Sorry this post is SOOOOO late. After Winter Park I was off to Crested Butte and Moab for another week of adventuring with my bicycle! I am finally home, with internet and a broken bike, so I have no reason to not write.
BOOM. First EWS race DUNZO.
The Enduro World Series came to Winter Park, Colorado for the fifth stop of the seven stop international tour July 25-27. The tour stop was in conjunction with the Colorado Freeride Festival. The original roster listed 40 open women, including Tracy Moseley, Anne Caro Chausson, Anneke Beerten, Rosara Joseph, Cecile Ravanel, Anka Martin, Tracey Hannah, Kelli Emmett, Heather Irmiger, etc.; the final results at the end of the weekend only had 27 finishers on it. Fortunately, I was on both of those lists.
For starters, Trestle Bike Park is totally wicked. It is a great combination of manicured jump trails and perfect berms and features, along with totally raw single track laced with roots and rock gardens. Wanna pedal? There's plenty of that too. The race was 7 stages over three days. Two stages the first day, three stages the second, and two stages on the final day. Even though the stages are usually between 5 and 15 minutes, three days of racing had me feeling pretty beat by the end. The format of the race could have lent itself to that a little more than usual though. At most races, the courses are announced several days in advance so that riders have the chance to pre-ride, if they so choose. Not the case for the EWS. Courses were announced at noon the day prior to racing them--so Friday's stages were announced Thursday, Saturday's on Friday... Of course you can still show up early and make well-educated guesses about what trails to ride but pre-riding stages after a morning of racing was definitely tiring.
The experience of my first EWS was something that cannot be described by any word other than inspiring. I was surrounded by some of the fastest men and women on two wheels, I got to watch them ride and chit chat with them like they were friends I have had for awhile. That seems to be the nature of every badass biker I meet: laid-back, friendly, helpful, easy to talk with. That makes the oh-so-intimidating race line-up a little easier to swallow.
In the days leading up to the race I was not feeling particularly spectacular. The Friday previous I had crashed and it cost me a trip to the plastic surgeon and 10 stitches in my left elbow. Due to the severity of the cut on my arm, my doctor prescribed me a hefty dose of Cephalexin (2250mg a day for a week), an anti MRSA medication that made me feel drained and unattached to my body. (I am glad I had it though, as I came to find out that a girl I was racing with ended up getting a MRSA infection from just a small cut on her leg! Sorry Syd!) The whiplash I sustained from my crash was also not the most awesome thing. I could barely move until I got into to see my massage therapist; after seeing her my muscles were looser but I was incredibly sore for a couple of days. But life must go on...
And it did. Friday was 2 stages; the trails included Search and Seizure, Rain Maker, Boot Camp, Trestle DH, Jury Duty, Bear Arms, and Boulevard. AKA jumps, berms, bridges, gnar. It ended up being a decent day, but a high speed OTB at the end of stage 2 cost me a good chunk of time. Saturday was 3 stages and started with mandatory transfers to the top of stages 4&5 for practice followed by the transfer to the top of stage 3 for the start of the race. Stage 3 was Mountain Goat trail, famous for its rock garden and "rotor rock." We had pre-ridden Mountain Goat a few times by that point and had sessioned the rock garden several times. Unfortunately, I managed to hit rotor rock during my race run, mangling my rotor to the point of no return. Goat trail is really physical, and my rotor was so warped I had to pedal the whole time to keep it from stopping my rear wheel from rotating. I also lost my back brake when I bashed my rotor, so I was being extra careful about speed and using my front brake. I attempted to bend my rotor back by hand, but there was no hope. Thankfully at the top of stage 4 Tracy Moseley had a tool and I was able to bend my rotor into submission... at least to the point where it would rotate through my brake pads and not stop immediately. Stages 4&5 were two stages that racers only got to pre-ride once the morning of. They were totally rugged, meandering through slash piles and a burn area. I really really liked both of them, maybe because they reminded me a lot of Flagstaff.
