Although normally this weekend would be the first big cyclocross race of the year in Seattle—Starcrossed—I decided to take the endurance fitness I had been building all summer and race Mountain Bike Marathon Nats in Bend, OR. I’ve heard that the trails in Bend are some of the best around, but I’ve never had the chance to ride them. On Friday, my husband and I were able to ride about 10 of the 52 miles of trails. They were dry, sandy, dusty, and fast with a few technical rocky sections that I predicted would require a quick dismount and run up.
On race morning, nerves were going strong. I had already worn a path to the bathroom and the hotel housekeepers were probably beginning to wonder if we were stealing the toilet paper. Fortunately, while I was waiting for staging, I got to meet a few of the other 40-49 year old women from around the country. A little visiting and laughing eased the nerves and I was able to get focused and ready to race when we lined up. Before hitting the dirt, we had 7 miles of gradually climbing pavement with a slight headwind. I decided to ride at a pace I knew I could maintain and see what happened. After a short time at the front, I looked back and had two ladies with me. When I pulled over the let one of them take a turn at the front, neither pulled through, so I decided to push a little harder to see if they followed. They didn’t, so I continued climbing the pavement alone out front wondering if I was being incredibly stupid. Once I turned off onto the dirt, I looked back and could no longer see the rest of the field. I started working my way through the 30-39 women’s field who started 5 minutes before my field. I was also catching some of the older men. Again, I was wondering if I was being incredibly stupid, but I was monitoring my heartrate and knew that I could maintain that effort for several hours. Eventually I was racing with the 2nd place 30-39 year old lady and it was nice to have company! For the last hour or so I became paranoid that something was going to go wrong— a crash, cramp, flat, chain break—anything that would bring my race to a screeching halt. When I hit the last short section of singletrack before the finish, I was able to breathe a HUGE sigh of relief. My beautiful pink Ellsworth Truth had brought me swiftly and safely to the finish line! I had won! I had actually won! After daydreaming about the possibility through endless solo training rides, it was wonderful to pull on the stars and stripes jersey and have my dream come true!
I've attached a podium picture. Thanks for reading!