Posted by: Miriam | 26/05/2009

Spring Thaw 2009

Yea yea, slightly out of logical order, since the was was on the 16th. Only 10 days late.

The weather persons called for a high near 90 in Ashland. When my start time came around it was sunny and warm. Two of my favorite weather terms, ever. So Spring Thaw is a true climber’s course. About 10 miles up gravel roads, 8 miles across a rolling with a slight descent gravel/fire roads, and then the rest of the 24 mile course down hill on single track and downhillers course.

Everybody lined up super early when I was warming up. All the category 2 fields and single speeders were started in a mass start, and I got stuck at the way back. Whoops. I think to myself, great, now I have to try to pass all these ya-hoos. Surprisingly enough, it was easier than expected. I just kept the pace high and rode what was comfortable for me. I pass Michelle (Team Dirt) and Jenny ( who was glued to the back of Michelle’s wheel. Michelle hops on my wheel and we off we go. I look back occasionally and see Jenny still there, so I turn up the pace just a tad. Soon we drop her. Soon we drop everybody, all the masters men battling it out for their world championship title every week, all the single dudes. We are climbing forever. I keep trying to visualize where we are on the map in my head and the spot that is me, is moving so very slowly compared to the size of the course. Ugh.

Michelle comes around me, I hop on her wheel, but she keeps cranking it up. My brain only screams why? I stay there for a couple of miles, but I have gotten bored on the gravel only climb and I’m having a hard time making myself care enough to stay with her. I let her and the couple of guys she was towing go. I find my own entourage of masters men to tow up the hill. We have jovial conversations about cycling and the like. Well I have jovial conversations, they are mostly grunting or wheezing at me. I hear one of them call me an animal on the only steep single track section. I respond back that no, I’m just 50lbs lighter than them so I have less to haul up a hill. That probably didnt make them any happier – I wasnt calling them fat, just pointing out that they are average to tall dudes, and I’m a mostly petite female. I dont know what it is, but this year I really feel like climbing and I have become close friends.

I finally get to the top! I dont have a watch or a speedometer or even a heart rate monitor on at this point. I’m just going. The side hill gravel road was in great shape, had a slight net decent of a 2-4%. Big ring time. Nobody in sight for the most part, couple of dudes who pop out of the woods and FLY by me. So I keep on trucking at my pace. I’m singing the Eel’s “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues” (dont ask, I’m weird, and mostly it was the refrain of “Goddamn right its a beautiful day!”) and grinning. I feel good, I’ve had enough to eat, I feel strong. I am going to decimate this race. I know it. I pedal harder.

I get to the downhill section. I was worried about this. My usual weakness is the descending part. I tend to be timid and over use my brakes. So I made pact with myself: Since I was feeling good and had plenty of calories in me I would go as hard as I could. I would let off the brakes, and let my bike do what it is supposed to do – ride over obstacles in my way. I giggled the whole way down. I kept off the brakes as much as possible and I hardly got passed by any of the guys behind me. I was wishing on parts of the course that I had full suspension. My legs started to cramp when I had my right foot forward too often. So I taught/forced myself to do it with the left forward (I’m totally 100% left footed, I snowboard goofy, and on the mtb when my left foot is back, I can control the bike much easier). I kept it upright until some young kid came bombing down the hill out of control, I let him pass but he wiped out on a sandy corner directly in front of me. I either
ate it, or I ran over him. I ate it.

So I get down into town. I have to finish on the road. As I’m hauling ASS on the road, so idiot in a mini van (go figure) backs up and turns to go down the road too. Except he has no clue that there is a bike race happening. So he is going down the hill at below the posted speed limit and braking into the corners. I am desperate to get around this dude, but I am not going to pass on blind corners. So I bide my time and get around the moron. I finish at 2:31. Michelle finishes 5 minutes before I do (probably due to that dumb van).

We both win our categories (Michelle is in the 35+ Cat 2, I’m in the under 35 Cat 2)! I won by huge amounts of time. And by huge I mean over 30 minutes.

It wasnt the hardest or even the most mtn bikey course I’ve ever ridden. But it still felt good to win. I am going to try to do that from now on. Well until I get upgraded that is.

Podium Shot


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