The weekend following Rabbit Valley I made the long trip out west of Utah Lake to 5-Mile Pass. Out of the entire I-Cup race series this was the one that I had never raced. The last two years it rained the weekend of the 5-Mile so I had never made it out. Interestingly I had heard rumors that it was not the favorite course of most of my friends (due to it lack of singletrack, we are so jaded!). But never the less, I trekked out and saddled up! All of the fields were small for any number of reasons, but mostly because 12-hours of Mesa Verde had swallowed up a big portion of the local UT race community. The pro women group consisted of Sarah and me...no others, just us two! Well, ok then, we'll just have to make it a training ride and catch as many of the expert men as possible! The course was a fast 11-mile loop on double track used by ATVs. In the middle was a steep, loose, hike-a-bike section--baahhh! After the first lap I found myself in the middle of expert men racers and Sarah was no where in sight - very uncharacteristic of her. Usually when she is out of sight its because she is way ahead of me! So I continued to push on knowing she would be chasing hard and because I wanted to match last year's female winner who finished in 2.5 hours. That meant I needed to do 50 minute laps and I was a couple minutes ahead of schedule. The laps flew by and the temps near 80 degrees made it feel like race season! In the end I did finish under my goal time, I felt great about my effort, and my bike functioned perfectly. Unfortunately Sarah had to drop out of the race because of belly problems so I won by default! I was a bit disappointed that there was not a field of women to race against because I was not sure how I would have measured up against Sarah, KC, or Erica, the girls I'm usually battling with. I felt really silly standing atop the podium like a loner, but felt better after I reviewed the results and found that based on finishing times I would have been on the podium in all the expert men categories. I guess it just confirmed that I did earn it!
|Really...was it absolutely necessary to stand here like an idiot!!|
|4 of 5 bikes the two of us brought!|
I hadn't pre-ridden the course and wasn't sure what to expect so my plan was to try and stick on a good wheel for the first lap and see what it was all about. The pro women field was a little better than the 5-Mile Pass race so I had gotten what I asked for and now had the usual suspects to test my legs against. After the first climb I found myself out front...well so much for my plan to follow a good wheel! I had to change my mindset and figured I would just ride as smooth as I could and not make any stupid mistakes that would jeopardize my position. If someone wanted to pass, ok, just hold their wheel. About half way through the first lap my hardtail was climbing well and I was feeling pretty good. There was a short steep pitch ahead so I did what seemed like a good idea- shift my front derailleur to the small ring! Oh boy...chain suck! By this time Erica and I had a small lead and were doing our best to widen the gap. Well that's hard to do when you have to get off your bike, fix your chain, and push it up the steep pitch! I was forced to suffer up the main big climb in my big ring for fear of the dreaded chain suck if I shifted down. Near the end of the climb I needed the small ring and took the chance...yep, chain suck. Once again I forced Erica to break cadence and put a foot down, oops! While cussing my bike Erica and Sarah were calmly passing me and I turned to see KC not far behind. Trying to stay calm I fixed the problem and jumped back on in full chase mode. I made it to the feed/tech zone and Brandon was ready with my spare bike! What are the chances I bring two bikes to a race and actually need them both-Just FYI, its never happened before! We did a quick cyclocross style exchange and I was off to chase. It took the entire second lap and Erica crashing for me to move to second place. At the start of the third lap I finally caught up to Sarah! We decided to push the pace as much as possible up the big climb and before I knew it was in the lead at the top. I knew Sarah was capable of gaining a little time on the descent so I let 'er roll downhill knowing full well it was my race to lose so make NO mistakes! I could practically feel Sarah breathing down my neck and my legs were twitching and on the verge of cramping on every little thing that required a short bout of effort. Reminding myself to make no mistakes I pushed through the last few flat sections and was able to hold onto the lead for the win! Yeahhhh, my first real win of the year. Man did I need it too! I proved to myself I was capable of chasing back on and still having enough in the end to hold my pace. It was a huge moral booster!