It was my third time now riding and racing in Caloosahatchee Regional Park.
First time that finally I had an opportunity to get out and race there was thanks to our great friend Wally who convinced me after some 30 minutes on the phone to take a leap and race once again after a terrible injury. I didn’t feel ready yet and was still recovering from two fractured elbows which finished my 2010 season right on the beginning of it. I was pretty gloomy and actually getting out to the park was a very electrifying experience for me since I had moments when I thought I would not race again. All I remember is the flat twisty terrain, lots of happy faces and the amazing weakness in my arms when I was trying my best to finish this 15 mile course. I was struggling to hold on to my handle bars, my elbows were still wrapped in the support braces and I remember how exhausted I felt after I crossed the finished line. I placed 11th out of 16th if I remember right. This race however jump started my season and got me back to racing.
A year ago in this park I still raced base and remember being in the lead from the start to just crashing on one of the off camber slippery downhill’s and totally going off the concrete and flying into dead palm stump and a big bear hug on it. My ankle got hurt and all the girls zoomed by me. My whole race from there on was a catch up game. I think I made it to 4th. Oh well.
And here we come to this week’s race…
Good part of it is that our friend Wally once again was here with us and this time it is him coming back from a little injury and getting back into the racing environment.
It seems however that I have very little luck on this course and poor results and just came to the conclusion that the park just doesn’t suit me.
I feel there is no flow in those 14 miles of switchbacks of the flat course and few technical parts which go up and down from sudden turns. I can’t get there into my grove and race ends early. To add to it I had bad start and my left food didn’t clip in, I corrected it quickly and sprinted out and managed to get into a decent position just inches from crashing into the tree. I was 5th and after a short while I was able to pass two ladies. I had my eyes on the 2nd rider and still could see the leader far ahead. I was sure I will make some ground and catch up shortly while on the contrary with more passing time I was losing more and more ground and when I got to the tight, root covered, dark, getting hit on the head by the branches and impossible to keep good pace on forest; I had everyone right on my wheel. I didn’t get anywhere. I made some mistakes on the steep climbs and allowed two girls to pass. I did stick with them for a while and was completely certain I will pass them back in no time after we get out of this trail. This however never happened. I lost a big chunk of time.
I crossed the first lap mark in 5th, a good 45 seconds behind. I didn’t take it to seriously knowing I will make my time up shortly and I felt like I was having a pretty decent (not awesome however) pace. But once again I got to those annoying sticks and some boredom got to me on the 5 miles of turning left and right with no purpose that I even got other riders behind me. I guess my mind drifted away too much and when I did get out once again from the technical climbs that I actually cleared just fine this time I was pretty far back from the pack. Thanks to my husband giving me splits and telling me to catch up I picked up my pace. Very quickly I started getting closer and closer but miles disappeared way too quickly. I had only maybe 2 miles to go and was trying to get back into the game having some pretty good speed. When I come out into the open for the final series of switchbacks I could see the 3rd and 4th in front of me just few turns ahead. There was not enough time for me however to make up this gap unfortunately.
I could wish for an extra two miles and girls would be mine; but the race was over and I saw them approaching the finish while they were completely within my reach. Frustrating experience for sure, but also a learning lesson of sort… I can only reflect on what went wrong, hope to learn from it and hopefully come out even stronger for my next battle. If two broken arms didn’t stop me before, I don’t think one weak finish will also. So the game is still on.