I found out Saturday morning on the way to a local race that my biggest competition for the jersey points wasn't going to be there (and subsequently she is selling her near brand new XC bike), so I settled on racing Expert once and for all.
The promoters tried to say I'd lose *all* of my points if I moved up, but it didn't make sense to me. Eventually they said it'd either be fine for me to keep my points, or if no one else was signed up in Women's Expert for their membership dealio that my points could just transfer
Either way, I was able to sign up for 3 laps of racing and I should still be awarded a season ending jersey through them (which was one of my early season goals).
At any rate. We got to the venue a little before 8 am. It was a ghost town! I knew it would be slow for a few reasons: it was a DH race with XC, Super D, and 4X added on, and there was a bigger Cal State series race the following day.
No matter, I'd still be able to do 3 laps. I joked with a local pro that I'd get the hole shot from him, since I'd be starting up near the front and they were just going to do a mass start for all... 17 of us? Whopping XC field!
So, I had no competition. The biggest class was actually sport men (no surprise there). Local pro had no competition either. There was only one other female, who was signed up to race beginner/one lap.
Talking shop with the fast guys
There was a bit of a delay for a flat tire and a glove replacement, but we were off just a few minutes late.
I actually managed to maintain a top 4 position in the group until the first short little rise. Then most of the expert and sport men proceeded to pass me. It was okay. Those lowly sport riders only have to do TWO laps while I have to do 3.
Rounding the first corner
Early on lap 1
I settled in behind a few people and actually went at a slightly easier pace than I normally would. Lack of competition, incoming heat, and the knowledge that I'd need to suffer on a 3rd lap kept my motivation for a skyrocketing HR low. I still rode at a decent clip, mind you, but I wasn't going to kill myself on lap 1 to pull away from the non-existent competition.
I don't recall passing or being passed by anyone at all on lap 1. We all spread out nicely. The pro/experts single-filled up the first singletrack climb (short) and I started to lose ground there. No worries.
I kept my nutrition going at steady intervals, and actually I think wound up recovering slightly on some of the descents.
My front tire (currently a 29er Bonty Dry-X) nearly caused me to crash on the first singletrack descent on lap 1. It kept wanting to wash out in turns that had the littlest bit of sand built up. There were, unfortunately, a lot of these.
The bike has been feeling off lately. Headset is creeking, and the fork and front end just feel weird. Not necessarily bad, but something just feels "off". Hubby checked it out last week and said the bike is just it's normal flexy self and the headset was creeking. Okay!
Not much else to report for the remainder of lap 1. I haven't raced at this venue since the end of March. But, I felt *way* stronger on the hardest climb of the course for laps 1 and 2. Not that I was flying up it, but it definitely wasn't as long or as tortuous as I remembered it. Yay!
Got close to the end of lap 1; I didn't make a short steep climb, but I did make a steep rocky climb that in all my races there (3 last year, 6 this year) I've only ever cleaned once. Not too shabby.
Came back around to some cheers from friends at the 4x track as I went by.
Hubby was just a hill or two away ready to take more photos. Yay!
Up I started on the short pavement stretch with one guy just ahead of me. Unfortunately for him two different groups of DHers were heckling him. The first that I was making him look bad, and the second that he should at the very least slow down and ask for my number.
I wound up passing him near the top of the pavement climb. He hung on for awhile, but I pulled away from him a few descents/climbs later and didn't see him again. I think he was only doing 2 laps.
My legs were starting to feel it on lap 2. It was getting a little warmer. I made the short steep climb, and the steep rocky climb. Woohoo!
Unfortunately I went down in a rut on a loose turn a bit before the finish. Got really dirty, and wound up with a small cut/bruise. No biggie, but that would mean a lot more caution on lap 3.
A few turns later and hubby was cheering me on.
He then rode over to just after the first turn of the course to do a bottle hand off for me so I'd have a fresh bottle of water for lap 3.
Lap 3 was slower. I felt slower going up the pavement, and for the first time in awhile used granny (+1-2) to get up it. The race director was out on his moto and asked if I was on lap 3. I said I was. There was NO ONE out there. I actually passed the local pro finishing up his lap (I was maybe halfway through my last lap - but he had flatted at least once already), so I guess the other expert's were out there, but nearly finished.
I didn't see another person the rest of the lap. The course marshall's were all back at staging to help out with other events. I kept plugging along.
I knew I was slowing down, but my legs were feeling really sluggish, and it was pretty warm out.
I didn't make any of the short steep climbs.
My back was locking up walking up the hills. I came around and finally was at the finish line (that is probably what the finish line "judges" were thinking )!
I wound up with a time of 2:10:33. My laps were about 40:30, 43:30, and 45 respectively. Lap one is always a bit shorter since you start about 100 yards or so from where they actually put the finish line.
So, my sport time would've been around 1 hour and 24 minutes, which beats out my best time out there by 5 minutes and change! I didn't even feel like I was working that hard on laps 1-2. The crazy increase in volume/intensity I did in May was clearly paying off.
I was happy with my time, and feel that I have plenty to learn in expert (like how to get my lap times more consistent for one). Definitely need to keep up the training as well to ensure that I can do the longer distances!
Thanks all for the advice in my thread about Santa Ynez!
Oh yeah, obviously I won since I was the only one
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