Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Downieville Classic and Xterra Tahoe City

As we headed out to move here to California I got an email link from my old coach saying "This will be a great race for you next year!"  Downieville Classic had just taken place the week before we moved.  It looked like an awesome event and I was encouraged that there would be some great new events that I could do in CA while I missed out on the stuff I have always loved in CO.

In the back of my mind I have been planning on this race ever since.  However, as the year rolls on I was hesitating signing up with only my hard-tail.  From what everyone was saying I would really appreciate a full-suspension.  I knew I could do it but I also wanted to be competitive. 
Well, come to find out that the All-mountain competition fills up within minutes so I was to late to get in but I also talked to a friend, Clint Claassen, rider for Santa Cruz, and he offered to let me use the small full suspension that he recently built up for his wife if I wanted to race Downieville.  Yes, Please!  I was really excited and went and signed up for the XC.  Unfortunately I had to be waitlisted for the All mountain.

So, summer rolls on and then I felt like I fell apart at the end of June!  I had been training well and was getting ready for Xterra Tahoe City.  The week before the race my foot suddenly started to hurt like crazy whenever I ran and I didn't really know what was wrong.  I went out to race a MTB race at Skyline park the weekend before to get back in race mode since I had such a long time between races. Well, I started the race well took the lead but then slid out and bent my front wheel.  I continued to race on and caught a couple of the girls but took a bad line on lap 2 and endoed right over my bars and came down hard on my left hand! I still rode the next lap and held on for 2nd Pro women.  It was bad enough that I went to get X-rays the next day.  Not broken, but very sore and I couldn't put any pressure on it which made swimming a little hard and MTB...ouch.  Luckily the course was mostly smooth.  Well, I was able to still have fun in the race and hold on for a 5th overall and 2nd AG.  Not quite the race I had been planning for but when I wasn't sure how anything would work about 4 days out I was okay with it. 

After all that I decided the week after was OFF.  It was a reset week with no swim, bike, run.  I find it is really good to have one of these mid season to reset and break things up.  I was feeling a little better after the week off and started to get back into things but then we had company for a little over a week and we all traveled up north.  My foot was still bothering me some so I was trying to balance the run time on the trip since that was the only thing I could do while traveling.  Argh! 

Now it is nearing the end of July and Downieville has completely snuck up on me and I still have not made it up there to ride the course!  Thankfully TBF Racing put on a short series of Wednesday night MTB races that helped me get up to speed a little bit.  I got the bike from Clint and Jen and was trying to plan a time to get up and ride I had about 1 week to do it!  The weekend before I ended up getting a last minute entry to join a team for a Ragnar Relay at Sierra-at-Tahoe.  Couldn't pass that up so we had an hour from finding out to pack some stuff for Ashlyn and I and head up the mountain to go run instead of bike.  Had a lot of fun!  18 miles over the 27 hour time it took us. 

Anyway...back to Downieville! I was planning to go up early in the week with the Powless clan but our schedules didn't work with the day I had childcare and the days they had to go.  Then Ashlyn got sick so I couldn't go the day I had childcare! I needed to go see this course before racing.  Everyone is telling me it is "crazy" (I find Californians have tendancy to slightly exaggerate "crazy") and I was borrowing a bike I hadn't ridden before with different gearing.  It was set up 1x10 and I knew that the climb was a long 8 miles so I wanted to make sure I could handle. I was finally able to make it all come together on Thursday before the race.  I took Ashlyn to a friends and I headed up for a ride!
Long long climb but beautiful then long long and super fun descent! Despite a wrong turn and short back track, I had a great time! The bike felt great and I decided I could cowboy and climb the steep at the top! 

