Friday, November 12, 2010

The Swank Race Report

Now that's the way to end a fantastic, fun-filled season!  I was worried after my Berryman fiasco that I would repeat, either with a bike or body mechanical.  I left everything out on the trail and could not have raced it better.

2008 S-Works SJ FSR with Ergon bling!

I chose Stumpy to race, for the stability and extra travel.  I raced her at The Pisgah Stage Race and was in awe how she responded to the technical terrain ... I can only imagine how a 2011 model would perform!

Upon arriving at the venue, it was 21 degrees.  I must have muddled around for an hour or so, trying to figure out what I was going to wear.  I started out with several layers, but as the sun rose and warmed the landscape, I shed most of it. 

The start was Lemans style; I took my time and spared my ankles.  I hit the first bit of single track probably in the top 30-40.  It was a pretty mellow pace climbing Thrift Cove.  I was wanting to go, go , go, but I also did not want to spend precious energy passing people or throw a stick into my derailleur.  I do believe this 20 minutes spent warming up Thrift Cove was in my best interest.

As it opened up onto some double track, I was able to let the reins loose and fly.  Indeed I did fly by a lot of people.  My legs were sparkly and it felt as if there were no chain on the bike.  I had not ridden the first section of Daniel Ridge since '08 so I did slow a bit to negotiate the tight, twisty turns and multiple bridges.  But once out onto FS 475, I gunned it.  One fellow I passed said I was in first place, to which I replied, "No, I am not.  There are quite a few guys in front of me."  He then proceeded to tell me I was probably in the top 20.  I took that as a top 30-35; not bad this early in the race.  I usually am pretty consistent throughout the entirety of the race, while a lot of guys seem to blow their stack about the midway point.  I had multiple carrot opportunities in front of me.

The top of Butter Gap Trail

Butter Gap was a hoot.  Having ridden it the day before, I was able to rail it, despite the leaves.  There was one sketchy area where a natural spring follows the trail; it was slick and muddy, but I managed to keep the rubber side down.

You ride down this rocky section; may not look it but traction is superb.

Long Branch is a 2.5 mile climb back up to FS 475.  Although super steep in areas, it flows well.  I was able to ride it all, despite having a couple guys in front bobble.  The next bit of fire road was climbing up to Farlow;  all I know is that it is much easier to race up this steep section when you are fresh as compared to seeing it on Day 3 of the PSR.  There were a few downhillers at the top getting ready to ride Farlow.  As I passed one of them, I earned a new nickname, "the goddess of internal combustion."  Quite a compliment, thank you very much Mr. Downhiller.

I do believer all the leaves on Farlow made it easier to ride.  It made the trail appear smoother;  I leaned back onto my rear tire and let Stumpy do the work.  I did dismount in several areas, fearing death or dismemberment.  Hey, this gal has gotta work come Monday!  One guy on a Gary Fisher SS 29'r blew by me like I was sitting still.  He was awesome!  But I did ride more of it than during PSR.  I also ran the hike-a-bike sections faster.  I was able to hold my own within a group of guys during the hiking.  Let's remember, I am having to push/carry a greater percentage of my weight than the men.

On the final descent down the last bit of Farlow and Daniel Ridge, I did let a few guys by me.  They were rockin' it.  I also had vivid memories of that dreaded sidewall gash at Berryman and did not want a repeat on this rocky descent.  I stopped at aid station 3 and grabbed a bottle to get me through the last 10 miles or so.

I treated this last 10 miles like an XC race.  Knowing that the last few miles were descending Thrift Cove Trail to the finish, I rode the last 7 miles like a scalded dog!  After big-ringing FS 475 and Davidson River Trail, I TT'd up FS 475B and FS 225.  This 4 miles of climbing I had done earlier this year while on a recon mission so I knew just how far I had to go.  I put the hammer down and passed ALL the guys who had passed me on Farlow.

I did let Mr. SS Phenom by on Thrift Cove.  This last bit of single track was over before I knew it.  I could smell the hamburgers grilling on the final 0.5 mile descent.  Oh, that was mouth watering!  I rolled under the Finish line in 4:15:03 ... 1st lady and 18th O/A (out of 150).  Whew!  A perfect season ender!

Coach dialed me in perfect for the last two races.  I am most grateful that I was able to perform well at both; that definitely gives me the confidence I will need going on into the winter preparing for 2011.  Hmmm ... now I get to start planning my 2011 season.  Exciting times ... exciting times indeed!


Lynda Wallenfels said...

A most excellent way to top your season. Congrats on an all around killer season this year. Looking forward to see what 2011 brings.

Walter said...

Great job Carey! Thanks for taking us along with you via the recaps all season long.