Sunday, May 24, 2009

Angel Fire

After being on my calendar all winter as my first big mountain bike race of the year, I was looking forward to the Mountain States Cup race in Angel Fire, NM. And it really delivered. I made every amateur mistake possible, had all sorts of bad luck (or, could one say, poor preparation), and generally had an all around learning experience / crap-fest of a weekend.

First up was on-line registration. I went to the race website on Wednesday and found that registration closed Tuesday. Ah well, I'd have to make it to Angel Fire by 1 pm Saturday to register for the Short Track. And pay an extra $20. The schedule on the race website pinned the Short Track time down to "All Short Track races: May 23 from 3 to 9 pm."

So on Saturday, in spite of getting stuck behind approximately 10,000 motorcycles in Red River, we made it from HMES to AF just in time. For $120 I was granted entry to the Pro Short Track and Cross Country races, AND given a beautiful hand-caligraphed number plate to grace the front of my handlebars. Smelled like permanent marker, as a bonus.

Found out that my start time that day would be 5:55 pm. So with about 4 hours to kill we stopped in for some delicious sandwiches at the Pizza stop and then wandered around Angel Fire in the rain for a while.

Pastrami envy. I am definitely going to ride at Angel Fire a lot this summer,
if only to get one of those sandwiches. My turkey sandwich
was awesome too, but J liked the pastrami so much
he went back for another one for breakfast the next day.
He's not often one to get so excited for sandwiches.

First photo of the red-red-red hair.

J naps in the car with the dogs while waiting for the 3-9 pm short track to begin.

The dogs are good at sharing.

I checked out the course, which contained a nice steep hill followed by a very quick downhill. 80% of the time racing would be spent climbing that leg-burner of a hill. Great thing to do the night before an important cross country race: climb a hill at 8,600' multiple times with the heart rate pegged. Just a few consequences in the recovery department.

Warming up. It's ALL hill up there.

The race started and I went ahead and led out the opening lap. I wanted to choose the pace around the switchback on the downhill and not get stuck behind anyone, since I didn't know most of the women racing. I did know Katie Compton (silver medalist at Worlds in Cyclocross) and Kelli Emmit (super fast pro on the Giant team), and figured they'd have no trouble getting around me.

There goes Katie C. in front of me. Is she the national Short Track champ too?

It was a fun course that I normally would have thoroughly enjoyed, but I was worried about the cost for the next day. Heather Holmes (Kenda-Tomac-Hayes) passed me for third at some point and I didn't fight her very hard for it. I grannied up the hill after the first lap to save my legs a bit. At the end of the last lap I realized I was closer to Heather than I'd thought, and was coming up on 4 riders I was about to lap, but was pleased to have nailed 4th place and to feel like I'd left something in the tank for the XC. Unfortunately the officials had me down as 9th, and in my haste to get home, eat, get the bike ready, and get some rest I left before results were posted and missed the protest period. Darn.

It was great to have Mom (and Dad and Mor-Mor) there cheering me on.
It helped that Scott, Tony, Ian, Cubby, Lynn, and a few others were
screaming at me around the course.
I should have listened and rode faster!!
Wish we could have a re-do.

Packing up the car. Yes, it is awfully late to be finishing a race.

It rained at home all night and I had trouble choking down my breakfast the next morning.

On Sunday we arrived at the venue in the pouring rain. I was dreading the course conditions and was really nervous about the race since I hadn't had a good test on the mountain bike yet this year. I had a very short warm-up and lined up, opting to leave my armwarmers and kneewarmers on. The race started and the sun came out, leaving me way overdressed.

Qimmiq sometimes takes his sister Mogli for walks.

Waiting for these girls to rip my legs off.

Qimmiq likes races.

Dad and Sherlock looking for a good spectating spot.

I felt nauseated up the first part of the climb. I wasn't sure how hard to go since the climb is ridiculously long and my legs didn't feel great.

Start of a long day.

I bungled around on the slippery rocks in the woods and was wondering why my bike was bouncing all over the place... forgot to re-adjust after adding a bunch of air to my suspension for the short track. D'oh. Passed by two.

On the downhill I felt like I was going excruciatingly slowly. Indeed I was. Just not enough practice on the new bike yet. D'oh. 2 more.

I started to feel a bit better going up the hill for the second lap, maybe since now I was warmed up. Unfortunately I had lost a bunch of gears hitting a rock on the downhill, but I tried to use them anyway. Off the bike, passed again. I was glad to see it was Becca-- she wasn't feeling great but was riding strong anyway. We cheered for each other off and on as we went.

Find a happy place... find a happy place...

Not my best race. To add insult to injury my shoddy performance was in front of my parents, my grandmother, my husband, my dogs, and a lot of local racers who were up for the race. I regretted not just going for it in the ST, when I felt good and held back. That regret was made more intense when I learned of the mis-scoring. Darn.

Sorry, Mom.

I went to see the boys at the Shimano tent after the race, since they'd made my bike work like butter for the ST. Turns out my cassette was mangled and my derailleur was a little bent. They fixed everything, which made the whole weekend worthwhile. Well, of course a weekend on the bike is always a good weekend and I probably got a pretty good workout to get stronger for next time too.

1 comment:

  1. Nice job at Angel Fire. Raced it once when the World Cup was there. Hard course for sure. You race it too that year as I remember. And yes, your hair is RED!!! Nice.