Getting ready for my first enduro MTB race I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I have only been riding for 3 months and I really didn’t have a proper gauge of my ability level. I wasn’t sure if I was ready and I definitely didn’t know what class to enter.
Beginner… ya because Im a beginner right? But wait, Last year only 2 girls entered beginner and I don’t want to win or place by default. Oh congratulations Clair you got second place, because there were only 2 of you! I don’t think so.
So I decided to enter sport class which is basically intermediate. I didn’t know how many girls would be there and where I would rank amongst them but I had to give it a shot.
The night before the race I went to bed way to late. Around 1am and I had to be up at 5:50. Lucky for me my occasional insomnia decided it was time to pay me a visit. I slept maybe 2 hours before it was time to get up and ready to go. Nerves had a big roll in that Im sure! See I was homeschooled and I never played any kind of sports where competitiveness was a factor. I was always demonized for being competitive as a kid so I lost that edge. But it was time to see if I could get it back.
It was a chilly morning up at vail lake resort, Temecula in Southern California. A brisk 42 degrees when we pulled up. After getting everything ready I went to register and get my number plate. There were only 2 girls in line so I was worried and slightly pissed that there are so few girls in these sports. Whats up with that.
After registration we had a pretty annoying and decently long climb up a fire road before arriving at the start of stage one. At the top I wanted to hide behind a bush. There were so many people. Well so many guys. All shit talking, laughing loudly, obviously pretty confident. Our race order was announced and much to my pleasure Women Sport would be towards the back of the pack, only preceding beginner women and junior open class. I was so excited. All the boys would be going first and I wouldn’t have to worry about them watching my start. I don’t like being watched by people.
While I was waiting for my turn I was excited to find out there were 7 girls racing in my class. and much to my surprise, unlike many of my other sports, the girls were incredibly nice. Just totally sweet, wanted to chat and talk about the different stages, other races, why they love it. It was such a breath of fresh air to see women, who would be competing against each other, so open, happy and talkative.
I got to see my boyfriend start about 20 people ahead of me and before I knew it I was next in line to start. My palms were definitely sweating as the timer was counting down and when the buzzer went off so did I. It was easy at first. for the first few turns, but then the course got a bit gnarlier. The ruts were 100x worse then they were when I pre-rode the course the week before. So many people had ridden it in front of me, It was loose, bumpy and more technical but still fun. After making it down the tech sections I thought I was in the clear but the sand pit right hand turn had a different plan. My front tire washed out and I crashed. But it was soft so I got right back up and continued. The last half of the stage was pretty flat, which meant pushing really hard. pedaling my little heart out. No literally I felt like my heart was going to burst out of my chest and my lungs felt like they were on fire. The cold dry air felt like little daggers as I forced air into my lungs. When I finished stage 1 I thought I was going to die. I laid over my handle bars coughing and gasping for air, just wishing the sting would go away.
Much to my dismay it was time right away to go back to the top and start stage 2. I tried to let my lungs recover on the climb up but I was still breathing heavy.
At the top, waiting in line again and catching up with the women we realized a bunch of us crashed right around the same section. Oh well. Stage 2 was the easiest stage, with only 1 loose down hill on a sandy spine, but the sprint towards the end was killer again. Ending with a few little jumps and fun berms I felt like death again at the bottom. My boyfriends parents came to watch us race and after stage 2 they gave me a vita coco coconut water they brought for me and it was like heaven! A true life saver.
The climb up to stage 3 seemed steeper then it did the first 2 times but I knew it was because I was getting tired. I was worried about stage 3 and 4. the start was a technical rock garden and I knew people would be watching but I charged it anyway. Although I was nervous it went well and with only a few little issues I made it to the finish with no issues. That made me overly confident for the next and final stage.
On the climb up to the last stage I felt like my legs were going to fall off but I was excited to almost be finished. Waiting at the top it was hot… super hot. I could feel the sun burning my face so i crouched down behind a big bush and rested my head on my arms. I was super tired as well.
Getting up to the start gate I was oddly nervous. I don’t know why, my heart was pounding before I started and soon after the buzzer sounded I knew why. After making it over the first rocky techie section my front tire twisted a bit and got stuck and I went flying up and over the handle bars and into the rock garden. I could hear people gasp and I heard a guy yell asking if I was ok. I was more embarrassed than hurt but i jumped right up and got back on my bike. Only to find my handle bars twisted from their original position. I asked a spectator to help me realign my bars, which he did, but that minute definitely hurt my overall time. after starting to ride again about 2 min later I crashed again. Totally off my game, pissed off and I just wanted to be finished. My front tire washed out on a loose berm. Getting back up my bike had all kinds of mechanical issues now. My gears were dropping, my seat post wouldn’t stay down. I was frustrated but finished the race anyway.
At the end of the day with my horrible last stage I got 6th out of 7 in the Sport Women. If I had entered the Beginner women I would have been racing with 3 other girls and with my finishing time I would have placed first. I was relieved to know I was in the right class/category for my ability level, I was bummed about my crashes but they were spectacular.
Ultimately I was excited. Excited to get the first race out of the way, Excited to train for the next race and excited it was over because I was exhausted.
I can’t wait for my next race!