Last Tuesday night was Race 6 of the Over the Hump Mountain Bike Race Series at Irvine Lake. I was so happy that it was Race 6. I’m in dire need of a break from “racing”. It’s definitely fun, don’t get me wrong, but it was wearing me out being so close to the top and having to push so hard every week just to be second place. I’m going to use the 3 week break to hone skills (being comfortable going downhill, braking, and cornering/turning.. oh.. and not falling)… and come back with a VENGEANCE!!! Leader Jersey in my sites! Anyway..
Race 5 was a good race. I went in strong with a new strategy – stay behind the leader and don’t pull the whole way. This worked, for the most part. I pulled out of the start and got a good gap on the climb.
I was ahead for most of the first lap until we headed into the gravelly downhill. I got passed by Debbie F. (who was 3rd in points) and decided to stick to her wheel through the flat and across the bridge.
I stuck pretty close up until the next climb, around the backside of the lake, then I passed her. I was ahead for the rest of the second half of the first lap, until we headed back on the flats. She turned to me and said “let’s put some distance on her” (referring to Elise W.. the leader).
Debbie pulled the rest of the flat (we were whizzing by at 18 mph – !!! – on our mountain bikes.. I would have never been able to do that without her). When we got back to the first climb, I went on ahead, thinking that she would stick closely behind me.
I must have gotten a little bit of distance between us, because I didn’t see her until after the dirt section on the second half of the second lap. I ended up falling into a bush (what with my lack of ability to turn well) on a sharp left, and she got ahead of me. I tried my hardest to close the gap between us, but had a bit of a set back on that steep “surprise” climb that EVERYONE has to walk. Hopped back on my bike to get through the singletrack, but she was already out of my sites. I thought I saw her as I was clearing out of the single track, so I started sprinting to try to catch up. I held that sprint till the end (probably the longest I’ve ever sprinted before), but she was also sprinting to get the win.
Was only behind by 7 seconds. Elise came in more than a minute later.. must have been an off day for her.
It was an awesome race. I was feeling good afterwards… and after Race 5, I was only 1 point behind the leader.
Race 6, on the other hand, is a completely different story. This was my first DNF.. EVER! And it’s not even a good long story. Actually.. Tuesday just wasn’t my day. I lost my race number (Goodbye #127, hello #954) sometime after the last race. We (Minh and I) suspect that it must have blown off because neither of us remember taking it off the bike after the race. And I forgot the camera at home (luckily, I had mom drop it off at work while she was running errands). Already not a good start to the day.
The warm-up was good, though. I took it easy and was feeling pretty strong. Should’ve been my race last night, especially since Elise wasn’t there to make me nervous. The race started smoothly enough.
I didn’t gun it off the bat, but trailed behind Debbie and Jennifer D. (another girl near the top) until we hit the first climb. I came around them on the first climb (with Debbie saying, “Oh.. there she is…”) and had some good speed up the climb. THEN, I was trying to pass this guy on his left. I must have passed too closely because he went off to the side a little bit and clipped me. I lost my balance and crashed into gravelly ground (on a CLIMB!!!) and then he fell on top of me (not hard, but still uncomfortable). It took him a while to get up, just because it was an awkward position.
I got up and collected myself, made sure the guy was ok, and mounted my bike (didn’t get too far since the handlebars were all turned around). I was a little frazzled, so it was difficult to get started on the uphill. Instead I ran for a little while until the climb mellowed out a little. Then I hopped on and started the chase. I could feel my leg and my elbow stinging from the fall, but decided not to think about it too much. A lot of time (and distance) had passed between me and the two other girls, so I wanted to make up the distance as quickly as possible. I was trying to push, but I could tell my head wasn’t in it.
I was chasing the whole first lap, sprinting when I could to catch up, but I was all over the place. I would downshift when I wanted to shift up, swerving all over the place, couldn’t keep my head up, almost ran into a bush of cactus (and I wasn’t even going fast that time). Also, my seat was slightly off from the fall, which was bothersome, and it must’ve jammed into my leg/groin-area when the guy fell on top of me, because it felt like I had strained a muscle or something. I was close behind Debbie up the climb on the backside of the lake, but just couldn’t close the gap when it flattened out. After getting through the cottonwood single track, I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I leg was throbbing and I had a bad headache.. also was afraid that my lack of focus would just lead to something worse on the second lap, so I called it in.
I was disappointed in myself for not keepin’ on, but I got over it. The series winner is picked based on best 9 out of 12 races, so this would be one of my freebies.
Checked the results, and Elise and I moved down to 3rd and 4th, respectively, in leader points, since we didn’t get any points for Race 6 (what with Elise not even being there and my DNF). Debbie in #1 and Jennifer in #2. They’ll keep this for atleast the next 4 races, since that’s what it’ll take for all of us to even out the points (9 races total). Which means we’ll all be pushing hard the next four races (starting July 27).. and the points are close, so the winner of the series will probably be decided by the winner of the last race (on August 31).
Afterwards, Minh and I headed to Chronic Taco for dinner, then headed home to get cleaned up. Finished off the night watching the history and development of tea as the world’s #2 most popular drink on Modern Marvels on Hulu. Was a nice relaxing way to end the evening, but I still went to bed a little disappointed of my first DNF.