Friday I was little worried about being ready to race hard after riding for 3 hours the day before. I did some good recovery and got ready to go.  I originally wanted to do really well here but at this point I wasn't sure what to expect from my race I rode it once two days out and I felt like I had basically taken 3 weeks off at the beginning of July.  Hopefully that would just mean I was good and fresh. 
Race day came and the family loaded the car and headed up early.  Slightly later than planned with child in PJ and breakfast in the car we were on the way.  Then traffic! What construction on Saturday morning.  I had to be there in time to get my registration and warm up.  I made it but as we rolled into Sierra City the town was packed and Drew pulled over in a driveway and I jumped out and grabbed my stuff not knowing if I would see them again before start.  Not quite the relaxed start I expected.  I had time for only a short warm-up before I climbed and shoved my way through the people to the Expert wave. I found a girl with a Folsom Bike Womens team jersey and we chatted at the start. Before I knew it we were off on our way.  These start waves were huge and I was toward the back.  I knew it was a long climb and I would have some time.  I went for a conservative start.  I kept well within my limits till I was good and warm and then just tried to gradually push the pace the further I got up the mountain.  This seemed to work well for me.  I was passing a continuous stream of people all the way up. 
I pushed hard as I came to the flat part near the top and got in with a group of 5 guys on the road.  I had no idea where I was in the field. The pro wave started 5 minutes ahead and I was hoping I was catching some but didn't know where expert women ended and pro began.  I came through the cheering crowds at the top and was so excited to make it there in what I felt was pretty good time.  Right before I hit Sunrise someone called out that I was 14th female.  I knew some of those were pro so I had to be doing all right.  I dropped in and passed some guys on Sunrise and then on the way to the baby heads section on the road I caught 2 more girls.  I was picking my way up.  Got another one on Baby heads so I think I was about 11 and looking for more.  Then as we came through I heard a female call out behind me and pass me! Oh no! I got caught on downhill.  She was riding smooth and I kept her in sight most of the way. 
As I rode down the rocks and some tighter switchbacks toward the bottom of Pauley creek I had a scare.  I hit a rock wrong and heard/felt the small burp of my tire and saw some Stans shooting up.  "Oh Nooo!" I thought.  I slowed a little and rode for a minute a little more gingerly on that front to see what this Stans stuff was made of.  "What!!" a minute later still riding front tire fine!  Game still on!  First time that I have tested the Stans like that.  I don't flat often and I was really not wanting to happen here.  As I came out of Pauley Creek I found my girl again on the climb. I dropped into third divide and was trying to go hard but was starting to feel the fatigue.  I had a small mishap on a section and had to let someone by and I lost sight of the girl ahead.  I rode behind the one that passed a little and it was not the pace.  I got a little recovery and thought about it.  No way was I going to let this go that easy.  I told him I needed to go and make one last ditch effort to catch her!  I raced down the road onto first divide the last section of single track.  I came around the last big corner and at the bottom there is one last little climb out before you hit the pavement and there she was.  I climbed on her wheel and when we hit I gave it a good pushed and dropped her going to the finish.  My legs were done!  Then about 5 yards from the line all of a sudden I feel my bars nudge over! She pushed my bars out of the way and went into the finish shoot! Its alright...Nice race. Turns out she was Pro so I actually beat her by 5 min.
I went and found Drew and Ashlyn enjoying some ice cream.  Drew says, "Hey, how did it go?" At this point I still had no idea how I actually ended up so I said alright.  "Well, lets get the truck and go up, its my turn" (It was something to that effect :p)  I drove him back up to where the start was and he headed off to ride.  Ashlyn and headed back down and stopped at the river so I could have an icy dip. After that we headed back to the race festivities to get some food and hang out to watch the river jump.  I finally found the results posting and saw that I won! I took the expert field by more than 3 minutes and I would have placed 8th in a super stacked Pro womens field.  I was pretty happy with that.  Always room for improvement but it was a good day!  I was just wishing that I was racing the all mountain the next day.  Maybe next time.
I have to give a big shout and Thanks to Clint for letting me use the bike.  So much fun! I also made it in the little video recap (or should I say Ashlyn)!  Check this fun video of the race!


1 comment:

erica said...

Omgosh! Love this race report. You rock! What a great look at how a female who has a family, overcomes injury, moves from CO to CA, meets some cool people at TBF to borrow a MTB, & has the will to train & WIN!!! SO FREAKIN PROUD. Next year I wanna go watch. Thanks for inspiring.
Erica :)