When I arrived at Montgomery Bell, I quickly set up camp (luckily, I was able to find a spot away from the multitude of screeching children that seemed to beÃ‚ inundating the campgrounds like an invasion of fire ants at a picnic for double arm amputees).
I changed and headed over to the trails for a preride. Luckily, the course was very well marked. I did my best to just spin in order to save my legs, which were a little stiff from riding my butt off earlier then sitting in the car for 3 hours. I have to admit, a sections of the course were intimidating. I don’t know who Tommy is or why he wants revenge, but I found that section (a rocky, switchbacked, steep section of trail labeled as “Tommy’s Revenge” by a well-placed tree sign) to be the worst. Even so, I felt alright about most of it. I especially loved the “Esses” and “Chain Reaction” portions. They were both perfectly cut and banked downhill switchback rollercoasters. Up until then, I’ve never spontaneously burst into laughter when riding, but those things were better than anything you’d find at the fair…
Afterward, I cleaned up and got in the car to scout out some dinner. Not far from the campground, I passed a place called Catfish Kitchen. A U-Turn was in order. It was awesome. I highly recommend the spicy fried catfish and plenty of hushpuppies. When I got back to the campground, some other racers had set up camp across from me. We hung out around the (sort-of) campfire for a couple of hours exchanging stories about DSG 2009 and meet Nick- the “creepy guy who comments on my blog sometimes.” (just kidding, Nick… I appreciate anyone who actually thinks what I write is interesting!)
Only two other women showed up to race the Cat 2 race this morning. Turns out, they were both in the >30 category, which meant that technically, I’d win no matter what. I still wanted to race, though. When the started gave the signal, I went after (and got) the holeshot. However, in my over-excitement, I soon overshot a turn and got behind one of the other racers. She was tough. I tailed her for a few miles. She schooled me through turns, but I found that I had the legs to overtake her on hills, so I sat behind her and learned how to ride the technical sections while I waited for the “Charlotte’s Ridge” climb- a pretty long one that came about mid-lap. I almost didn’t make it there with her when I wrecked on “Tommy’s Revenge,” but thankfully I caught back on and passed her about 1/4 of the way up.
From there, all I could do was ride as hard as possible. With the the combination of adrenaline and being chased, I took chances in turns that I have no idea I was capable of taking. When I passed thorough the end of the 1st lap, everyone cheered. I was too busy turning myself inside out to smile or acknowledge them. Not far down the trail, I could hear them yelling at my chaser. It was like a jockey bat to my ass. I continued to go as hard as possible…
It was very much like a hard criterium. With trees. And roots.
I never considered the race to be won until I actually saw the finish line, but it eventually came. I was incredibly exhausted. I cooled down and looped back to the finish area where the next woman had already finished. She was only a minute or so back… it’s a good thing I didn’t back off! We chatted a bit before she headed off to ride another loop and I went back to the car for food and a beer. Once prize money was given out, I said my goodbyes and hit the road.
The race was fun, even though it was like its own special type of hell. I think I’m more apt to go for the endurance-type events, but who doesn’t like to mix it up with something slightly more dangerous where your heartrate is pegged for a couple of hours?