The last few weeks of life have had me mostly living at work, sleeping very little and eating like total shit or not eating at all. With motivation and expectations at an all time low and back pain at an all time high, I really wasn't that excited to head to Lake Geneva, one of the more technical races in the WORS series.
There were about 20 women at the start line which is a hearty number for the 1:30 race. Don said GOOOOOOOOO and we were off. I climbed up the hot, exposed ski hill, made my way through the dusty, sandy singletrack and found myself thinking about the rock garden that was to come.
The legendary rock garden is Lake Geneva's spectator centerpiece. It is lined with people yelling, screaming and taking photos....all waiting for the inevitable carnage to ensue. Now, the rock garden is really not that difficult of a piece to ride. You need to set your nerves aside, take some momentum into it and roll right down the middle, then try not to break your neck on the descent. Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Unfortunately the consequences for not riding it perfectly are substantial - falling in the rock garden could mean serious damage to your bike and body, everyone you know will have witnessed your crash and will have posted the photos come Monday morning and you will most likely be run over by others behind you, trying to ride the rock garden.
With all these thoughts dancing around my head, I sat on the wheel of Brenda ZT as we made our way on Lap 1 up to the rock garden. About this time the Comp men started to catch us. As we passed the "CAUTION" sign, there was dude who wanted to pass us on the drop. I told him to wait. These are not words you will usually hear out of my mouth (those that know me, know I'm super easy to pass - just let me know you're there, don't cut me off, or crash me and we're all good....call me crazy but it is generally not good idea to ask for a pass in a section that requires a CAUTION sign). Brenda ZT hit the rock garden and slowed, which cause me to slow a little and sure enough, the dude made a super sketchy pass as I entered the the garden of many large, bruise worthy rocks. I was off the bike, pissed as hell and maybe even uttering a few unkind words (sorry spectators). Making your way down that hill on foot is awful and dangerous with non stop traffic barreling down a "room for one only" descent.
During that episode a few elite women had passed me, so I spent the rest of Lap 1 expending all my energy trying to regain my position and trying to let go of my anger. I am very happy to report that on Laps 2, 3 and 4 I rode the rock garden cleanly and managed to avoid any permanent physical, emotional or psychological damage that one receives from having a mishap there.
Photo by Velogrrl
I have a history with heat exhaustion - one episode at Alterra last year and one at Subaru Cup this year. It happens on exposed ski hill climbs on super hot days. I know this about myself. Knowledge is power. So when I started climbing the exposed ski hill on Lap 2, I could feel it coming on. It was just a stones throw away - the chills, the intestinal upset and yucky feelings. The result? I slowed way down, dropped it into the granny gear, started drinking more and hung on as best as I could. I did this for Laps 2, 3 and 4 and finished the race in 2 hours and 36 minutes for 11th on the day. I'll take it.
Photo by Velogrrl
Thanks to everyone for all the cheers and encouragement. I had a great time at the race and was super excited just to cross the finish line.
Photo by Gary
Well, I'm off to the Chequamagon 40 today. A top 25 finish is the goal but perhaps it's too lofty or assuming. There are many unknowns and things that will be out of my control. For instance, am I going to get run over by 1700 people because I have preferred start and got tangled up one of the many crashes that traditionally happen? And will I have the mental patience to avoid crashes for the first 25-30 miles. If my memory serves me right, it's mass chaos for the majority of that race.
For those of you going, I'll see you at the finish line at the Telemark Resort. We'll be dusty, sweaty, sore, happy and hopefully in one piece. Come have a beer with me.