Monday, May 23, 2011

Rocky Hill Roundup

I have been trying to garner the points necessary to cat up in collegiate, and Rocky Hill was the chance to complete my mission. This was the last TMBRA race of the season, and I wanted to do everything right, but...

We moved into Austin on Thursday. My plan had been to do the crit Thursday, rest Friday, pre-ride Saturday, race Sunday. Thursday I was too exhausted
from moving to do the crit. My brother Josh really wanted to experience the hill known as Ladera Norte so I figured I could go, and just do recovery pace except that hill. I accomplished that mission. And remembered why I love Austin. Next, we planned to pre-ride the race course at Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville. I assumed, wrongly, that my Cat 2 course would be two laps of the Cat 3 course. By the time I realized it was one 17 mile lap, we were already at the back of the ranch and there was no turning back. Additionally, it was wet from recent rains, and the last half of the course was new, with clay exposed, and slippery. By the end of the ride I was exhausted. And I had lost my sunglasses the first 2 miles so I had to repeat those... We ended up doing about 20 miles, almost a half marathon.

I needed to get first in my age category to win, or rank in the top 3-5 of the category. I had scoped out the competition that pre-registered in my age group. One of the girls appeared, through previous races, to be on par with a racer who had to cat up to 1s. This latter racer had beat me by a long shot in my first Cat 2 race, by 15 minutes. I knew that I had no chance beating this new chick racing me. She was one race away from being forced to cat up to 1s. Let's call her TSA.

That, combined with my utter exhaustion, made me less than excited about my prospects for doing well. Luckily Josh was in good spirits, and Henri was going to be my soigneur, so I went despite my gloomy forecast.

The rains had stopped, and the course was the perfect amount of dry on Sunday - not too loose, but not muddy. I was stocked full of glycogen and well hydrated (I weighed myself the night before and I weighed SEVEN pounds more than usual... crazy). There were four women in my age group, and we started with the one Cat 2 age 15-18 (who had beaten me by a few minutes at Cedar Hill two weeks prior). Let's call her BSS. We were off, and the BSS and TSA sprinted ahead. My heart rate was near max after only 2 minutes. I passed the first hilly section and realized I had totally dropped the other two women in my age category. That didn't really matter; I still couldn't get upgrade points in 2nd place. But halfway through, I realized that still only 1 woman in the other age groups had passed me. By this point at the other races, there had been numerous. I thought to myself, maybe I can make top three overall for Cat 2? It was the perfect focus I needed for the last half.

At mile 10, there was the water feed. I threw my bottle and grabbed a new one. I tried to drink from it a few seconds later, and dropped it. The lid hadn't been screwed on tightly and ALL the water came out. I was a very sad, sad panda. I got desperately dehydrated about a mile later and just... picked up another rider's half empty bottle and rinsed off the tip. Gross! But I was soooo thirsty. And it was totally worth it. I haven't gotten any strange diseases yet, so hopefully I'm ok.

I had caught up to BSS which gave me more confidence in myself. She was keeping just ahead of me for a long time. I passed her once but then she passed me up a hill. I decided that I would just stay on her tail for a few miles so she had to go fast. Once I thought she was worn out, I sprinted past and went at max effort (ok, more than max effort because during a race I only have an "on" switch) until I was out of her sight.

Then I only had a few miles left. Coming up was "The Wall," and I hadn't ever made it up that hill, even on my pre-ride. There was an announcer at this point, and people had gathered to watch the carnage. Well, I just love a crowd, and I was excited/nervous. I hit the downhill as hard as possible, and had enough momentum to make it up The Wall with some hard cranking. The announcer said "Gig'em Ags!" and "That was smooth!" which was pretty much the best moment of my MTB racing life.
The downhill before the wall

Almost there!

Got it!

I had about 2 miles left to the finish. I felt good. I wanted as many seconds possible on the other Cat 2 riders. I gunned it and "chicked" a few more men (I'm still not sure if they were Cat 2 or Cat 3). It's always fun to see boys who really, really don't want to get passed by a girl. I stay behind them maybe a few seconds longer than I should before I pass them at full speed. ;)

I clocked in at 1 hour 49 minutes. I waited for the results, but I knew I had been beaten in my age group. I only got passed by one other Cat 2 woman though, and I had beat BSS, so I was hoping for the best. I waited by drinking my free cold tasty beverage... I love TMBRA.

I ended up in 3rd place! Which means I can cat up in collegiate, and maybe go to nationals this year. Happiness...


Smiling for the camera man

1 comment:

silva4124 said...

I too was surprised by the random loud music and crowd that appeared near the end of the course. It was definitely nice to hear people cheering on us Aggies, especially as I almost ran into a tree after making it up The Wall.