It will be my second time racing on the Haile’s Trails. I found this park very interesting and very challenging a few months back. I knew already what to expect and the only thing that I could hope for would be that the race will take place in the same direction as it was the last time during the SERC series.
When we arrived in the park in was pretty obvious that everyone was riding in the opposite direction!
Oh my. Since this place is famous for its steep climbs and fast descents now everything was going to be flipped upside down for me. Every climb will be now a decent and every decent will become a steep climb.
We pre-rode the course which I found more challenging this way around and got ready for the Time-Trial that took place on Saturday prior to the full cross country race that takes place on Sunday.
It was hot! Everyone was sweating buckets just waiting for their turn. Imagine now hundreds of riders being sent on the 5 mile course in one minute increments. This part was the worst!
The nerves, the heat and everything that you don’t want to have anything to do with gets to you.
And then finally you are off. Quick 22 minutes and you are back at the finish line. Oh yeah I forgot to mention exhausted like a dog for sprinting all out while by yourself on this tough course. I passed out pretty much for some 5 minutes on the grass and didn’t talk to anyone. I found out I got 3rd. It was not a bad result since I do not consider myself much of a sprinter. Happy and ready for a well-deserved rest we headed to the hotel.
On the race morning the ground was a little sticky from the morning dew and my tires did build up a mountain of mud on them and my husband was trying to remove some of it with very little luck.
All the girls lined up on the start line and the gun went off. I knew it would be quite important to have a good start but the moment we stood up for the sprint my foot just dangled in the air. My shoe failed to clip and all I could see were girls disappearing in front of my eyes. Got into my pedal and started catching up but before I picked speed up there were still girls zooming left and right on the sides of me. Luckily I was able to pick up some decent speed, get back to the main field and still make a pass on a few girls before turning into the single track. I think I was fifth at that time and it was the position where I was comfortable with having only in front of me who I didn’t mind of being there for that part of the race.
With passing time I was able to pick girls off one by one. Some I passed on climbs that they couldn’t make, some on the long quarry ascents that seemed to be never ending when you were so tired.
Lap by lap I found myself closer and closer to the front. Shortly I had only the leader June in front of me and I was able to catch her on a steep climb. I made my pass and she nicely said to me “good work, you are looking strong”. I thanked her and went to the technical decent and to the final hilly part of the 3rd lap. I had my moments there and even fell down backwards on one of the steep climbs! For most of the race I had a really great ride, conquered the course almost without a flaw. When approaching the last mile of the toughest part of the course my husband yelled to me that there is one more girl in front of me. But luckily he lost track and was just learning that there was no one there. I smirked a smile and said to myself in my head “it is just me; we are going for the win again”. All I had to do now is to keep my pace, fight the hills hard and hold on for the finish! I got one minute on June and 2 minutes on Candace in 3rd. I was a full mile per hour faster now on this course than a few months back. And no matter how bad my start was I was still able to come on top. It just tells you how long those races are and how many things can change throughout the course of the race. It is a constant battle that we choose to fight.