Posted by: Miriam | 10/06/2009

Pickett’s Charge Race Report

I am leaving on the 18th to SW Colorado, Durango in fact. So Pickett’s Charge was my last race in Oregon for at least 14 months, if not several years. Pickett’s is my favorite course in all of Oregon mountain biking. I’m glad that my favorite course was my last race.

Whenever I warm up, especially at elevation, I always feel awful. Legs wont turn over well, stomach is all upset, mind wandering all over the place. I force myself to just do it, because I know it’ll hurt more if I dont. It was with a little bit of a heavy heart that I lined up with the other Cat 2 ladies. I have been having a great season, so I was excited to really give it a go and see what I could do; though sad that I am going to miss all of this and all the women I see every few weeks.

So the “gun” (really it is an official who counts down into a loud speaker) and I punch it. I just go. Michelle and I are in the front, we had great starts. I keep up the pace, but it doesnt feel very fast at all. I feel like a slug actually. I am expecting the field to swarm around me any second. They dont. I look over my shoulder and to my grand surprise there is NOBODY there. I can see the rest of the field, maybe 20-30 seconds behind me. What the hell? I’m first into the single track?!? Thats never happened before. This is super awesome, I dont have to worry about passing people! Oh wait, thats right, I have to worry about people riding up on me and trying to pass me. Ugh. So my entire thought process at this point is “dont screw this up, dont screw this up!”

I get to the first technical section. Oh man. I’ve not ridden my mtn bike much in the last 3 weeks, opting for the speed of the road bike instead. I rolled over the first set of sharp poky rocks just fine. I cheered for myself. Still in the lead with one lady (Karen from Bend Bike N Sport) behind me I hit the 2nd technical section. I didnt have enough speed, which means I couldnt easily roll over the rocks. I got my front wheel hung up and that knocked me down. I wasnt really moving, which makes me feel even more stupid. I whack my left hip and left elbow pretty well. I see blood, but its not dripping so get back up. Or I should say I TRY to get back up, in doing so I stepped on the rocks with the heel of my right shoe. Not having any traction I lost my footing and hit the deck again, but this time with my right elbow. Great. I’m so damn graceful. All sorts of other women stream by me.

The rest of the race (15 of the 19 mile or so) go off with out much of a hitch. I slow down for sure in some spots. The course makes it very hard to eat, even to grab a gel that are tucked up in the leg of my shorts. I take a few pulls of the Cytomax (energy drink) from the bottle and some water from the Camelback. The course isnt super technical, but just twisty turny. Very speed controlled. At one point a girl tries to pass me when we are walking over non-rideable stuffs and she knocks me over (though it was an accident, I lost my full pack of Clif Bloks and dropped my chain – so I lost time, again). I am now pissed. I chase her down. I can tell I’m low on calories. I hope I can maintain and not bonk. Then all of the sudden we pop out at the T junction where we turn back on the fire road towards the finish. YES! I throw it in my big ring and push it HARD. I have a 1-1.5 miles to go. I can give it everything. And I can see this woman who knocked me down. I want her.

I power down the fire road. I finally have the woman close enough to give it a go, but we are 50m and closing from the finish chicane. I dig DEEP. We have to take a 90 degree left turn into the finish chute. But we are going from compacted dirt to thick deep gravel, this could be a disaster – but hey wiping out at the finish is better than at mile 5! She turns and I swing wide into the corner, Tokyo drifting as I go. I punch it for the last time and come into the finish hot. The officials and organizers are standing around pulling tags and are motioning to me to slow down. So I grab the brakes hard and slide sideways on the deep gravel into the finish. Not quite as good as a one handed wheelie. But I’ll take it.

I thought I was like 5th-3rd. I can never tell in the Cat 2s (aka Sport) since there is a Masters 35+ and an Open 18-34. We all have the same tag color. So I’m standing around, changing, eating. Getting my elbow cleaned out by the very bored cute medic on site. I wander over to look at what placing I got. 2nd!?!??!??? Holy crap, batkids! I ended up 3 minutes behind the leader. Between crashing and being knocked over/chain drop I could have contested that. But thats how racing goes. All sorts of what ifs and and woulda couldas. But I’ll take 2nd. Esp after crashing and not eating.

I know now I’m probably being called the sand bagger. I would upgrade if I was not moving to mtn biking heaven. I make no promises to be even remotely competitive out there.

I love mountain biking.

Pictures coming soon.

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