Sunday, October 7, 2012

FSC # 4 - A hard 1st place win in Alafia State Park

Exactly a year ago is where my Florida State Series inaugurated. I went there on this super challenging, roller coaster (literary) ride while there and was testing my, fresh still, mountain biking skills.  It was so scary to me at times, technical and I still had a few drops there that I was afraid to ride and those were hunting me for a whole year. But this time I was ready for anything that was going to be thrown at me!
The Alafia race this time around however was nothing compared to what I experienced here last time.
It did rain days prior to the race and the toughest parts of the course became not safe to race on. Therefore course was altered and instead of two big and super technical 10 mile loops we were to bike little over 3 laps of a 7.5 miles course.
And here comes the start.
We jetted out off the start line like some crazy greyhound girls. With insane speeds we had probably a mile to cover on the wide and sandy double track that led us on the gradual uphill to the fun single-track.
Everyone was so tired but no one would slow down! I reached 190 bpm on my heart rate monitor. Really and this is just the start of a 22 mile long course.
I got in second to the very fun trails and enjoyed the ride, did an ugly concrete drop (one I didn’t have guts to ride one year ago!) onto Shelly’s Loop and was doing very good. Whole first lap seems however like all the girls were right there. I looked back one time, which I normally never do and whole field was still with me. Obviously those crazy speeds didn’t affect anyone and we crossed 1st lap mark one by one probably seconds within each other.

On the second lap one girl happened to sneak in front of me while I was having my nutrition malfunction (gel decided not to open up for me). I had in in my mouth stuck for some 3 of the most technical miles of the race. I wanted to enjoy them, but could not while having it in my face, barley being able to breathe and not be able to drink. Kept squeezing the thing out but maybe one drop would come out. It seemed as eternity but finally I was able to consume the content of the package! Well it was good time to start racing again! I caught up to the girl in front and I was told very quickly in exact words “You are not having it”, “If you want to pass you need to fight for it”. Nice. Fortunately I really didn’t have to since rider in front had gearing troubles and kept slowing down when still blocking me from going around. I stayed there for a while until the girl tried to shift again and almost went to the complete holt, well I said “Maybe I can pass now”, she said “Fine you can go now”. Really, some girls would just not let anyone go by them no matter what and it is a part of the racing too. All of this probably did cost me some time and I was informed I was way behind the first rider by a good amount. Another girl had an amazing second lap, my friend Robin and she was riding in second for very long time. Toward the end of the lap I was able to make a safe pass and now only person left in front of me was leading Candace. I was given splits and it didn’t look good. I was some 40 seconds down with over half of the third lap already behind me. For some reasons my body seems to “enjoy” this never ending sufferfest and stayed strong. I was able to pull on my last lap the best time of all the girls. I was not sure if I will ever catch the first rider; however I knew I should give myself at least a chance. I kept enjoying my ride while I noticed  a male rider in front and right before him was Candace going into one of my favorite and technical “Roller Coaster” trails. I cranked it up and in no time was in front of the guy and right on the wheel of the first rider. I stayed there for a while and she kindly allowed me to make a pass. She stayed close behind me for a long time on the crazy ups and downs that the trail had. I was able to pass few more riders there from different classes and kept on pushing.

Finally, after a very long, hot and exhausting ride I was able to hear and see the upcoming finish line. I was first! I got first once again. Amazingly in those final miles I was still able to make a one minute lead and finished strong. It was funny having my husband there with his comment, after all he didn’t see me since I still was 40 seconds down and yelled to me with a big happiness in his voice “what did you do?!”. I smiled and crossed the finish. 

In those races it takes a lot of perseverance and stubbornness and all those girls have it. Today was however once again my day and I’m very grateful for that. Seemed to me that we all had an awesome racing day and I’m really happy and proud to ride fast with so many talented and strong girls.


And for getting first I got to hug a 3 month old Weimaraner....


                                          Great video of the Race in Alafia by Alex Hutchinson

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