Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cedar Hill MTB Race

The folks in Dallas put on a great MTB race this Saturday in the suburb of Cedar Hill. Tremendous downpours in Texas Wednesday and Thursday threatened the trails, but by Friday evening the parched Texas earth had soaked most of the rain up. Josh and I wanted to go preriding Friday, but with the rains we changed plans and would have to preride Saturday morning.Regarding my motivation for this race: I am trying to cat up to Women's As in collegiate for the fall so I can maybe go to nationals this semester. It's my 3rd year of vet school and the chances that I would have the time next year are slim, so I want to try to do it this year. To cat up in collegiate, basically I need to place 1st (because of the usually small field size) in two TMBRA races.

So, my brother and I wanted to hit the road Saturday morning at 6am to get there by 9 so we could pre-ride. Our perpetually late selves got in the car somehow by 6:10, but then I realized that 3 of my leaky car tires were almost flat. I got out the air compressor and put that on the worst tire, and Josh and I filled up the other two with bike pumps. By 6:30 we were actually on the road. With stops, we ended up in Cedar hill around 10 and were actually riding by 11. At that point I just realized it was me, not Josh starting at 2:30, so I didn't have as much of a break as I would have liked. Luckily it was still cool from all the rain. I had been doing a good job stocking up on carbohydrates and fluids in an effort to not bonk.

Pre-ride Overlook

The course was beautiful. There were tons of steep switchbacks, but they were pretty evenly spaced out, and fast downhills to compensate. There were technical sections but nothing too difficult. The trees were gorgeous and the recent rains had caused various blooms of wildflowers. I tried to take it easy on the preride but I was excited, and probably used a little too much energy than I should have. But it was nice to preride for the first time before a race. The 1 lap preride was 8 miles and I still had 2 laps to go for the race. I knew it would be a test of my energy. Luckily, I did gain a new skill during the preride. I had been reading about climbing skills and tried them out. It's all about getting out of the saddle on steep climbs to put your weight forward. This keeps your front wheel from popping up and gives you more power. Then to keep the back wheel from sliding out, you have to put more effort into your pedal upstroke, making sure to push down with your hand on the same side you're pulling up on with your feet. I was able to climb almost everything on the trail - a huge improvement from what I would have been able to do without learning this new skill.

I had about a 2 hour break between the preride and my race start. Then it was go time. I lined up early and started talking to a chick from team Bicycle Sport Shop that I had never met before. She informed me that the other woman from Cat 2 19-29 had catted up to 1s, and then I realized I was the only woman in Cat 2 19-29 for the race. Instant win! I was halfway to catting up to Collegiate As!

They started me with the two Cat 2 15-18s, and we were the first group in Cat 2 women. I could tell instantly that I was in the middle in terms of speed. After the first 5 minutes, I didn't saw the girl in front of or behind me for the rest of the race. They are incredibly strong for their age! It's heartwarming to see strong independent teenagers. There were 11 women that started after me in the other age categories. About 3 of them passed me on the first lap. I was going strong despite the instant win because I wanted to see how I fared against the other age categories.

I was feeling pretty good the first lap. Then the second lap started, and the Cat 3 men were right behind us. They only had 1 lap, and were sprinting it. I got passed by roughly 10 men in the first few miles of the 2nd lap. It was kind of annoying, especially since many of them were fast but not super experienced, so letting them pass wasn't as efficient, and I lost more time than I wanted to in the process. One guy did pass me efficiently - my brother of course. But then he asked me "Did you get a flat or something?" Be not afraid, honey badger paid him back later. ;)

On top of the Cat 3 men passing, halfway through the 2nd lap, my body was fading fast. The lumbar portion of my back was crying out in pain (I need to get fitted) and my muscles were starting to feel like jelly. I was losing my technical abilities. I had to walk up twice as many hills just because my legs were done. About 3 more Cat 2 women passed me, but this time not as quickly as on the first lap. After the enormous climb at the end, I was finally done!

It was definitely slower the second lap, but I ended up not bombing the second lap quite as badly as I did at Solavaca. I wasn't able to space out my effort as well as I wanted to at Cedar Hill because I forgot to put my HR monitor strap back on after the preride. But I think I did a much better job just based on effort. The first lap (8.5 mi) took 59 minutes and the second lap took 1:05. I'm sure I lost a few minutes on the second lap because I was stopping too much to let the Cat 3 men pass (I should have found a better place to let them pass so I could keep rolling). But I felt like it was an improvement from Solavaca, where I was bonked most of the second lap, and it took me 15 minutes longer than the first lap.

Out of all the Cat 2 women, I placed 8/14. Not bad for my 2nd Cat 2 race! (And I'm currently 4/13 for the season.)Photo courtesy of JWoo Photography

Out of my age division for Cedar Hill, I was 1st (and last) so I got an awesome piece of schwagg: a 900L trail light from trail LED! I have been wanting to do night rides recently so it was perfect timing. Now on to Rocky Hill Roundup next weekend in Smithville, TX!

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