'35th elite women'. It doesn't quite have the ring to it that I was after. Did my aspirations outweigh my capabilities at this point in time? Maybe. I had a good race, and put together the best I could on the day, so I am happy enough. I shouldn't get too hung up about the end result if the process was as good as I could deliver, so I won't. End of story. Ok I will tell you about my race though...
The course was a tonne of fun. A few of you might be aware of the rock infested 'cardiac climb' for which I had made the specific 'big ring off and bash guard on' modification to my bike. It worked a treat and I was stepping up, around and over the 1-2 foot high rocks neatly in practice. Oh for practice... b/c come first lap along with O2 debt, deprived legs and fluster fest I suddenly lost my finesse!
The second half of the course had a beauty bermed descent, several table tops, short dual slalom sections and heaps of flow - wicked! But fast and therefore gaining a decent speed differential to pass was tricky.
During the week I had constructed a start plan, as you must. I was called up in 42nd - i.e. back of the grid. There was a bit of a chicane before we swung right onto a fire road that was a gradual incline of about 1km before we hit the narrowed singletrack of 'cardiac climb'. Your position here would be crucial, and sure enough everyone had figured this too.
My master plan was based off a similar one I used at Mt St Anne that worked a treat. In this case I would line up in the left, stay out of trouble through the first bend then slingshot around the outside on the right hander into the fire road. Unfortunately as the big space opened in front of me to gap it up the side I got cut off and ended up braking hard to avoid a prang. I recovered ok, and pinned it to get across to the bunch that had formed up the fire road.
Note to self, female MTB bunch = absolute shocker. We surged, braked and sprinted for the next 500m and even managed a crash! No shit, a pile up on a 6m wide uphill fire road. Craziness. So my start was not brilliant and I was not where I needed to be as we hit cardiac climb. Hat off to Katie Compton (USA) though, she was on the same row as me and was apparently 6th going into cardiac. It can be done....
Out back there was a second section of fire road of maybe 500m, a great opportunity to pass. But again it was a gradual incline (not a strength of mine)... and the Euro/road girls just hauled up this section. I tried to hang tough, but I was eating dust. I need some road quads and a butt to boot. I'll be working on it!
I definitely took a bit to settle, but by mid-race (lap 3 of 5) I felt I was riding better. I was enjoying the technical sections, taking the 'hot lines' and made a few passes. It feels so good when you romp a section, make a pass and the crowd goes wild. I had heaps of support out there, it was fantastic.
Another positive from my race was that in the 5-lap race my individual lap times differed only by 6-seconds! Yay for Miss Consistent, just need to get consistently faster now. I am excited, I feel I have a whole lot to look forward to in the next chapter, I have weaknesses to work on and strengths to build upon. Bring it!
Right now though, I have a short break from biking practice. In this time Cabin and I will get ourselves established in Rotorua, I will go hunting and spend some quality time at home on the ranch before settling into a new physio position in the big stink of Roto... yayaa!
Thank you everyone for your continued interest and support, it is hugely appreciated. Also to my sponsors... Avanti Bikes (DT Swiss & Kenda tyres) and Avanti Mt Maunganui, n-Duro events Rotorua, Balance Nutrition, New Balance, 2XU & Ridestrong... these people literally spin my wheels. Thank you all!