Sunday, February 14, 2010

Inspired by the Olympics, I pushed hard in my first mountain bike race of the season

To justify gobbling sweet treats on Valentine's Day, I jumped into my first mountain bike race of the year, competing in the women's sport (intermediate) class race today, Sunday, February 14 at Fort Ord in Monterey, California. It was the opening event of the seven-race CCCX series, nearly all of which will take place at Fort Ord, an hour's drive south from my Santa Cruz home.

Signing up for the race was a bold move, considering I can't even recall the last bike race I did. I haven't been on my mountain bike on weeks because it's been so rainy - the trails have been too wet to ride. But at Fort Ord, there's lots of sand, so no danger of destroying delicate trail eco-systems there.

My race consisted of 4 laps - beginners did 3 and pros did 5. Seemed like I could manage four. Little did I know how brutal those sandy laps would be! I estimate each loop was about 5 miles, but I swear as I huffed and puffed up the numerous climbs that they were 10 miles each.

I considered dropping out after the first lap, seriously thought about it again after the second lap, then decided to stick it out. I thought about the Olympic athletes, in particular the tragic death of the luger on Friday and felt the need to press on, despite my discomfort. My strategy was to make the third lap  a "rest" lap in order to banish lingering fantasies of bailing out. Then, for the 4th lap, I would go for it!

I did indeed ramp up the speed in a grand finale and dug deep to get there. I made it to the finish and got a second place medal in my age division! The medal was nice, but what really mattered was how hard I pushed myself and how I persevered despite wanting to quit more than once.

Race Highlights:

* Felt stronger than expected, given all the rainy weather time off the mt. bike.

* Enjoyed pushing the pace with my friend Henri Stern, of Pacific Grove. She inspires me!

* Teammate Andrew Murray's support - he cheered at every lap when I needed it most. And provided water, and later a bar, when I was near bonking.

* Loved racing my new Specialized full suspension bike for first time.

To sum it up, by the fourth lap, I was too tired to talk during the race - for those of you who know me and my laid-back racing style, that's saying a lot!

The results will be hosted on CCCX's new website:

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