Thursday, May 6, 2010

Season Opener

photo by Art White

I am excited to report that the rain curse on the Campmor H2H series has finally been broken. May 2, 2010 marks a day of beautiful sunshine and oppressive heat that beat down on happy racers at Wawayanda State Park for the first race of the series this year.

Going to the start line on the tail end of a cold, I did not have great expectations for my own race. I had spent the last three weeks riding only 5 to 6 hours a week trying to recover from an elbow strain and a cold that hit me harder than the average cold. As soon as the race was under way, I surprised myself by getting off to a very good start. I guess that says something about being well rested.

My bike handled perfectly and whatever obstacles and traffic was thrown at me, I seemed to stay focused and floated through without getting flustered. By the time I reached the end of Sitting Bear Trail, the two pros and Serruto were already out of sight, but I sat in the front of the next group of women, who were all strong racers. Things separated out over the next few miles, and by the pines I found my placement for the race. At one point I got excited when I easily reeled in a big bunch of racers, only to find out that I was lapping the back end of the Cat 2 race. I felt a little bad when I came flying by on my first lap knowing that these racers had been at it for a few hours and were struggling to finish. So, I tried to offer them a few words of encouragement, knowing very well that I would be feeling like them in two more laps.

Somewhere in lap 2, Darlene bridged up to me. We may have traded places a few times, but she seemed to want me to set the pace, so I did. Willy had an unfortunate DNF, but was thoughtful enough to handle the feed zone for the team. He saved my day with a cold bottle for lap 3, as I had miscalculated and was out of water. I think I drank half the bottle in the feed zone. Unfortunately it was too late and my feet and calves were already cramping in the technical sections. On top of that my toe was screaming and it felt like my arms were going to fall off. I guess it was hot, but there were so many things that hurt, that I really did not notice the heat.

At the end of lap 3, Dar and I had several men in tow. Dar was talking with them, and I was so tired that the words went right through my head and did not register anything. I had to dig deep, but both Dar and I rode up the little stinker hill at the end. I knew I was in the home stretch and it felt so good. I encouraged Dar to pass me, but she would not and I was too tired to argue. We rolled into the finish line for first and second place, one right after another at three hours and twenty minutes. It was a very long challenging race, and although my climbing had room for improvement, my descending and technical handling was more than I would have expected. It was a good day to ride a bike.

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