The penultimate I.CUP race was at Solitude. This venue has a lot of memories for me. As I was doing my preride of the course, nostalgia kicked in. There was the place where the "meanest person in MTBing" took me out; the place where I hit a rock with my pedal and my foot popped out of my shoe which remained on the pedal, but it took me a while to figure that out; and the place where I endoed landing flat on the top of my noggin' cracking a helmet. Today went more like last year and was event free, which is good for a race.
The five of us lined up. When the gun went off I tried to hang with the lead group, but was off the back a bit. I was pretty sure we would regroup in just a bit. It was a gamble, but it paid off. By the time we hit the first long dirt road climb, I was back in it. My goal today was to push all that I had to stay in contact. There was some jostling for position before we got back into the single track and I was able to take the number 2 spot.
Stay close on the climb. Before we hit the first downhill section I asked if I could get by on the descent. She obliged sooner than I anticipated. She was carrying a great pace heading up and I was content to stay there until we started to point down. I continued to push until we hit the fast section and then I was able to get a gap.
I continuously looked over my shoulder. I would catch glimpses and focus on riding hard and steady. Was she getting closer? It was hard to tell as we weaved through the trees. The next open climb I tried to see where she was at. Was she catching me? Just push to the longer downhill. Push. Steady.
On the way down, I did not feel as if I had much flow. Ride smooth. Am I going fast enough? Am I going to get caught? Who is behind me? These were my continuous thoughts.
I would focus on what was ahead, but still look behind and down. Smooth. Push. Push. Ride. Smooth. Fast. By the time I hit the top on my third lap, I was pretty sure I had it. Just don't blow it on the downhill.
And I didn't.
Maybe having to do those 16! penalty laps during the Shoot Em Up Short Track on Wednesday paid off. It is understated to say, I did not shoot well.