Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Crossing the finish line.
Steve and I drove to Birmingham, Alabama over the weekend to race Bump and Grind at Oak Mountain State Park. We got to the park on Saturday afternoon for a pre-ride and ran into our friend Beth who won the Turn and Burn event that day. Way to go!
Packet pick-up wasn't open yet, so we got our gear on and headed out to the trail. It was fun to ride the red trail again, but we probably shouldn't have ridden the entire 20 miles that day and taken hack after hack at blood rock until I finally cleaned it to clapping by the volunteers hanging banners. (Thank you) By the time we finished, we were both out of water and tired from having driven all morning and ridden in hot, muggy weather.
We went back to the home of our gracious hosts Mike and Maaike, showered, rested, and left for dinner at Chez Lu Lu with Beth and Monty. I had the Andalusion Gazpacho and Mixed Greens Pie. I love that place.
Race day, Sunday, I got a great start , exactly what I wanted. I think I entered the singletrack in 3rd. I could feel a girl getting antsy behind me, so I offered to let her pass. She thanked me, went around, and promptly went down in a turn leading to a wooden bridge. Still in 3rd position on the fire road climb, I was feeling pretty good. Then, all of a sudden, I wasn't keeping up with the front two anymore and got passed about 2/3 of the way to the top. Disappointed in myself, I kept riding with the hope that it was a long race and I could catch back up, until my back began to get very sore. The last 5 miles of the first lap were torture and I was as close to quitting as I've ever been.
Then, Loretta Simpson from Georgia, who I didn't know at the time, came flying by me at the start of the second lap and offered encouragement to ride harder because a "Vantaggio girl was right behind us". I don't know if I rode harder at that point, but I did keep pedaling and my back loosened up while descending Johnson's Mountain. It allowed me to finish the race with a strong effort, catching and passing Loretta on the last section of singletrack. Then catching another girl right at the end. Unfortunately, I was not able to come around before the finish. I ended up placing in 5th, tired and ready to drive back to AR. Steve also finished in 5th. Next year, we'll keep the pre-ride to an hour.
Steve says the best part of the weekend was breakfast at Mike and Maaike's house the morning of the race. They have a very inviting home and it's nice to relax with old friends. It was fantastic, but looking back, I enjoyed the camaraderie I felt from the other racers, especially Loretta. I often ask myself why I spend money and time to suffer so. The answer is: to stay healthy and meet great folks.
Meanwhile, my BOT teammate, Cindy Reese, cleaned up at Tulsa Tough - two crits and two wins. She's a tough competitor.