Seems like summer is truly coming to an end, especially with the finale of the Over the Hump Mountain Bike Race Series, which has comprised of most of my mountain bike racing season. The conditions were perfect for the series finale last night: perfect temperature (not too hot, not too cold), sunset scheduled for AFTER racers finished, water truck was out to relieve us of some of the dust on the course. Over 400 riders came out to participate in this last race of the season, which is the most of all 12 races. Lots of spectators out to watch their friends and family give it one last go for the series podium, and to watch the showdown between Sid Taberlay and Tinker Juarez. I came into the final race knowing that I had third place in the bag as long as I finished.
Race start was smooth enough. The girls started off with a pretty fast speed, and I got towards the front coming up the first climb. But, we ended up bottle-necking through the singletrack, which took my lead down to nothing. I also lost the girls coming out onto the flats (man.. they can fly!). This was the first race that they added back in a little drop onto the “beach” before going over the land bridge. I remember this drop being much scarier when Minh and I first started racing last summer. This year, I just rolled over it, making sure not to psych myself out. It seems much steeper during the race than it looks in the picture.
I ended up trying to play catch-up until the climb on the backside of the lake. I got pretty close to catching the lead 4 girls, but ended losing steam at the top of the climb. They were out of my sites for the rest of the race.. so I decided to just put my head down and do my best.
Coming around to the second loop, I ended up crashing pretty bad when I hit that single track again. I don’t know really what happened. Either I lost control or grabbed too much on my front brake. Whichever was the cause, I ended up going over my handlebars and crashing head first into the dirt on the first downhill into the singletrack. I also pulled my right calf muscle really bad on the fall. I couldn’t move because it hurt so much. Someone ended up helping me up and moving me out of the way. I limped around a bit trying to stretch out the muscle. In any other race, I would have called it quits, but I needed to finish this race to podium (I had already DNFd or missed 3 races). The course marshall helped straighten out my bike (the handlebars were twisted) and I stretch out enough to make the pain a little bearable. A lot of people passed me while I was trying to recover, but I slowly made my way back.
The rest of the race was just about trying to finish and remain pain free. I could feel my right calf tightening up more and more as I kept pedaling, and my left calf was on the verge of pulling. I alternated flexing and relaxing the muscles to prevent any spasms. My left toes were also starting to feel strained, so I had to wiggle them around in my shoes while pedaling to make sure I could keep the forward motion. I was limping by the end of the race, but I finished. My time wasn’t too bad either, considering I had to stop for a few minutes halfway through the race. I ended up in 8th with a time of 0:56:22.
I limped around a bit afterwards and tried to stretch out my calves and toes. I also stopped by the Dynamic Touch booth to get a much needed massage. Also, stuck around for the awards ceremony.
Final Women’s Beginner podium:
1st – Elise Wallace – 439 points
2nd – Deborah Ford – 434 points
3rd – Tran Nguyen – 428 points
We got some sweet awards and schwag for podium-ing in the series:
– 2 – $25 gift cards to Bike Religion
– 1 – $90 gift certificate to Dynamic Touch (good for 1 one-hour massage)
– SRAM socks by Sock Guy
– Specialized XC Grips
– Specialized Cascade Composite Cage
– 1 tube
– Livewire Energy Chews – Chocolate
– Crank Brothers M10 Multitool
Overall, this was a great series. Not sure if I’ll race the entire series next summer, but will definitely make it out for a few races.
Hey Tran, great series and congrats. Fun reading your blog posts on the race and rembering how much you’ve grown as a mtn bike rider/racer over the past year.
See you next season. -matt