Monday, July 1, 2013

Ripping it Rip Van Winkle Style

After the two Enduros that were on my race calendar for this year, got cancelled, I decided last minute to sign up for Super-D at Windham. .... and after a mechanical DNF at Lewis Morris the week before, I decided another XC race before Nationals might do me some good. So I signed up for XC as well. Why not?

Art and I headed up Friday to preview both courses, riding a lap on the XC first. Heavy rains had left the course pretty wet in spots, and although much of the trail building at Windham is sustainable and built with draining rocks and bridges, there were a few dirt fall line sections left in for thrills. It had been quite some time since I had raced or even ridden fall line trails, and I felt a bit out of practice on skid controlling down the slippy-slide fall line sections. I did not let it get me bent out of shape, as my main goal for the weekend was to practice my skills for Super-D/Enduro stuff. There would be plenty of opportunities to practice fall line stuff on the Super-D course.

The top of the Super-D course was a total quagmire: puddles, soup and peanut butter mud. My hopes of really riding this stuff became a bit dismal, and my first run was not so good with Art advising me to walk the long off camber peanut butter slide. Art bailed after one lap, which I totally understood. The course was a mess, but I had made it to this point and I needed more practice, so I took another run solo. This time I plowed through the mud on top and made it without getting off. Then I tried riding the peanut butter slide. I got a little unglued on a water bar, but rode it out like a cowboy and made it down in one piece with some nervous laughs. Not so bad, I thought. There was one drop that I could not face up to, and I accepted that fact, reminding myself that I already made gains in one day and tomorrow was another day.

I had little expectations of finishing high in the cross country, but I was still going out there to shred the down hills and drag my butt up the mountain best I could for training. The climb was tough. My legs were not feeling great, and while I was climbing, I remembered that at one time I actually liked to climb. I am so not there now. I suppose after racing for 18 years, one’s priorities can change. I am more interested in having fun these days. As for the race, I soldiered through the climbing, and felt fairly consistent and rode the technical part well finishing better than I expected with a 5th place in the 35+.

By 6:00, the courses were beginning to dry out some. However, I knew there was no hope for the Super-D quagmire to dry out. I chose to skip a pre-ride in fear that it would mess up my drive train too much. I also opted for a down tube mud flap which was a big help containing the splatters towards my face and glasses so that I could see.

Art headed up to “Kabush Falls” to watch the end of my run, and had some extra time alone in the quiet woods, so he took a nap on a log. He was woken up by local spectators who quickly named him Rip Van Winkle. They asked him if he was waiting to watch his son race, and he had to explain that he was waiting to watch his wife…. Mrs Rip Van Winkle, I suppose.

We had a lemans start, and like usual, I was last into my pedals. It did not help that I lined up between 2 downhillers that towered over me in height. Elbow to elbow running, I may have been a little size intimidated. Once on my pedals, I started passing. There was a 2 girl tangle up, with words flying, as one woman got flipped into the woods and the other tumbled and slammed down across the road. I had to swerve not to run her over. She eventually came by me down the peanut butter slide and disappeared like a bullet. The slide had actually dried out some and I was able to hold the preferred line all the way down. I had one miscue in the first single-track, but from that point on, I had a great run, nailing the drop that I did not get the day before. It is amazing what you can do when you are focused! I heard a lot of cheering when I came through Kabush Falls. I did not know that it was the Mrs. Rip Van Winkle fan club, lol!

Still waiting for official results to be posted, but according to my calculations, I finished 4th just out of the money in the Pro/Cat 1. There is no doubt, that this course was downhill heavy, not really suited for my strengths, so this was a very good result. But in reality, I do not care much about winning. The feeling of ripping down the mountain at the edge of your control, is soooo much fun! I do not understand why there are so few girls doing this. It is a blast!

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