It was great to come back to the Santos Trails and race here for a second time.
Last year in the base class the fight was fierce and all five girls got to the finish line within 15 seconds, it was so close. This year in the new class things were very different.
First of all the weather was great, nice and cool. Beautiful fall leaves were covering most of the track; weak morning sun would pick through the branches of half leafed trees and light gently the trails.
My husband and I did spend some quiet quality time on the trails here. Took our time and enjoyed the scenery and challenge. The course was little different than last year and two technical trails were ran in the opposite direction. Also a new fast and rocky section was added.
It was a very good layout I must say. From the start you went to the fast 1.5 miles of the course, which turned to 1.5 miles of very tough and demanding Tom Brown trail running backwards to switch back once again to another fast 1.5 miles of snake like and highly flyable single track. After that was a mix of challenging rocky trails, faster sections and a very bumpy rooty and rocky covered tight trail right before the finish of the lap.
It was a constant challenge but also you had an opportunity to recover from the most energy consuming parts. I really liked this course, since it had a bit of everything. Power climbs, fast sections and technical tight single-track and of course great weather. I loved it.
On the start line there was not that many of us girls; I assume only ones that were in contention for overall standings showed up. Either way it was a strong set.
The start was hard, with all of us circling the invisible pond on the sloping tall grass. This took out a lot out of the legs right from the beginning. Then, we went through the shoot and into the single-tracks.
I was in 5th at this time and coming to the first sharp right turn where I saw Candace which was somewhere close to the front just washed out on the loose sand. I saw girls going around her and her picking her bike up and trying to go… When I went around her she said “damn it!” since her chain come undone.
I sprinted after the leaders and in no time I was on their wheels. I felt fast, the course felt fast, I knew I could accomplish a lot today with such a great feel. We approached some rocky parts and I was right there trying to pass what I call “The June and Jane train” and asked for cooperation again and again. It didn’t happen, I kept hitting my brakes and kept backing away seeing that pass is not happening. I got a response “not in the final” and things were left at that. I handled the first lap with no problems and stayed within distance on the technical parts. We shot to the second lap and things were the same.
The train was still in front and I just wanted to go faster. Finally on the path crossing a nice opening I was able to speed up and get by June, sped up some more and ended up on Jane’s wheel. After a while of trying to get something worked out I was told that “there is no red carpet here” and no one will be making any special arrangements for my pass. Wonder how pro/expert guys go about this situation? Hmm… I tried left and right on all those sandy turns and it was tough to pass. Wasted a lot of energy for no reason but Jane kept speeding up more and more making us both get faster and those were all good news. She kept looking back however to check on June and had to realize at some point it can’t go like this forever. At one point I was so close that our wheels touched and the loud rubber grinding noise come out from our tires. We went through the most technical part of the course once again and after that finally Jane decided to cooperate and gave me space on the trail for the safe pass. I thanked here and took off. I wish it happened earlier however since I already wasted half of the race.
I biked fast and was making great time to see in the final mile of the second lap leader Kathy right there just what seemed like one switchback ahead. Another turn and I saw her once more and she looked back at me. I was sure it was matter of little time and we will be next to each other, but for some reasons I did not see her again. She had to use some “secret boost canister” and take off very fast.
I had good third lap clearing the whole course once again flawlessly, however I could feel my energy starting to run low. It was a very long (22.5 miles/almost 2 hours) and very technical race. From 15-20 seconds to the lead I somehow finished little over a minute behind. Rest of the girls were four minutes back and more. I was expecting local Robin to do awesome on her home course but seems like something happened to her bike since I saw her walking on the trail at one point of the race. Also Candace that was currently in the first place for the series unfortunately lost her shot for victory after the bad start of this race. June was now in contention for first but by arranging the race the way she did and not allowing me to go early in the race and putting me on the end in between herself and Kathy, she allowed Kathy to collect 3 extra points and take the series title instead. If I had won this race things would stay in the undisturbed order, but in the race environment like we all learned already anything can happen at any time and cards can turn very quickly.
After all I’m still very happy with my performance and I feel that I have raced a very good race. I had a blast catching up to the guys and having a great ride with few of the racers on the last part of the course where everyone was already so exhausted and just happy to be heading toward the finish and also be part of the whole experience...