Mind over Matter, or Mud
Well, it’s been 2 weeks since my first endurance race and I might as well write about it!
The Tuscarora Endurance Race, put on by Zachary Adams from Fast Forward Racing Productions, was the first and very memorable race of the 2012 season. It was a 4 hour long, figure 4 lap race which should have been about 35 miles, give or take. I rode down with a fellow racer and we saw the river was quite high from the rain the day before. This race was nestled in Blain, PA, never heard of it and had no idea there was a state forest there. Now I do. So, I thought, “okay, it’s going to be wet, no big deal.”
Endurance races are a bit tough to prep for since you will be on your bike for at least 4 hours. I was attempting to race without my camelbak and use only water bottles which is a big deal, especially since I have never done this before. I also changed my saddle about 15 minutes before the race, something you should never do, I did it, the saddle stayed on, btw no issues there, phew. I heard an announcement that laps were cut down to 6.6 miles each compared to the 9 it said on the website, which I was kind of disappointed about at first but quickly realized that disappointment would be total relief.
As I sat on the starting line, I knew my chances of placing were slim but heck, I’m going to try my hardest. Carolyn Popvic, amazingly strong racer, stood there, cool as a cucumber, as if she was just going out for a chill Sunday ride. The other girls looked tough and my confidence faded and I started to think that I should have just stayed home. Zach counted down and off we went.
It started with a steep climb that was slippery with mud. The rest of the course was completely mud filled and water logged for all 6.6 miles and the 994 feet of climbing. I figured in those terrible conditions, if I got 3 laps, I would be happy. This race wasn’t about physically being able to finish but mentally being able to pedal your bike through what seemed like watery cement with rocks hidden underneath to give some extra surprises. It was definitely a mind over matter kind of race.
Laps 1 and 2 were more of getting to know the course, getting comfortable, keeping a clear head and keep on pedaling in this absolute mess of what is supposedly a trail. The climbs were steep and I did not see anyone clear the 2nd largest incline on the course, it was a hike a bike for sure. My gloves were covered in mud, my hands were slipping off of the handlebars and I was just getting miserable. On lap 3, my mind cleared a bit and I felt better than I did on the 1st and 2nd and knew I could muster up the energy for a 4th lap. Why not? I’ve come this far and I’m disgustingly dirty, I ate enough, drank enough and no mechanical issues! Of course, on the last lap, I had a mechanical, chain between the cassette and spoke, broke the spoke, Stans just pouring out and a tube went in.
I finished the race feeling complete joy that there was no 5th lap for me. To my surprise, I finished 4th out of the women’s field which I was psyched about. No prize or money but I did have the pure satisfaction that I just rode 25 miles, climbed 4,000 feet and was on my bike for over 4 hours this early in the season. Kind of crazy to think it took 4 hours for 25 miles, ugh.
It really was a great race that mother nature sure had a hand in. She is not invited to the next one unless she wants to supply complete sunshine for the day!
The conversation on the drive home was how everyone’s bikes are mud filled and would have to be gone over with a fine toothed comb to make sure it can function for the next ride. Thank you to my husband for putting his complete effort into fixing my broken spoke, putting Stans back in and making it ride-able for Monday’s recovery ride.
The next race is April 15th at Michaux and this one is 50 miles. I am preparing with some good rides but again, lacking confidence in my ability to do 50 miles with some crazy climbing. I will go, do my best and hope that I will just keep getting stronger.