of us were lined up in the women’s pro field, Jessica, Penny, Cindy and myself. The start was on the park road and then made a sharp left into singletrack. On the whistle we took off and Cindy was out in front. Jessica was able to get around and led into singletrack. Cindy and I went in side by side and I started to get pushed into the trees so I squeezed in behind her. As we were riding I could see Jessica starting to form a tiny gap and I knew I needed to get up there. As soon as I could, I passed Cindy and bridged up to Jess. Everything felt so good, the trail, my bike, my legs…I couldn’t have asked for a better day! We got to the second jeep road and all of a sudden Jess slid out making the turn. I knew I had to charge so I punched it and attacked up the jeep road and into the trees. She was able to bridge back up to me and I led till the next jeep road. Once we made the turn onto the road the race was ON! We were both on the gas full throttle. I jumped on her wheel but through the trees she started to put a few seconds on me. She was riding strong!

Heading into our second lap (we only had to do two laps this time) the small gap was staying pretty steady and I had her in sight. Railing the corners felt awesome and you can’t help but to love going that fast! Then, out of nowhere (at least in my memory), I clipped a root with my pedal. Oh man! It was one of those things that happens so fast that I don’t even know exactly WHAT happened! If I had to guess, I would say that when my pedal hit, I came unclipped, and my knee must have first slammed into my bars, or shifter, or SOMETHING in that vicinity, and THEN it slammed into the ground. All I knew was that it hurt…REALLY BAD. I had to stand there for a second to figure out if I was even okay. My bars had twisted so I quickly adjusted them and put my chain back on. Jamie, one of the guys in the Cat 1 40-49 group slowed down and asked if I was alright. I wasn’t quite sure, but the only way I would find out was to get back on and ride. We still had ten more miles left in the race. Ah!

Jamie let me in front of him and was really encouraging as I tried to pedal. The pain was so bad that I literally started crying. I know! I know! What a GIRL! I don’t think I’ve ever cried and ridden at the same time before from this type of pain, but I just couldn’t help it. I really wasn’t sure if I had seriously injured something in my knee and if I was just making it worse by trying to pedal through it. I was contemplating pulling out. I’m not sure how much longer it was after the crash but I think it finally started to just go numb to the touch.

Those last miles were a bear but the trail was so fast and flowy that it helped me to block the pain. I still finished strong in second. For some reason today I’m not that bummed about my knee, even though it’s still sore and swollen, because the race itself was so much fun!

In the Cat 1 40-49 group there were thirty-two guys. This week Carlos had a top ten call-up. He was so excited to have an opportunity to be up front that I think out of happiness and anxiety he missed his pedal. On top of that, you can only imagine that many guys hauling butt down a road to turn left and line up in singletrack can be quite a chaotic mess. He went in mid pack and moved up little by little through the first lap of the race. Right up every jeep road he could see a train of five guys in front of him. They were so close he could taste it, but not having a draft made him work even harder. He finished in twelfth and only a minute behind the pack of five!

We had a great weekend and are looking forward to the Easter weekend break! Till next time…

Happy Trails!

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