Date: March 15th, 2015
Race: 1era Válida del XXII Circuito de MTB Gatorade, Venezuela 2015
Location: Anare, Vargas, Venezuela
Rider(s): Claudia Peñaloza
Results: 5th place Elite Female
The first race of this year's Gatorade MTB circuit took us to the beautiful beach-side town of Anare. More than 2000 cyclists, to be split up into Sport, Expert, and Elite categories, made the trip. After a good season in Experts last year, I was allowed, and thrilled, to test myself against the world class Elite racers for the first time.
Elite men and women were sent off first and we promptly set out down the 10 km (6.21 mi) asphalt approach to the mountain course. Two groups formed early on; I was able to catch up to the first group, and join the would-be 1st and 2nd place Elite Females (Marcia Barrios and Nelismas Gomez, respectively), to draft off the men. However, as soon as we turned onto the dirt, a gap opened up and it was time to buckle down and race against the mountain; 6.2 km (3.85 mi), average 8 % grade, 543 m (1782 ft) gain was the first of many climbs I needed to conquer.
We labored up the mountain as fast as our legs would go, though mine felt a little sluggish. About half-way up the 3rd place Elite Female (Elsa Peñaloza -unrelated-), rode by. Several climbs and descents later, 4th place (Daniela Rosimber) inched by but I didn’t notice... ‘cause I was probably pulling my chain out or messing with my gears (I was a little “off” on my overall cycling skills, lets say. Nervous possibly?). I was surprised to catch up with Daniela (mostly because I didn’t know she was ahead of me), with less than 15 min to go… but another chain-suck quickly gave her the advantage. No worries, 5th place was mine and I was very happy with my performance, even more so when accounting for all the glitches. The five of us came in in the space of ~10 min, 1:17:34 for 1st and 1:26:08 for myself. I’m in the right category, now I need to work on those mountain skills!