Well, it went down alright. OP was a blast and there was some good competition, as always!
We drove out Wednesday and when I got to the course Thursday, my preride went well. The course was nice (though a little dry – hmmm…middle of the desert.) The new section that June and Phil from Hemet designed (so I hear) was super nice. Fun twisty funky slow single track, kinda like IDY. I imagined riding it half asleep in the dark and knew I’d have fun with that! I saw Todd S. afterwards and he said it looked like it was about to get a little stickier though.
We went into Tucson to hang out with Matt and do some last minute tweaking on the expo and pit setups. He and Katie (and now his sister Emily) are always awesome hosts. They open up their place to us every time we go out, no matter how busy they are with their real lives.
We received some last minute stuff from the Path (thanks Brian) and from sponsors and also got our new batch of stickers and t-shirts at Matt’s house. So exciting! The expo was going to be decked out this year. I won’t talk too much about the expo as that’s Brendan’s front, but we went well stocked with demo bikes and they got ridden well!
Friday it was back to the course, the only problem was that it had been raining all night Thursday night and now was starting to snow!! Yeah, in Tucson! We got the expo set up and got the Siren trailer into the race pit. I scored us a good spot, just after the dips in solo row – we made it Sirentown! Unfortunately, with the snow, I didn’t get in another ride Friday – good thing I got in that ride Thursday.
We learned from Moab, that camping the night before wouldn’t help any on race day, so we drove back into Tucson to crash at Matt’s house Friday night. Saturday, we got out to the race course early and I got the pit set up once the guys got going in the expo. We had Scott Sportsman pitting with us and then of course Todd C. and Brad Majors from Chicago. My good friend from Vail, Carrie, came out to be dedicated support and so did Dan (Todd and Brad’s friend from Chicago.) We had the setup! We had the propane heater and Jim from Kenda gave me an ezup with walls to use, since our ezups went to the expo.
The weather wasn’t looking good most of the morning, but right as we started the run, the sun came out! It was awesome – I mean running. I’d been getting ready for the run by doing some half mile runs with my training. Lynda was right, it would take the edge off. She advised me to just let gravity carry me down the hill and stroll up to my bike. I did, and I can’t believe it, I was right up in the front. I took off on the first lap holding firs.t (I kept wondering if i was going out too hard, but looking at my heartrate, I wasn’t) I couldn’t believe how good i felt and I was totally pacing myself and was off the front from all the other solo women.
By lap 2, Sara caught me and we rode together for a lap. Then, we got a little competitive and I took off from her on the 3rd. From there, we went back and forth into the night swapping 1st and 2nd places a couple of times and gaining a little gap over the field. Finally, in the middle of the night, Sara dropped. It froze out there and we watched the frost form as we were riding. I felt like the moisture in my body was freezing and it got super hard to keep warm. I kept stopping at aid stations to warm up.
In the morning, the sun came up and I was still having a hard time staying awake. I stopped at the “golf” aid station and had some coffee and warmed up by the fire. This was all costing me time, but I was getting too close to too many cholla cactus to keep riding how I was. My last few laps slowed down a lot, but I kept riding. Finally, in the last lap someone snuck up on me and passed me (yeah, just like that, it happened.) I was working so hard to stay awake and stopped for a bit before my last lap to rest a while. She earned it fair and square, but DAMN! That was hard to swallow.
I didn’t do as good as I’d hoped, but ended up 9th overall amongst the solo open men and women. There were about 100 men and 19 women, so not a bad race for the first biggie of the year. My teammate Todd kicked much butt in the men’s field coming in 3rd. He said he was going into it out of shape, but that didn’t show! He pedaled through a consistent strong race as always! Matt’s sister Emily did her first 24 on a team and I think she’s bitten by the bug. It was so much fun seeing all the Tucson people out there, who are starting to make AZ feel like our second home.
I owe a huge thanks to all my support, especially Matt, Brendan and Carrie. I couldn’t have made it through without your help. Also, thanks goes out to Jim with Kenda for all his help at the event and also to Stan’s NoTubes, Giro, GoreBikeWear, Magura, Syntace, and everyone that helped me pull this together and get everything I needed to have a super successful event.
I guess it’s time to move on to the next big adventure! Stay tuned, it’s BIG!