And we are back to racing after an awesome trip to Maui. I missed only two races but for some reasons when checking in at registration I realized I forgot my racing number! Really, it was not that long time ago! Either way I am happy to be back and challenge a crazy trail system of Florida. I never raced in Loyce H Park before and heard some stories about the Fingers trail. I figured it will be fun, not really too scary and was looking forward exploring a new place. When I went on the pre-ride with my husband Pax I quickly realized that there was definitely lots of truth to what people said and more. Some sections were hair rising scary especially when you are riding them for the first time! You bike on the high and supper skinny mound where you have sometimes a whole foot of path to ride on, roots, drops, tight technical and bumpy descents, almost impossible climbs, roof top like ramps and all of it with having drop offs to the water on both sides! I got my adrenaline rush there and it was funny to hear some people saying that they will never race there again. We all know they will! With more practice the course becomes more familiar and manageable but there was still no place for any mistakes. And this is the tough part when you are with a bunch of fast riders all over the place, your heart is beating like crazy, you are panting like a mad dog, you are getting more fatigued with each passing minute and still going full speed. Oh the good times. That’s why I think we love it. I think all of us bikers have this never ending need for adventure, challenge, exploration, self-proof and self-punishment and we need this adrenaline rush that fills our bodies when we race.
We stood today on the start line 10 ladies strong. When the gun went off I was in the lead which quickly diminished with Jane passing me before going into single track. This girl just loves to lead on the first lap. After a while I was in 4th having in front of me now also Kathy and Melibe. I had to work my way up slowly and keep making my progress toward the leaders. I made a great pass on one of the girls on the steep concrete climb where girls got stuck on the top. This saved me some needed seconds and I was closer now to the leaders. All the technical sections went almost without any incident during this race. I went a few times back and forth with Jane and June who managed to squeeze right before me to very tight and technical single track. There was nowhere to pass but both of them had actually great speed and it didn’t affect me in any way. Until I had the “men’s leader freight train” passing through when the 3 fastest men were trying to get into an impossibly skinny trail on the uphill at the same time as I was… Two managed to go by with me slamming on my brakes with third one being too far behind and just bringing everything to the halt when we both got stuck wheel to wheel on the canyon like uphill with place only for one bike. I did let him go and had to run up two sections that I could easily bike. June was right behind me stuck in this mess. Than I had to bike a roof top ramp with only one foot clipped in and almost no speed. Shortly I had fourth guy catching up and also wanting to pass. I had to find space and time it properly to let him go so his race is not being affected to greatly.
|Little Air :)|
I blame it on a very bad timing and I could only hope all those passes took place on the vast straight ways that we had in between those grainy trails.
Some time got lost there but this is all part of the game also. I found myself falling behind leading Kathy for over a minute being in the 2nd position, when I still had June in 3rd right on my wheel and rest of the girls right behind her. I felt like I was going fast, but obviously I was more fatigued than usual. Was it still the past Xterra race that still kept my body not completely recovered or maybe too much of the riding day prior to the race when I had trouble backing off my excitement for those crazy trails here?
One way or the other my lap times went slightly slower and slower with each passing lap which is very unlike me. Long part of the course toward the end of the lap where you are all in the open against strong head wind didn’t help the situation and just added to the misery. On the final lap when coming out of the forest I knew June was right behind me but I still could not see her in the windy section which made me believe my position was safe to the finish. The leader however was so far ahead today that I would have to have a completely different race to be in contention.
My final reflection from the race is very positive however even though I didn’t snag the win.
I like this park a lot for its challenging terrain and I’m glad I had an opportunity to race here. I enjoyed a truly great getaway weekend with my husband Pax and fun time with my Big Wheel Team mates on and off the trail.
I loved the competition from all the amazing girls racing in my class. What is more incredible that our finishing times were so unbelievably close that medals were presented for top 5 instead of top 3 riders which I found being a great call. Everyone deserved a medal today the race was so close and tough!And the icing of the cake was David the race director announcing my 9th place finish in the Xterra World Championship in Maui while I was taking my podium stand. It added some happy coziness to the whole experience…