This week will be a nonstop action packed week. We leave Wednesday to go to Pelham, Al to pre-ride the ITU World Championship course for next month at Oak Mountain Park and then leave to Ft Yargo Thursday night and pre-ride the Xterra course on Friday. Then Saturday I conquer the Xterra and then Sunday do the SERC Southeast Championships mountain bike race and then drive back home afterwards. Lots of exercise and not a lot of sleep - Should be fun :)
Here we go:
Our trip started with a long and quite scenic 10 hour ride from Florida to Alabama.
Oh our state seems to be never ending but thanks to the project of Florida highway beautification with Florida native wildflowers I had something to keep my mind occupied. Beautiful patches of yellows and pink flowers did accompany us throughout almost whole state ride. I could not take it any longer and at some point had to get out of the car and snap few pictures and just enjoy this simple beauty.
After crossing to Alabama things got slow and boring and if not for Peanut shows and all different peanut galleries and stands on the way that reminded us of our squirrel pet “Peanut” we would go bananas.
But we got there and when we did we still had maybe one hour to spare before sunset.
We took off the bikes, stuffed luggage to the cabin and flew downhill to the transition area. Tons of bikers were heading down the road finishing their day in the park. Oh this forest is so beautiful and smells so sweet. When flying down with speed that we are used to we spotted three cute deer feeding on the side of the road. After seeing the lake we decided to challenge ourselves and see who can get the fastest to the top of super steep climb. That was definitely a lung and leg buster and we felt like it was perfect ending of the long day and headed back to the cabin which by the way was sweet.
The next morning after great breakfast and nice cap of tea on the porch overlooking the lake we headed for the trails.
The ride started with a very fun trail full of switchbacks and ups and downs. I enjoyed this section a lot. Good times did continue until we got to some more serious continuous climbs on the jeep road. This was a battle against yourself and the mountain, where mountain wanted to win so badly definitely kicking our butts. But we did it and climbed to the top just to start flying down almost in instance. When finally we got to the famous blood rock section we knew instantly why this part become so known. It was rough. And after seeing few attempts of my husband almost flying over his handlebars I decided to let it be and leave it in peace.
Next trial after that was interesting and challenging and then we got to the spot when the fun begun again and we were flying down with super speed on the nice single track. It was very enjoyable. After crossing the road trial got steep again and winy and stayed quite consistent to the end of the ride… We finished with a good time and still some fuel in our legs.
After meeting few great rides on the trails and at the lake afterwards we decided to head now to Ft. Yargo Park in Georgia; our next stop.
Ride from Alabama went by pretty quick and Friday morning our priority was to get out to the park and preview the race course. This was another beautiful place to visit and quickly we were mesmerized by the overwhelmingly sweet smell of the whole forest… White blooming trees and honeysuckle vines were everywhere, cascading down every single tree or shrubbery we went by.
We did some easy swimming in the designated beach area in the park with our Floridian friends and races Duffy and her husband Mike. Water was pretty cold and murky and swimming in quite shallow water with a company made things way pleasant for me. Shortly we changed and went for something that supposed to be a “short” run/jog, well at least until Duffy lost track of where we actually supposed to run and instead of going for one mile or so we ended up doing four miles which was most of the race course with all the climbs that did accompany it. The power line climb was brutal on the run and even more brutal on the bike afterwards with totally now heavy and tired legs. We did whole 10.5 miles loop; half of each did Duffy family with us… They were flying on the track but we had not much left from previous day in Pelham and all those miles of climbing. Trails were sweet here however and quite fast and enjoyable, except those few burning climbs! On the end of the day my legs felt like logs, but the next morning I had xterra to do and repeat the course!
Saturday morning comes and I can barely move my legs, I’m so sore. I know I like the bike course, I think I somehow hopefully will be able to deal with the run, but like usual I’m not happy about the swim.
Water looks really murky on the race morning, cold, and buoys are set super far away. I’m still having fear of open water and am not happy about what I’m going have to do. Pretty much 3 times you need to cross middle of the terribly large brown unhappy lake with bunch of people next to you. Next to the start there are huge pine trees submerged and blocking our way to swim out. I stood there in disbelieve and tried to keep myself calm, to the point that I did turn off all emotions to don’t feel fear. Shortly after start the trees created huge bottle neck effect and all hundred and fifty races were stuck on each other not able to extend arms to swim. I swam as far as I could and stuck my head up, ocean of heads next to me in matter of inches apart, funny thing is that I said to myself I don’t care, I’m totally fine and I accept this situation until things cleared out. My swim was not smooth however and shortly after this incident I was short of breath, I looked back very quick and I saw how far in the lake I already was.
I thought “oh, so that’s it, I’m going to turn around now and just quit. Wonder how my husband would feel about it, wonder how I would feel about it after the fact?”. And few seconds of glancing over the shore went by and I turned my head and decided to continue, but it was not pretty. I was very tense and was trying really hard to relax, nothing worked. Water was still ugly and I looked around and didn’t see anyone as far as help crew that could possibly aid me if it was needed. I saw people all around me trying to swim and struggle also and this is when I realized I was on my own. It was up to me to make sure I am safe and I had to rely solely on myself. I struggled little more and was doing a backstroke and looking at the sky and having water splashing in my face and my whole body just so stressed and shivering with uneven breath. I flipped over and was so scared to put my face back to the water and I don’t know why. It took me long time to get courage and a lot of time passed and got wasted this way. Finally I did it and followed some guy on the front, I was so happy to swim freestyle again that didn’t notice that we wired all the way to the right toward the shore on the other side of the lake instead the buoy that was more to the left. I had to zigzag to it and be on the course again, crossed the middle of the lake to the second buoy that was somewhat where our yesterday’s beach practice swim was and that back to the transition through whole very long middle of the lake. I was thinking it will be a piece of cake since I did the worst part already but it wasn’t, I started getting stomach cramps while swimming and I was in the middle of nowhere and it was still far to go. This was once again one of the worst swims that I have ever done. But I finished it and was so happy to approach huge xterra banner on the muddy shore.
