Date: 2 November 2014
Location: Casupito, Aragua, Venezuela
Participants: Claudia Peñaloza
It was particularly hot and dry as we lined up for the start, just shy of high noon; only four racers in the Female Expert category this time so we were promptly combined with the Female Elites (scored separately). In a frenzied scramble of bikes and dirt, we are off. The course, a 4.3 mi fire-road & single-track with 755 ft of elevation gain on each of the 3 laps we were to complete, started almost immediately at the bottom of a punishing 0.9 mi, 508 m elevation gain climb with ZERO shade. Final placing was all but decided on that first lap, with two of the Elites and Jenny Gómez, the 1st place Expert, summiting with relative ease ahead of the rest. The next two laps were like a game of leap frog between myself, Claudia Peñaloza (2nd place Expert) and Mariana Natera (3rd place Expert) during which we challenged, supported, and raced each other hard. I was having trouble with “the hill” on each lap, walking up 1/3 of it on the second lap after trying to pass Mariana too soon… it was SO HOT I felt like I was being deep fried and survived because of the cold water poured on me at the aid stations. On the final lap, after patiently climbing ~90% of the hill with Mariana, I able to pass and gain some ground on her. By the finish line, I had gained 2 min and come in for a solid 2nd place. This race was also the last in this year’s Gatorade Championship, in which I finished 4th despite missing two races. It was a good “return to mountain biking” year; next year I will be racing Elites and will have more than my fair share of work cut out for me.
Claudia Peñaloza 2nd place