The weather this spring in PA has been well,really really rainy. Or as the local weather predictors would say expect 'significant downpours'.
Luckily, I like racing my bike in the rain. The harsher the conditions the stronger I feel as I know that unless my bike breaks I will never quit due to weather. This moto has served me well, especially throughout most of my races last year: Cohutta-severe thunder and lightening (or as Steve Thorne said 'smiled a lot, feared for life'); Mohican-severe thunder and lightening (lives were lost close to the race); Stoopid 50-on and off rain with greasy rocks. This is because all I ever knew before moving to the USA was to ride my bike in the rain. In Scotland if you don't do things in the rain, you will spend your life indoors!
So the second race in the xc calendar this past weekend, Tour de Tykes, was postponed until Sunday because of these significant downpours. I have to admit as I sat inside with a chesty cough on Saturday I was a little relieved.
Some bugs have being flying around the community and I knew I could easily catch something. I started to feel a little unwell on Thursday, but I got straight to the routine in our house of gargling salt, chewing on garlic and drinking emergen-c. People laugh but if you do this as soon as you start to feel unwell it works (trust me!). Coupled with some openers on the rollers I started to feel more confident that I was going to be ok.
I was excited to race Tour de Tykes despite my unease at getting sick. It is probably the hardest of the MASS xc - 4500 ft of climbing in 19 miles of 90% singletrack. My carbon bike was still out of commission so I was racing the trusty Rig again! Yes it might be ugly, heavy, but as I keep harping on, I have my best rides on that bike avec or sans gears. I do know however, that I will appreciate lugging something lighter around the 100 miles in Tennessee.
Going into the race I knew I had to be smart. I have raced TdT the past 2 years. There are no sections to fully recover on, the single track climbs are relentless and the descents are technical, and as I was to find on Sunday, very washed out. I knew I had to play it safe at the beginning, conserve energy and sip on my super liquid nutrition In other words I treated it as an endurance race.
Kathleen was looking strong again. We dropped the field on the one and only road/river bed climb. I let her go off and tried not to red line it. As we passed the approx half way mark I started to see more and more of Kathleen. I kept a steady constant pace and started to reel her in. I caught her at the worst section where we both ended up having to push our bikes, we were bumping into each other, all over the place, scrambling. I was being clumsy but wasn't actually that tired. It was really close in the end, but on the hike a bike section (with a mile or so to go) I started to pull away, and I can only put it down to my endurance training. K's a tough cookie to beat, and I am sure we will have more friendly battles on the trails in years to come.
So I got the 'W'. It was lovely to see some of the State College crew at the finish, though I was sorry Pete Buckland had had to drop out because of tire issues. He is riding really strong this year already and will be a force in Trans Epic. MASS now has equal payout for men and woman. I race because I love it, but the money sure does help me get by with parts and petrol and all the bits and pieces that go along with racing.
I reckon I am saying au revoir to the xc legs for a while as next up is Cohutta 100. It's the first long race of the season so you never know how the body is going to react. Either way it will be good to get the NUE season underway, see some of the old faces and battle with some of the dudes (or should I say, they can battle with me and I am blissfully unaware!).
I must also start to give some thoughts on the up and coming Trans Epic, but that is for another day as it still seems like a life time away.