Red Rock Rampage
St. George, UT, March 24, 2018
Type: Mountain Bike- XC
Category: Women’s Expert
The first race of the 2018 Intermountain Cup Racing Series snuck up quickly in between the early spring snowflakes and my long winter work hours, but it did not disappoint. The weather in St. George was a perfect 70F under partially cloudy skies. After a super early morning start and a beautiful 4 hour drive to southern Utah, complete with pink and purple sun rising over the mountains, I arrived at what looked like a veritable party on the edge of the desert. I parked with the others amidst the desert scrub, eager to get this first race of the season started.
I was both anxious and super excited going into this race. Mountain bike racing brought me into the sport of cycling 20 years ago but I hadn’t raced a mountain bike in over 15 years. Just as I was about to hang up my road racing shoes, Teresa convinced me to hop back into mountain bike racing. I did one race last summer as a sport rider and walked away with the top podium spot. I had so much fun that day that I decided to come back to mountain bike racing full time, this year in the expert category. Unfortunately, life gets in the way sometimes and my training hours suffered this winter. Coming into race day I knew that I was not as fit as I had wanted to be and would be up against girls who lived in warmer climates that enabled them to ride outside all winter long, but I was still psyched to go tear it up in the desert with a fast group of ladies.
The race started with a nice long section of rolling double track. I started well and quickly found myself on the front of our tiny group of 7 starters, setting the pace just like I have done hundreds of times before on the road. I could hear lots of heavy breathing next to and behind me. So I cranked up the pace. Suddenly there were only 3 of us together and no one else in sight. We hit the single track and continued to battle it out through the technical sections that took us up slick rock steps and slabs, cut into deep gullies in the hillside. We continued to climb, winding up sandy single track that switched back and popped up onto open ridge tops. I felt great, until suddenly I didn’t. At about 30 minutes into the race my body decided that it wasn’t quite fit enough yet for this race pace that had been so natural in seasons past. I watched my hoped-for podium spot fade to second, third, and finally fourth as my legs turned to lead and the others riders easily caught back up and pedaled on by me. I pushed on, completing the race, with my pre-race expectation changed from “podium day” to “training day”. Despite a disappointing result, the course, scenery, and other racers made for a killer training day on the bike that I would repeat 100 times over if I could.
With 6 more races left in the I-Cup Series this summer, I plan to find that top step before the season is done!