Transition went well and when I was leaving it I had race director David encouraging me saying “Go Beata, get them!”. I smiled and biked away. Finally I was in my zone. I loved the course, flew up the mountains, yes tired, yes it was not easy but with every passing mile I enjoyed it more and more. There were plenty of super-fast descents where I felt like a downhiller! I had big smile on my tired face and enjoyed the moment to the point of reaching the Monster Mile trail where I hit one of the roller coaster up and downs and saddle just collided with my butt, tilting it upwards! It was bad, really bad and it happened maybe 4 miles into the ride. I just managed to pass group of riders and the moment it happened I had to let everyone pass me back. I stopped; hit the pointing skywards saddle on the tip and it would not move at all, I hit it again and again until I realized that most likely I would break my arm before this saddle would move. Passing rider that I went by before just hit my saddle hard while still biking by me but that moved it only by millimeters. I had to ride it; I hoped on the bike and continued. The trail still had a lot of techy climbs and twists in the mid and later on last section of the bike course and I got really frustrated and annoyed with not being able to sit on my saddle and lean forward on the climbs. It took me few miles of my mind drifting away with disappointment to have first person (a girl) to pass me. I looked at her biking away and realized that it was not what I wanted to do, I told myself no more excuses, I put myself together and got back finally once again to my racing zone that I did enjoy. I flew on the downs and arrived on in the transition in no time. Run was going to be tough no matter what; especially on the super tired legs. But legs kept turning and I managed to catch few racers here and there. Finally on the main power line climb, the same that we had to do on the bike I caught up with two guys that will company me to the finish like. We actually had good time, trying to gauge the distance and going back and forth depending if we trail was aiming upwards or downwards. The main thing that was stuck with me was the fact that there was not enough water and I had failed gel still left over from the bike. It didn’t open and when I attempted to rip it open one more time before reaching water station, it didn’t work once again. So I was racing for over an hour with no nutrition and I was feeling very fatigued and low on energy. Few more technical ups and downs before the finish and we were done. Race director once again announced my name and where I was from and we had opportunity to congratulate each other for great run that we had opportunity to do together.
2nd in my age group was the final result, which was quite satisfying. I knew however that it was not over since next day I had another race!
2nd Place in Age Group out of 6 - 11th overall woman out of 30 and 82 out of 166 men and women. Stay tuned for full write up.
Tomorrow Serc Race number 4 in Ft Yargo.
5th place in SERC 4 Ft Yargo Sport Class. Wow those local women can climb.... We will see how they do when they come to my neck of the woods in the FSC Cup :)
Today morning I felt like incredible hawk and not in a good way. My legs felt so logs like, so tired. It was however the final day of my big adventure.
|Starting Lineup of the Sport Women at SERC 4 in Ft Yargo GA|
These Photos from Steve Hampton at
This race was simply packed by racers, an amazing amount of good riders that I never saw before. The start line was simply full. I remember the whistle going off and I stood up and hammered. Seconds later I looked around and by surprise I was in a lead. I liked what I saw. I kept pushing. There was flat double track and it seems like I just developed the tail of all ladies behind me that I was taking for a ride. It all lasted for a while, but as we know all good things adventurely do come to the end. And after few minutes of sprinting I had enough and was gasping for air. There come first grassy wide turn and I saw Duffy ( my Floridian buddy) attacking it from the inside. I thought fine, treat yourself I’m done. So I let her go. I managed to keep the second spot when getting to the single track. I had still all the northern girls behind me and I should suspect it meant that I was still too good to be true. Just minutes later in the single track I had two impatient riders behind me. After a while I let one go… I was able however to still keep up and don’t let other racers to past. Actually I noticed I started doing really good and got even upset that I did the front girl pass. I was getting just ready to get her and pass and I got some speed and was about to open my mouth to announce the pass when… she suddenly took off and kept on getting farther and further. All of it was happening on the begging of the lengthy and leg busting power line climb. There are no long climbs where I come from so I didn’t know how things were going to unfold; apparently not so good for me…
Just seconds later when I started gasping once more for oxygen and started feeling little fire going through my quads and I was still in the very bottom part of the climb; I looked to my left and saw something like a freight train of few just flying up ladies going by me effortlessly. I was stunned. I lost at least 3 or 4 spots in few little seconds. So let’s say now I was in the 7th. Good deal. After the mean climb riding become fun finally. It was brutal at times but also very enjoyable when trail turned downward and you could go as fast as you wished. With the passing miles I was getting my momentum and at some point I made my first pass. I thought it was great and later on I remember catching up to another girl on the technical uphill and reclaiming one more spot. I wondered if I should start my countdown and things were going to start just getting better and better for me. This didn’t happen and toward the end of the second lap on the slow twisty climbs I felt like that was more than enough for the day. I simply could not wait to and this ride I was so tired. I remember climbing up at the snail almost pace and using my last bits of energy to make to the top of every little bump, hump and turn that was there to roll over and upwards while on the side of the trail there was a young man just sitting on the chair and ridding magazine! I made small talk, managed to put out a little smile and biked away punished up by the day…
|My Husband, with his camera bags, following me encouraging me to go faster|
These Photos from Steve Hampton at
I crossed the finish line as a 5th rider, which was quite acceptable for my second sport race ever and considering all the biking and racing I have done in all four consecutive days…
It was a monstrous weekend and finally it was over!
|Duffy and me afterwards|