Sol Survivor Cross Country

Nick and I weren't planning on pre-riding at first, but decided to ride on Saturday after finding out that the course had changed from last year. It was a good move, since there were some very tricky sections (in my opinion) that I was happy to know about before hand. Overall, the course was fun, espcially the top of the long loop. Like most ski resort races, there was a lot of climbing, but not as much single track climbing as at Copper.

At the starting line, it was clear that we are getting to the end of a very long season. The orginial start times had each age class in the the Cat 1 women starting seperatly, but we all started together. Starting with a monster climb, I just settled into the granny gear and spun up the hill. Sara and Sarka from Yeti Beti and I entered the first section of single track together, chasing one rider. We climbed together until the road, then Sarka dropped off the pace. Sarah and I tried working together on the road sections to reel in the first placed women, but she was climbing just a little too fast. Sarah decided to back off when we reached the last single track climb at the top of the loop, but I kept chasing. It was more about making time before the sketchy downhill that I was planning on walking. This was not a descent that I was very comfortable about, at all. There was one section that was nearly 75 feet, steep, straight down with small stumps buried in ankle deep sand. Hit one stump wrong and it would be curtians on the race. One of the pro men actually caught me on his second lap while I was making my way through the sand. He got off and walked the last piece, so I didn't feel so bad. Sarka had a fabulous descent this race and caught me just after I remounted my bike. She rode the steep section both times - something very few racers managed.

We started the second lap together, but I wasn't willing to work together this time. At the top of the start hill, I grabbed the big ring and took off. The climb was shorter on the second lap - we were doing a smaller loop, but that took out the fun single track at the top. I needed to make the road sections count. The woman leading the Cat 1 race was in sight again on the first single track and I slowly started to make up ground. I hadn't pushed too hard on the first lap and was able to use my climbing to my advantage. Just before the start of the final descent, I managed to catch and pass the other woman. I didn't get much of a gap. I wasn't sure if it would be enough to hold onto the lead. I ran the steep downhill again, lifting my bike onto my shoulder this time. That helped a lot with speed and balance. I took the down hill really gingerly - just not feeling smooth on the bike. Held onto the lead until the last turn onto the road, and somehow managed to skid out and end up in the dirt. Right in front of the finish line and all the spectators - very elegant. I did finish second in the Cat 1 race, first in the age class. Sarka was close behind, having a very strong race this weekend.

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