Wilkesboro CX and Mars Hill Cross

Since I’ve been rather lax in the race reports due to a frantic month and then some, I’m going to do a two-fer!

Sometimes your body tells you to rest. Other times you justify it by being “too busy,” “too tired,” “need to focus on whatever instead.” Both of these came into play in early November for me. Ending October’s training, my coach asked if I wanted/needed a rest week or wanted to keep going. I wanted to keep going, knowing that the second week of November would see me in Raleigh for the majority of the week and I doubted it would be an effective training week. But, then my body had other plans. Coming into November I was tired, overwhelmed, and stressed out by EVERYTHING. So the first week was turned into a rest week. It was blissful, not going to lie! Then I headed straight to Raleigh, which while I did ride some didn’t get me back on the track I needed to be on. Finally, I get back on track, and headed to Wilkesboro for NCCX #8. The course was fun, a little mountain bike-y going through pine wooded areas, switch-backing down and then back up a mountain side. After my pre-ride I was excited for the course! It was fairly smooth and didn’t have any long steep climbs. I warmed up, but struggled due to a lack of good areas to ride in. I’ve decided that leaving my warm-up to chance is not going to fly, and that all races will now see me with trainer in tow.

I feel like each race has had a lesson for me this year. One lesson being take the spot you need on the start! This ended up on the second row after the ranked riders. I had a decent start, which after my bad starts earlier in the season was nice to see. The start was on a packed gravel road with a false flat, before heading into the grassy/wooded switch backs. The group quickly spread out and I felt ok with where I was. I knew it would be a hard race, but mentally I was ready and excited. Physically however, my body blew up 15 minutes in. Blech. I kept going at a pace that I knew I could sustain and not end up redlining before the finish. Sadly, that pace was not nearly as fast as I wanted, or should have been going. I ended up next to last, which after realizing what kind of race I would be having was my goal! I came the closest to vomiting mid-race that I have ever come before. It was disgusting. I know a lot of racers constantly push themselves to that line, even over it. But I don’t. It’s not my style of racing or training. There may be evidence to contradict this, but I feel that pushing your body past that point can’t be good for you in the long run. I’d rather take a lower finish in the field and keep my body somewhat happy than to stress it to the point of no return.

Overall, the course was great! I’ll be making it a priority race next year so I can redeem myself and race a race I’m proud of!

Yesterday I took the familiar drive to Mars Hill, NC for the Mars Hill Cycling MSG race. The course is always a challenging one, with run-ups, hills, and crazy descents. The fun was added to with rain on Friday night, setting the course up to be a mud fest! I know this course, which helps, and got my warm up done perfectly. The temp was in the low 40’s and I debated on what to wear. I ended up with just knee warmers and gloves in addition to my kit. That was the perfect choice, I didn’t get sweaty but I certainly wasn’t cold! I had a great start! I was second or third going into the first turn, which is huge given the field of fast women who showed up to race. The first part of the course was twisty, through tons of mud. I was cautious and made all the corners cleanly if a little slowly. As the field spread out I found myself 3rd from last. It was were I knew I should be given the field and I even had a little gap on the two behind me. As I headed towards the sand pit (a volleyball court) I knew I could ride the sand, but had to pop up my front wheel to get over the barrier. I did everything I normally do in those situations, but suddenly found myself slammed into the handbar, headed down, with feet flying all over the place! My breath got knocked out of me, which was the worst part of the ordeal at that point. I tried to untangle myself from my bike, catch my breath, and see how injured I was. As I sat there, trying to breath the two pursuers passed me, sailing through the pit like it was nothing. Once I shook off the shock and realized I wasn’t hurt enough to pull out, I worked my way back on the bike and kept going. At that point I was just riding to catch up! It would have been easy to repeat my mistake from AvlCX and go too fast and too hard in attempts to catch up, but all the mud made me have to race smart. Of course, there was only so fast that my now throbbing knees and hands would let me go. I made up one place, but didn’t catch up to my original spot. It was a little disappointing, but I got back up, rode hard, and finished strong. It was only after the fast that the whiplash and headache set in, in addition to the amazing swollen knees and other miscellaneous scrapes and bruises all over my body.

I had every intention of racing NCCX #9 in Salisbury today, but decided it would be in my best interest not to. While I know I didn’t get a concussion from my wreck, the migraine and nausea don’t make for the best race-ready racer. That and the fact that I have no appetite and food is rather important for racing as well.

So lessons learned from Wilkesboro and Mars Hill:

  • Follow the training pan, it is worth it.
  • Get proper rest and don’t drink too much on race weekends.
  • Warm up right!
  • Work on getting over things in the way (avoid crashing and dying)
  • Even when it feels like you should quit, don’t. You’ll like yourself better.

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