Pace Bend…Bluebonnets, Bikes, and Good Times!

Welcome to Pace Bend

Two Thursday’s ago Carlos and I pulled our camper down to Spice Wood, TX. Sunday was the fifth race of the Texas Mountain Bike Cross Country State Championship Series at Pace Bend Park. We had the extra time so we decided to get away from Dallas early, hang out with friends and teammates, ride our little hearts out, and just have a heck of a good time.

Kisses!!

 

Fun in the sun!

Sonya and I roaming around through the fields of Bluebonnets

The forecast was not looking promising and there was a high chance of rain predicted for the entire weekend. Luckily, we had absolutely PERFECT weather the enitre weekend…until we got to the starting line on Sunday morning. That’s when it started misting steadily. The soil at Pace Bend actually holds water really well, but the small limestone rocks are a bear with even the slightest moisture. The course this year was being run in the reverse direction than the normal flow, and therefore different than the previous years we’ve raced it. Because of this change, the first three miles of the race was now constant limestone, which translates to wet, slippery rocks.

The women’s pro field was a bit smaller this time with only six of us lining up, but strong contenders none the less. My goal was to be first into singletrack so that I had the trail to myself without any distractions. My plan worked perfectly as I lead our group up the mile and a half climb and was first into the trail. The rocks were everything I expected them to be, SUPER SLIPPERY! I was extremely thankful to be at the front because I definitely had to put a foot down more than once to save myself from hitting the ground. It felt so chaotic. Many times I look for rocks in the trail that I can just pop over for a faster line, but now I found myself having to change my mind frame. I needed to look for dirt, and there really wasn’t much of that in those first few miles. After getting out of the first long rocky section, I started to finally catch some speed and opened up. Next thing I knew, I was coming around a corner and there was another six foot patch of baby head limestone. I braked right before I approached it to shave off some speed, and once I got through it, I heard the terrible sound of the girl behind me hitting the ground. I slowed down and yelled to see if she was okay, but she wasn’t answering. I yelled again and still no answer. Finally I came to a complete stop and shouted a third time. This time she responded but I couldn’t understand what she said. The poor thing had gotten the air completely knocked out of her. Two more girls in our group, Fiona and Sarah, have now caught up to us and since they were closer to her, I ask them to check up on her. Once I got the thumbs up that she was okay to ride out by herself, the three of us continued our race together.

Not like anyone is ever really a “fan” of crashing, but I have had my fair share of wipeouts to know that I was NOT willing to go down that day! For the remainder of that lap I was hesitant, tense, and basically everything you DON’T want to be when you’re riding your bike. My legs were strong, but that does you no good when you’re tip toeing through slick rocks and roots. At some point I bobbled and Fiona came around me. I stayed close to her through the woods and a few miles later I turned the corner to see her on the ground. She had gone over her bars. Sarah and I stopped to make sure Fiona was okay along with another male rider. She was having trouble getting going again. Finally she said it was okay and it was mainly her elbow that hurt. Once again, Sarah and I continued racing.

Carlos dropping in like a boss! photo credit Sonya Minnerly

Gotta get that smile in! photo credit Sonya Minnerly

At this point, it had become a race of attrition. This wasn’t about fitness anymore, but riding as smooth as possible and finishing in one piece. I tried to hammer it where the trail allowed, then calm down and relax going into the technical sections. Midway through my final lap my friend and teammate, Steve Minnerly caught up to me. I moved out of the way and followed his lines the rest of the race. It was such a blast and my favorite part of the whole day because it felt just like a fun group ride hauling butt through the woods! Steve is not only one of the fastest guys I know, but he’s also 61 years old…pretty amazing! We rolled through the finish line together, both of us in first place!

This has been our second wet, and rocky race of the season. With all the abuse that my beautiful Lust has taken through these wet races and training rides, she began making some funny noises in the past week. So I’ve gotta give a HUGE THANK YOU to Daryl over at Plano Cycling and Fitness for taking apart my entire drive train, and cockpit the day before we left to Pace Bend. He searched up and down for the creaky sounds and made sure everything was properly lubed, greased, and torqued…funny noises gone, shifting perfect!! For the next three courses, the rocks are out of the way and hopefully the rain is too! I’m definitely ready for some fast, tacky, singletrack!

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