|Who wants to go play bicycle?|
We were let loose right at 9am and in a bit of a frenzy everyone rolled out through the streets of Santa Rosa on our way to Annadel State Park. I tried to jump on Kyle's wheel for a bit, but he was hauling and I opted for self-preservation and dialed it back after a few minutes.
After a few miles on pavement, we hit the trails in a massive cloud of dust. This was quite the rowdy free-for-all. I noticed two girls up ahead of me and tried to keep them in my sights for bit. Mass-start races are fun but also slightly crazy. It can be challenging to tell exactly who you're racing, and who's doing what distance (31 miles for Pro/Expert/Some Sport Men vs. 25 miles for Sport/Beginner). I'm not saying I mind racing with mixed groups at all - but sometimes it can be frustrating when trails get clogged or people (boys...men...you know.. cough cough) blow past you on the downhill but then you pass them on the climb...or they yell at you to let them pass, and then when you move over they say "no I want to pass on the other side" .... Yay bike racing! Smile and keep going.
The race course was a big loop with two big climbs and two big downhills. With the mass start, and not sure what girls I had seen earlier, I had no clue where I was sitting in the race. Since I hadn't seen too many other girls, my deep down competitive nature was thinking I was doing OK but again - so hard to say. Near the start of the first big climb, one other girl - another Emily! - caught up with me. She was super nice and we chatted a bit before the climb got the better of our abilities to talk and pedal at near race-pace....and then I got my tail dropped like a bad habit on the downhill.
While the first climb had been smooth flow-y, as well as a good portion of the subsequent downhill, the second climb felt like an eternal rock-garden. We climbed on rocks, we traversed over rocks, we descended a little on rocks, and then climbed on rocks again. My lower back was screaming for a full-suspension, but that only motivated me to keep spinning so I could finish faster. Whew. Whoever told me that trails out west weren't rocky or technical was playing a mean joke on me.
Soon the trail opened up into a big fire-road signaling the home stretch! Whoohoo! First mountain bike race in almost a year was almost done and almost a success! Talk about a home stretch - the finishing downhill was about 5-miles long, with the final few on fire road. Time to get over my fear of downhill fast!! Butt off the back, light on the brakes when necessary, hold on for dear life and yeee hah!
|Aaron, me, Justin & Kyle post-race|
|Annadel XC Women's Expert Podium|
Cross is coming ....