Or at least that's what I keep telling myself.
After a very relaxing and fun Thanksgiving break, filled with good food, good company, black Friday shenanigans and movies, I found myself at MABRA Championships in Taneytown, MD on Sunday morning.
With a few, but productive hours of sleep I headed out to Maryland, a bit weary of any Thanksgiving traffic that might be. There wasn't any, and so I arrived with plenty of time to register and huddle for warmth in my car, before preparing to layer up and pre-ride. I shouldn't complain about the cold, since our season thus far has been fairly warm, but I will anyway. It was COLD. I decided I would race in knickers layered underneath my skin suit, with arm warmers. For my warm up though, I slid tights on over and another layer on top.
Just as I was to ride off to pre-ride, I saw Nicole, headed over to registration. I told her I'd catch up with her on the course.
Last year, this course was nothing but mud, so we were fortunate to have a not-so-sloppy course this year. As fun as mud is, it can be treacherous. The course had been modified a bit, but was still full of sharp corners and some tricky off-cambor. The course was fun AND tricky. This, I quickly learned as I approached a patch of dried mud. I took it much too fast and didn't notice the rolling nature of the earth. My bike hit a rut at a weird angle and I went head over handlebars. I landed HARD on my right side: quad, hip and shoulder (the same shoulder I separated last year). My bike landed on top of me, right foot still clipped in. I took a brief inventory of my body and though I knew there would be a huge bruise branded on me, I was fine. But Surly was not.
Her handlebar had bent, thus making the front brake inoperable. I quickly ushered ourselves off the course and back to my car. Fortunately, I had enough time to inspect and repair her, with help from the guy parked beside me. Though I had the front brake working, my front wheel wasn't moving. I fixed it enough so that although the brakes we rubbing, I could still ride. I did another lap of the course just so I could make it all the way around. I returned to the car and poked and prodded more with my front break. With help from Nicole and the same guy, we got it so that the brake wasn't rubbing. My bike probably wasn't the safest to ride, but I didn't care.
Off to the start line where Nicole and I, along with the other woman, chatted, stripped down to our base layers, ready to line up. I knew that it could be a fast course, but that I have to ride it smart, or I'd risk crashing. Oddly, most of the women had also indicated that they had crashed during warm up but on a completely different part of the course--a part that I had no problems battling.
With a blow of the whistle and two minutes behind the CAT 4 men, we were off. It wasn't an incredibly fast start, so I held with the pack for much of the first half of the lap. We were all being cautious. Nicole passed me as we rode the wheel of the gal in front of us. She passed her as well, which left me to trail the gal in front for the rest of that lap and the next one. I then passed her, and tried to gain on the HVC rider in front. She was the same girl that I battled with at Race Pace. She was a bit more spry this week, so I let her go. I had the girl behind to worry about. She wasn't that far behind so I needed not to get lazy or tired.
I was still leading her on the third lap, when I slid on a steep off-cambor section. I got distracted for a nano-second and found myself lose traction and just slid. I was able to quickly get up and run with my bike a little before remounting. I put a little extra momentum for fear that she'd catch me. As I made my way through the slalom of trees, barriers and sand, I was enough ahead of her, that with 2 laps to go, I focused on me.
From my fall on the pre-ride, I felt my hip muscles tighten uncomfortable, so I worked on keeping them loose and relaxed so they wouldn't spasm. I also worked on keeping a steady and high candence. With two laps to go I felt very strong and felt like I was mastering the course better and better. I lapped another gal on the course, as well. My last lap was the best, as I was able to hold off the women's race leader from catching me, although I didn't know she was chasing me at the time. I crossed the finish line moments before she did. Though I finished 10th overall and didn't get lapped, I wasn't able to bust into the top ten in the overall rankings. I did move up from 13th though to finish 12th.
I am very happy with my MABRA season. I had more fun this season than I've had in a long time, which I am learning helps me become a better racer!
This morning, as I write this, I am heavily bruised and sore. All seems to be working, though so I should be fine by tomorrow. See you all next week at Captiol Cross in Reston!