Fall is HERE!!!!!!!! My favorite time of year! The last race of the TMBRA Texas State Championship Series is a week and a half away, and that will conclude three and a half years of racing in the books. Oh how time flies!
Three weeks ago was the Dave Boyd Huntsville Classic. Throughout the entire spring we were super spoiled by staying in hotels because of the constant racing, week after week, . It was time to break out the camping gear and enjoy mother earth a little bit deeper. All of the previous TMBRA Fall Series race venues (Huntsville, Ruston, Tyler) always bring back such sweet memories! This is where our TMBRA family began to form, and new friendships blossomed. Not everyone likes Huntsville because of its lack of elevation gain, and “technical” features, if you don’t want to include ginormous piles of sand and roots as “technical.” That is basically what Huntsville is, a SUPER fast, rooty, sandpit. Which, by the way, is perfect for taking a spill in. I got to experience that sand one on one right in my face! I just don’t understand why anybody wouldn’t enjoy going that fast on a mountain bike no matter how “non-technical” it is. As long as the rubber is rolling on dirt I’m a happy camper!
Carlos’ race went really well! He got a solid start going into the trees somewhere around top ten. Through out the race he began to move up little by little and next thing he knew he was rolling through the finish in fifth in a stacked field of nineteen guys!!! Oh man, it was so exciting! I can’t even describe how much my heart was jumping with joy!
For the Women’s Pro field we had SEVEN girls! I know to all you boys this seems like a puny number, but that’s HUGE for us! So awesome to see cycling really start to grow for us women. We have, hands down, the most AMAZING support here in Texas! In numerous races there has been an added payout for the women and not only that, but this past weekend in Ruston, LA there was equal prize money for the Pro Men’s and Women’s Categories! WOW! I’d like say a huge THANK YOU to Jennifer Behling for making this happen right out of her own pocket! And ladies and gentlemen, this is not the first time she has contributed to the women’s prize money. With that being said, my race in Huntsville was fast and FUN! Yes, I got to eat a little bit of dirt, but pushing yourself to the limit is always a blast! I walked away with the win, a nice envelope filled with a little green, a jar filled with a little sand, and an awesome Muscle Milk backpack now filled with a little cycling stuff!
Now Ruston was the real adventure! This is really one of our favorite races and trails of all time. Park Ranger James Ramsaur really knows how to keep a trail in tip-top condition. It’s so awesome that they even blow the trail off to clear it of leaves and pine needles! Between that, the flowy burms, the screaming Tomac Hill, beautiful scenery, pristine soil, and race organization to absolute perfection with Tobin and Jennifer…why wouldn’t you make the drive to the piney woods in Louisiana?
We got the earliest start for the weekend that we could and arrived at the park around 3:30pm Friday, set up camp, and hit the trail. It was all the bit of fun that I remembered! Saturday morning after breakfast and coffee we went out for one last pre-ride before resting up for the Tomac Hill Time Trial (TT) that evening. I was the only girl to do the TT, which was absolutely absurd to me because there was even a payout. So I got to have a little under ten minutes of fun riding my bike as fast as I could and I got paid for it!!! Score! I have to say that I was a bit nervous starting out on Tomac Hill where all eyes are on you and the penalty for failure is pretty high. But I cleaned the drop and had a smooth ride, so I was a happy camper!
Now Sunday was a different story. The forecast was predicting a high chance of rain overnight Saturday and through Sunday morning. We were crossing our fingers that the weather man would be wrong, as they normally are (sorry weather man, but it’s the truth.) Before bed we cleaned up camp, left out only what we would need in the morning, and put our bikes along with everything else under our canopy. This was going to be our first time camping in the rain, and it started to come down pretty early. At some point in the night I got out of the tent to tinkle and on my way back, checked out how the canopy was holding up…not very good! Uh oh! There was so much water that it starting caving in on both sides and water was dripping on my bike! So Carlos adjusted the straps and fortunately that fixed the problem before it got ugly. I finally got some good sleep towards the end of the night.
My favorite husband got up early and woke me up with my coffee and oatmeal. What can I say girls, I picked a good one! So we sat in our tent having breakfast waiting for the rain to settle down. It was perfect timing when it stopped, giving us just enough time to tear down our entire campsite, load up the truck, get ready and then realize that our start was earlier than we had thought…oops! So our warmup was pretty non-existent, which is never fun (or good) to start a race cold. But it was what it was.
There were only two of us in the women’s pro field, Jen and myself. I knew that I didn’t really want to be full throttle for this race because the muddy conditions are still very new to me. The soil is similar to that of Tyler State Park, which I have ridden in the rain before, but I was still a little hesitant to just open up. So I pretty much just kept a steady pace for the whole race. Carlos’ category started two minutes behind us. In my first lap a few of his guys passed me and shortly after Carlos came by. He was looking strong and had a good pace going in third place. When he passed, he told me his water bottle had popped out of his cage. Uh! Not good. As the race went on it rained on and off a few times and the trail was getting sloppier and sloppier. I was in the middle of my second lap when I saw Carlos’ jersey in the distance for the first time since he had gone by me earlier. I didn’t know what was going on because I knew I wasn’t going any faster than before. I was going back and forth with James, who was in fourth right behind Carlos. Without knowing what Carlos’ race had fully been like, the last thing I wanted to see was us catch up to him and him lose his position. Well, what I didn’t know was that he had slipped on some roots and hit the ground hard in his first lap. All in all he was okay, just got twisted pretty good. This, in addition to nearly an hour of race pace with no water, and then trying to make up time on the second lap with a super slippery back tire on the climbs made out for him hitting the wall. In the last mile of the trail James rode by him to take third. Carlos and I crossed the line together, him in fourth and myself in first.
Although it wasn’t the race he had visualized, he still made out with a solid finish, and I had SO MUCH FUN! I know not everyone may feel the same, but I thought the mud was a blast to slide around in! You really got to test your limits in the corners and pray that the mud or slippery roots wouldn’t claim you. We were dirty as could be, and our bikes needed a whole lotta tender loving care, but it was well worth it! So many memories come from races like this, and they are ones you’ll never forget.
One more XC race for the year in Tyler next weekend will wrap up the season. Hope to see everyone out there…this is one you don’t want to miss!