I pretty much decided to do this race at the proverbial last minute...I think I registered on Wednesday! I hadn't done an XC race in 5 weeks so was feeling pretty nervous about it. Overall, I hung in there and finished the best I could. Here is my race report:
Dan, Allison, Justin, and I all made it up to the Idyllwild Spring Challenge Race this weekend .
Sure is pretty
The Manns, Dan, and I all arrived Saturday morning for the XC races (Dan would be the only one not racing Saturday...he was our designated camera-man and all around helper as he would be racing Super D on Sunday).
The crowd was pretty big and there were lots of racers who came out. Allison & I wondered if we would still be the only ones in our class (sport 19-29) given the number of riders choosing the same day registration option, but in the end, we were left to duke it out with each other (I'll give away the ending now...Allison had a great day and beat me handily by over 8 minutes).
The gals in argyle
We got ready and warmed up...but the race got delayed by about 15 minutes and the air really started to warm up too! I'd guess it was at least 75, and the sun was very bright. I opted for the CamelBak...dorky, I know but I didn't want to fight with the bottle and the Niner only has one cage on it.
We watched Justin and Singleminded Eric go off and then lined up for our race.
Justin looking ready to rumble
I put it down hard off the line and got the hole shot but I knew that Allison was right behind me. Almost immediately, my heart rate was through the roof and my lungs were on fire. I could taste blood, which often happens when I ride really hard at any elevation above about 4000'. I knew that I was in for a rough ride.
Allison passed me easily once we turned left to start the Keen Camp climb. I watched her stand up and accelerate away from me. Damn! I knew it would be her day today, but I still pushed myself hard.
When you have a teammate and close friend like Allison, and when you train together like we do, you get to know the other person's strengths & weaknesses. This can play out for the better or for the worse, depending on the perspective. She knows that I warm up slowly and don't hit my rhythm until ~30 minutes into a ride. She is able to go out really hard. Me? Not so much
In any case, I made it to the top of Keen Camp and then made it out to the meadow when I started to pick off some of the other riders (mostly sport guys). A couple of the sport women 30+ pulled away from me on Keen Camp but I caught and passed them once on the singletrack.
Justin on the course
I was sweating pretty badly and couldn't regulate my breathing for most of the way up May Valley Road. I could still taste blood. I felt like throwing up. Still, I tried to push hard up May Valley Road...I knew the singletrack was awaiting and would be a welcomed relief.
Before I knew it, I got to Buena Vista and took off down the trail. I seriously felt like I was hallucinating and was totally wobbly on the bike. Pretty soon, my breathing slowed and I was able to steady out. I actually did really well on the singletrack (my strength) and caught the other ladies. I made it over the Roman wall section and turned right onto Mirkwood. To my surprise and delight, I saw the welcoming, gleaming smiles of Donna and Steve! Thanks guys!
Down Mirkwood it was...I was flying!! Soooo much fun...and then I got stuck behind a couple other riders.
We turned right to bypass all the HAB and a quick climb brought us to Lower Southridge. On our ride here for the STR campout, I struggled so badly. I knew that I needed to stay on my bike as much as possible if I had any hopes of salvaging my time. I passed a lot of people walking and cleared a couple steep, long sections. I was really proud of my technical riding skills!
Lower Southridge was still a grind, but once I made it back out to May Valley Road, I knew the hardest parts were over!
Allison on Exfoliator
Me climbing up Exfoliator
Next it was Snakeskin to Cahuilla Cutoff to Tres Hombres Uno. These sections were fast and flowy with a lot of turns. Overall, lots of fun. Things started to get crowded, though, as the expert riders had merged back with the sports. It was tough to have some guys assume I was going to get off and walk, telling me "rider up" but then I beat them up the climb.
Anyhow, I knew by this point that catching Allison wasn't going to happen despite my best efforts. Nevertheless, I had a blast bombing down Exfoliator and then Rage through the Sage (despite the climb between them).
At one point, some guy who I'll call "The Hare" decides that he MUST pass me and blows by me on RTTS...then, I cleaned the rock climb--the techy one--and there he is, resting off the side of the trail!? Score one for me, "The Tortoise". Then I put the hammer down and big ringed it out to the pavement. Who comes flying up along side and then past me? You guessed it! We took the right turn back to the dirt again and I passed him back. Then, at the turn before The Demoralizer, he nearly pushes me out of the corner. Anyway...
Allison approaching The Demoralizer
Ditto for me
I made my best efforts at The Demoralizer, but it lived up to its name. I walked up the last 1/3 then finished up to see Allison, Dan & Justin waiting for me. I finished about 8:41 after her. I did warm up after all, it just took me too long.
Soooo happy to be done
We ended up hanging around, munching on food and hoping we'd win something in the raffle (Justin did win). The vibe was awesome and relaxed but I felt really sick...lightheaded, headache, etc. Too much heat and not enough electrolytes. Got to meet Zippy (Eric) and hang out with the others friends we've made so far this year.
My time was about 2:15 for a 19 miles course. Justin came in 5th and Eric came in 5th for the 30 mile open course (on his SS, no less!)
Us chicas on the podium
All in all, I would definitely recommend this race...awesome trails, great race support (sweepers, medical, aid stations, volunteers), and a great local vibe. The only bummer was that Super D got cancelled though we still rode (but that's another RR)!