The last day was 2 stages, the first was a total XC stage--10 minutes of non-stop pedaling and sprinting across flat ground... Minus the one really fast, super chundery double track. I'll be honest, stage 6 was awful. Probably not for the reason you are guessing. About 500 yards after we dropped onto the double track from a fire road, Brittany Clawson, a friend of mine from Durango had crashed. HARD. I stopped immediately when I saw her and got off my bike to find that she was unconscious and bleeding. I started yelling as loud as I could that there was a racer down and that we needed a medic and I unstrapped her helmet and took her goggles off. Thank goodness Mal had stopped just below us and came running up to help. Mal stayed with Brittany and I took off to try and find someone with a radio. There were no course marshals--the only person I saw until I got to the bottom was a photographer who I told to call someone. It wasn't until I got to the finish line that a race official started running up to help. Brittany ended up with three skull fractures, a TBI, 2 pelvic fractures, and a broken sacrum. Hero of the year award goes to Miss Mal Burda for remaining calm and in control in an awful situation and staying with Brittany while they waited for medics and race officials. Send Brittany all your healing vibes; according to her Facebook she has finally been transferred from the hospital in Denver and is ready to "make PT her b*tch!"You go girlfriend.
After a long delay we finally raced stage 7, which was the gnarliest stage of the weekend--all of Trestle DH, Bear Arms and Space Ape. My nerves were totally wacked out and my heart was beating at its max heart rate in the start. As nervous and morbid as all us girls were feeling after Brittany's crash, it was the last thing we could do to fling ourselves down the mountain like she would. I made it down without crashing, but it was by no means fast. Oh well.
Ultimately the weekend did not go as I wanted it to. A crash and Brittany's unfortunate mishap took its toll, but in the end I could not be happier that I finished my first EWS race and finished it safely. I finished 23rd out of 27. I got to meet, ride, and make friends with some wicked fast and wicked awesome people. The weekend reinforced the fact that I need to continue working on jumps and braking technique, and I though I can make my way through gnarly technical sections, I need to work on my finesse (hmmmm...) and going faster through them. I suppose that will come with time and experience--something I am lacking at this point in time. This month marks the two year anniversary of when I started riding bikes, so I suppose I shouldn't be as frustrated as I am when I get destroyed by women who have been riding significantly longer than I have. As a matter of fact, I was one of the youngest in the pro women's field. There was another girl who was also 20, and a girl who was 19. Yay, 1994!
It's off to Moab for the next and last BME (8/23) before the Ultra Enduro in Crested Butte in September (9/3-9/7) (I missed my most amazing friends birthday for this race cause I suck). After Winter Park I headed to Crested Butte with my family to try and do some pre-riding for the Ultra Enduro. We arrived Monday to some serious rain, and it continued to rain through Tuesday afternoon and beyond. Unfortunately I did not get to do ANY riding at the Butt, but headed to Moab for the next 4 days and was met with lots of sunshine.
Scott and Kyle came and met me in Moab. We rode the whole enchilada twice and Hymasa and Capt. Ahab once. It was HOT so we rode really early. Last year's race was one stage from the top of Burro pass down to where the climb to Hazzard County starts, and then another stage from Hazzard County all the way to the bottom of Porcupine Rim. BRUTAL. I'm pretty sure this year the one day race will be more than two stages (fingers crossed). It's going to be an insanely difficult and physical race regardless.
It was a long but good 12 days of traveling and riding. My body needs a break and my bike has found multiple ways to ensure that I get that break. After Moab I had to replace my derailleur, all of my bearings need to be replaced, I have a massive crack in the seat stay of rear triangle, and at the beginning of my ride this morning I discovered that the damper in my fork is no more. Sweet. Good thing I know a good mechanic;) Time to log some miles on the road bike.
Writing is something I have always been passionate about. I love sharing my stories, my thoughts, my advice, but mostly, I write to record memories and express myself. So here are a few of my fondest memories, best and worst moments, my most profound and boisterous thoughts, and riskiest advice. Enjoy!