We’re goin’ XC to race XC!

It’s been awhile since I’ve written, and since my last post we raced out in Glen Rose, TX for the Solavaca Cat Claw Classic. We decided to head out early and make a long weekend of camping with perfect weather and enjoy the quiet time together. It was so much fun to camp again and to enjoy the evenings with teammates and friends!
There were only four of us in the women’s field and the trail was perfectly tacky. As we took off Cindy led us into singletrack and she was really keeping the pace up! About midway through that first lap I attacked on a flat and made the pass. I felt great and ended up riding solo the rest of the race, finishing in 1st! Carlos had a pretty good start going in about mid pack. He stayed steady and was able to move up little by little. He finished up in 7th place!!! It was a great day of racing and we couldn’t have asked for better conditions, the trail was just perfect!
Monday Carlos and I set out on our journey to Monterrey, CA for the infamous Sea Otter Classic! Our first stop was in El Paso to visit our beautiful Grandmother. Visiting with her is always inspiring! We also dropped off Plopper with my sister so he could have some playtime with her five wonderful kids!
Tuesday we drove from dawn till dusk for a total of sixteen hours and stopped for the night in Bakersfield, CA. It felt good to stretch out and recharge! Wednesday we continued our drive up to Marina, where we are staying for the next four days. The drive was absolutely amazing! Neither Carlos nor I had any idea how gorgeous the terrain was going to be! The land is so fertile and there were miles and miles of vineyards, pecan trees, colorful flowers, you name it! We finally arrived at our hotel and got ready to go ride.
Wow! Driving up to the venue was nuts! It is so big! Every single part of the cycling industry is represented with banners, tents, and vans. This is unlike any other race I have ever been to. So we suited up and followed the signs to the xc course. We ended up going in circles trying to find the start of the 22 mile trail and bumped into World Cup Champion, Catharine Pendrel! She was so nice and gave us a tour of the entire course, shared some riding tips, and even helped me with one of the technical descents. Now that’s what I call the ultimate Sea Otter experience! The trail is unlike any other I’ve raced in Texas. The majority of it is jeep road and double track and there is ONE root and NO rocks on the whole trail. The scenery is so beautiful that it’s almost hard to concentrate! There’s over 3,000ft of climbing in one lap and the climbs are much longer than we’re used to. This one’s going to hurt so good!! Carlos has the wonderful pleasure of racing two laps…can we say suffer fest?!? Yikes! Like I said, hurt so good!!
We’re off to check out the races, meet new people, and soak in the atmosphere! I’m not too familiar with the computer I’m on so we’ll be posting up pics on Facebook and Twitter. Come check us out at http://www.facebook.com/teamuranga and make sure to LIKE us while you’re there!

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Rockyhill Roundup

The season kickoff for the Texas XC Mountain Bike State Championship Series was this past weekend at Rockyhill Ranch in Smithville, TX. What it really felt like was Exctruciation Exam Part II! The forecast was promising rain, and rain it did…the morning of the race! Sitting in our hotel room staring out the window we contemplated not racing at all. It was still early, around 7am and Carlos’ race didn’t start till 10. We decided to at least be optimistic that it wouldn’t keep pouring down so we switched out our racing wheels that had Specialized Renegades on them to our training wheels that had Specialized Fast Traks. Still not a mud tire, but better than the slick Renegade.

We headed to the ranch at around 8:45 to check out how all the Cat 3 racers looked coming out  of the trail. As they rode in their bikes and jerseys were covered in mud. The start of the race was rerouted to bypass some of the red clay areas that get real bad. Carlos’s loop was going to be one long 18 mile loop so it was commit or quit for him. There was no turning back once he got out there. He suited up and started warming up. The only way to get better at riding in mud is…to ride in mud! We were hoping with the reroutes there wouldn’t be anything bad enough to damage our bikes.Carlos' Start Smithville Carlos starting line smithville

He lined up at the starting area and they were off! As his large group raced up the long jeep road start he was splashed in the face like crazy from the puddles of mud. The first and last quarter of the race were the sloppiest. The back half is generally pretty sandy so it wasn’t too bad after the rain. It was in the back half that he was in a pace line on a jeep road and fixated on the wheel in front of him. He lost concentration for one second and hit a side wall of the trail. It all happened so fast that Carlos went flying and landed on his back. A few guys passed him at that point as he got up and pressed on. In the slippery last few miles of the trail some muddied up roots claimed him. His front tire pulled to one side and he hit the ground. It was a rough race.Carlos Rockyhill

While Carlos was out on his adventure race, I was back at the car getting myself ready. My start was scheduled for noon, but the rain delays from earlier had carried over to our start time and it was now changed to 12:20. I rode around and tried to get a warm up in near the finish area so I could see Carlos come through. He rolled in and it was about five after twelve. I got in a few more quick sprints and lined up.

