Sea Otter Classic Cross Country MTB
Cat 1 Women 19-29
Sunday, April 13, 2014
This is a very challenging +/- 24 mile course. It combines all the components of a great ride—lots of singletrack, ample passing on the doubletrack/fire and paved roads, and approximately 3500 feet of total climbing.
60s and foggy and then sunny
Julia raced Cat 1 in her age group
* Personal - Podium, don’t crash, don’t cry (I aim high)
Don’t let anyone gap me. Go hard on climbs, recover on descents.
The cross-country races were early Sunday morning. Thankfully, my boyfriend has a Suburu and we were able to take advantage of the Suburu VIP parking at Sea Otter! We arrived at the race early enough for me to not feel rushed or stressed. I got my bike ready (well actually Tim Brennan got my bike ready), went to the bathroom a million times, and rode around with Julia hoping to open up the legs and get a few tips about the course (she had pre-ridden it a few days before). The fog was still hanging out over the course, but I could tell it was going to warm up quick. I tried to eat a few more pieces of Pro Bar to get my energy stores a little higher and chug down a little Osmo because I knew I would not have time to eat or drink during the race.
The race started on the Laguna Seca race course and then wined around the track before heading out in the hills. I knew it was mainly going to stay together for the road section and then thin out on the first big climb. I figured I’d go out sticking to someone’s wheel and play it smart. The minute we hit the first climb, I could see people slipping behind me. I decided I’d keep it steady and let a little gap open because I wasn’t sure what to expect on the descent and could use the extra room. The first descent was long, fast, and bumpy. We were warned on the climb to stay to the left as there were ambulances blocking part of the trail (yikes!). So I was cautious… but probably too cautious and girls started quickly catching me. I started to up my pace, only to find that my chain had somehow fallen off my solo front ring. What the heck?! So I had to go to a dead stop-- 30 miles an hour to a dead stop-- talk about losing time! I put my chain back on, said a few choice swear words, and got back on my bike. Part of me wanted to give up. I thought “well there goes the race. I’m done”. And then I realized I was in the middle of no where and the only way to go was forward. So I started hauling--- down the rest of the descent, right turn onto the pavement road, narrowly avoided colliding with another ambulance, another right turn, another right turn and onto single track. I was cooked! Burnt so many matches chasing down the group of 4 leaders!
I tried to stay calm and relax my breathing as we starting climbing up single track. The course was loose but super fun! We began catching up to the Cat 3 men and it became an obstacle course trying to get around and pass them. With 5 of us in the front group, the ability to sneak around the men became a way to drop or gap off riders. A little more than half way through the course, we hit a particularly steep and sandy climb that was littered with cat 3 men. Carolina Gomez-Villafane ducked around, 2 other girls ducked around, and then I got caught. And Sara Ogden (Bear Dev) got caught behind me. So thus began my second chase. Carolina reached the Cat 1 15-18 group in front of us and started holding a good pace drafting them. By myself, I had to work a lot harder to chase. Around mile 18 I finally caught her. My plan was to just stick her wheel until we were close to the finish. Recover, and attack later on. I think this is where the roadie side of me came out and where I messed up. I should have just gone-- moved in front of her and held strong. I could tell she was hurting and I knew I could out climb her.
In the last mile, things got chaotic. Carolina had pre-ridden the course and knew what to expect; I didn’t. We hit sandy singletrack and headed through the tunnel to the finish. The tunnel was full of people walking through it! Carolina slipped around and I hesitated, giving her a few second gap. After the tunnel, we encountered another set of cat 3 men. Again, she slipped around and I got stuck. When I finally managed to pass she had a gap. I sprinted in 6 seconds back. 2nd place.
Racing is mental
Maybe I should start pre-riding courses