WVMBA#3 Big Bear Lake by mj

Ruth and I carpooled to wild and wonderful West Virginia for WVMBA’s race 3 at Big Bear Lake.  A nice crowd of riders gathered for the pre-race meeting at noon.  A guy tells us about the course, a few splits for beginner, sport and expert loops and a two way section for experts, so if you see anyone passing you that means your at least 5 miles off the front riders.  I KNEW I’d be waving to guys on that stretch!  haha!   

It was a mass start down a mile stretch of pavement.  I try to keep my wheels clear of the bikes tucked around me, lock out my front fork, turn on my HRM and GO!  Everyone tears down the road full throttle spreading out quickly.  I’m happy with my start as some, but few riders are passing me.  We travel the pavement a little further and start climbing.  I lighten up my gears a few and attempt to maintain my pace but find a more comfortable rhythm.  I hear someone giving props to Betsy and a moment later she comes cruising past me making a single speed look so easy!  So super nice and amazing on a bike!  She continues past many and we wont see her again.  I unlock my fork and enter the singletrack.  Its fast and thankfully drier than expected.  My heart rate starts to become a little more acceptable and I work on maintaining my position.. wherever that may be in the bunch.  I know all the experts have pulled away and I am riding with the sport guys.  Most guys friendly about passing each other but the occasional guy not so much.  I’m never quite certain if its because I’m in pink or if they actually battle it out with all riders forcing them to share the trails.  One moment in particular is hearing someone behind me truly balls to the walls.  Grunts, clanking, gears grinding, evidentally too much for so early in the ride.  As we approach the first section of pines (a beautiful section, oh so smooth and piney scented!) he calls out he’s going to pass.  “ok” I say knowing it aint gonna be pretty.  He attempts to pass and almost takes me out as he cuts me off because he cant actually make it around me.  I pretty much knew that was going to happen and was prepared, and I let him know my 2cents, “smooth pass” as he starts slowing me down.  Now I’m getting irritated as I am watching another girl pull away from me.  He pulls over for some reason.. mechanical?  blown out?  Either way I’m glad he’s behind me again, I wash it off and I try to keep her in sight.   

The course is awesome west virginia trails with lots of rocks and roots.  Sooo awesomely fun!!  I try to full throttle it (I think so anyway) on any technical or downhill sections hoping my full suspension eats up the trails more than some other bikes out there and if any time I’ll gain ground it’ll be there… maybe.   I pass the girl I’ve been chasing!  I pass a few more riders and have a brief moment of feeling expert!  I’m feeling good!  I climb a longer steady climb with a few guys.  As we approach the top a guy and pup are hanging out.. “Sport left, expert right!”   So I lose my company and the mental game begins!  I swear just a few feet after the split I’m slowing down and feeling the burn!  Happy to see a rider up ahead but watch him pull away quickly.  Ok, Michelle, snap out of it and just ride!  I reach and ride what I decide to be the most grueling climb and rocky section of the course (not sure what any other riders might say but I’m sticking to that!!)  and I feel like I am slowing to crawl speed and itching to get off and walk.  I dont though.  Getting off the bike and attempting to walk is always more painful than pedalling it out.  Forced to walk a true rock garden, but I hop back on and get myself outta there. I finally reach what seems to be the top! WHEW!!  The course returns to fast and rolling with an occasional hill that takes the wind out of my sails.  I reach a turn and the guy informs me there is two-way traffic ahead.  Not too far down the road and here come those front riders!   I stay right and cant really recognize anyone as they are truly flying down this double track road way.  I hear a hollar “MJ!” and I see TJ flying by with someone on his tail.  I manage a “yo!” and keep on.  I work my way around the seriously long 5 miles before I am starting back on the same two way section.  I start recognizing some sections and see we are back tracking the beginning portion, then once again I have no idea where I am and uncertain how much longer.  Everything is starting to hurt and I’m unintentionally slowing down.  I catch a glimpse of camp ground and know I’m getting close!  I drop down to the road and head into the final section of single track.  Yipee!!  I come through the finish.. few people hanging around since 50 minutes have passed since the men starting coming through.  I smile in relief and gotta pedal around feeling more blown out than I even realized.  ohhhhh, ehhhhhh, eeeowwwww!!  I’m so excited to be finished!  2:37:25, 6th of 9 women.  That was so fun!!  I feel so ALIVE.. and tired!!  My 69er freaking rocks out!  🙂

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