I saw several new faces, which is really exciting to see the sport growing in the women’s field. Our course was originally supposed to be around 3.8-4 miles and we were racing four laps. Like the other Categories, our start was also rerouted up the jeep road along with a few other sections through the trail. When the whistle blew we quickly formed a line going up the road and I was in third behind Christina and Jessica. When I looked back at the top of the climb we had a pretty good gap from the rest of the group. Lisa DH RockyhillThe trail wasn’t too slick for the first few miles, but the mud on a few climbs felt like it grabbed ahold of your tires and didn’t want to let go. My bike felt so heavy! I had lost sight of Christina and Jessica midway through the first lap and I rode solo the rest of the race. The last few miles of the loop I was starting to regret not taking up cyclocross this winter! I was sliding around like crazy on two sections called “The Grind” which is a big dip, and “The Wall” which is a REALLY BIG DIP! When I saw the tire of the guy in front of me going side to side at the bottom of The Grind I knew I needed to be extra careful. The whole area was really tricky with some off camber turns and wet red clay.Lisa The Grind Rockyhill Lisa Rockyhill

Each lap I could see the leaders on the other side of the trail, each of us hammering in opposite directions on the jeep road, I was heading toward the start/finish and they were going out on their next lap. On my final lap as I was passing a lapped rider I caught a glimpse of an Austin Flyer’s Kit through the trees. I didn’t have any room to let up! Not ever looking back I kept pressed the pace and crossed the finish line seven seconds before Kate Sherwin (Austin Flyer’s.) It was an awesome race with some great competitors!

Podium SmithvilleI am really excited to see such growth in the amount of women that are coming out! There is so much talent here in Texas and I know had there not been any rain that morning even more girls would have been racing.  I’m pretty happy with the results of this race, especially with the conditions, and my training is right on track!  I’m excited to continue to get stronger and to see how the year unfolds.  2013 is going to be full of BIG goals and BIG races!

Wow! That was FUN!!!

Well, Winter decided to show up on the first race weekend! Holy Moses it was 30 something degrees and felt like 20 something! I don’t know about you guys, but I come from the El Paso desert and that was COLD!!! So we drove into town midday Saturday to pre-ride a couple of laps. The trail had quite a bit of rain about a week or a week and a half before this race, and not to mention a 12 hour race last weekend in the muddy mess.  Thanks to all the Paydirters out there who put in several hours throughout the week to get the trail in tip-top amazing shape! It couldn’t have been any better to rail corners and pedal your bike! Based off our pre-ride I knew this was going to be a FAST race, and it was! Normally we would campout, but with this crazy weather we dished out the extra cash for a motel. In the morning we had the motel breakfast of champions….WAFFLES! Our start time was 11am, but several guys and gals on our team were starting at 9am so we rolled out early to cheer them on.

There ended up being five other girls lined up with me at the starting line. One was Jessica Rawlins who is the 2011 Cat 1 19-39 State Champion, and the other was Christina Gokey-Smith, Jessica’s coach and also Professional Road Racer for NOW and Novartis for MS cycling team. This was also the first time that they launched a group of guys with us girls at the start. Not only that, but there seemed to be no countdown at the start, just a loud, “GO!” It all caught me by surprise and I missed my pedal badly. As I fumbled around trying to get clipped in on this uphill start all the guys behind me started passing and I got caught in the middle of it all not being able to move up in the field. As soon as it opened up a little bit I charged to bridge the gap the best I could back to Christina and went into the single track in 3rd right behind Jessica. This is pretty much how the entire race was. Since Christina had the hole shot we went into the trail already behind. Jessica and I flip-flopped a few times holding 2nd and 3rd place the whole race. I felt great! Jessica was in front of me as we entered the last section of single track and I knew I had to stay as close to her wheel as possible if I was going to be able to have a chance at taking second. The final right hand turn popping out of the trail came quick and so did the finish line! There just weren’t enough yards to out sprint her. We both made the turn, got off our saddles and sprinted, and she crossed the line one second in front of me! It was such an AWESOME race! Christina finished one minute and thirty seconds in front of us.

Carlos’ field was 42 deep. There was a small crash about 100 yards from the start that he got tangled behind and ended up going into single track about 36th. He did the best he could to pass as many guys as he could and ended up in 19th. His legs felt great and sometimes things out of your hands will get in the way. All in all this race is a great benchmark to know how much our winter training has paid off!

Here are just a few pics and we will have more to come!!!