For my first time ever, we stayed the night at Telemark Resort to ensure we'd be close and ready to go for the 8:00AM start. We gorged ourselves on food then turned in early, laying low and enjoying the super comfy bed and linens.
By 5:00AM, Jay was already up and moving, heading out to the trail to check on the conditions after this week's warmth and snowfall.. it was either gonna be a super fast ride or a death march... Luckily, the temps cooled enough overnight to keep the ski trail packed tight and we raised up the air pressure in the tires to adapt to the firm snow.
We got to the start line early, with the excitement buzzing through our veins like electricity barely contained. There was a cold wind at our backs, but we barely noticed as the start chute filled with friends and familiar faces. A light snow filled the air with a threat of rain we all hoped wouldn't come... if only the temps could hold firm, the trails would remain fast and we could stay relatively dry.Hollywood, as usual, was clipped into his pedals and attacking the moment the shotgun fired, taking the hole shot as 150+ men and women chased. He was going strong and pulling away from the fast guys until overcooking a turn as he entered the World Cup course, taking himself down. The leaders soon came around the turn and took over the race, but Jay was quick to return to his bike and jump on the back of the pack.
|Photo by Kelly Randolph|
I settled into a chase group in hot pursuit, riding outta my mind and loving it! I knew there had to be a couple of the super fast gals in front of my, but I was pretty proud of my position and kept at it. Around the 4th mile, I blew hard trying to get up a pretty unforgiving hill and was forced to run the last 10 feet of it. I stopped for a moment to catch my breath as one of the ladies rode away from me and thought to myself that there were more back there and I needed to get back on my bike.
I tried to bridge back up to the group I'd been with, but the pace was too hot, so I dialed it back a bit and settled into a good rhythm. What had been a pack of 20-some riders slowly broke into groups of 4 or more bikers that we bounced around from one to the other. About seven miles in, I tweeked my left groin on a climb and had to sit and spin my brains out to get to the top. To keep the momentum going, I tried to use the climbs for recovery by taking it slow, but attacking every downhill like a challenge to myself... Dear Snow, just you try and slow me down!
Almost to the half way mark, I came through a section with a volunteer who shouted out "Third place Woman, I think!"... There was no way that could be true, I had to have been in last place for sure... I smiled and said thanks, but was sure it was a mistake, so I tucked it away and focused on the trail once again. By the time I got to the turnaround at OO, it was only me and one other rider left in our pack, with no one else in site. He stopped to take a hand-up and I just kept going. If I was riding as tail-gunner, stopping was gonna do me no good. Fastest way to end the ride was to get to the finish, so I just kept going as fast as I could.
My legs started screaming up the climbs as I rode alone with nothing but my thoughts and the sound of my tires crunching on the packed snow. I really didn't care where I was in the pack any more... I was just having SO MUCH FUN railing down the hills, cruising through the turns, and enjoying the beautiful day. I caught the noise of sleet hitting my shoulders and thought to myself "I wonder how long it's been doing that?"... it was so very Zen.
Random skiers appeared on the trail, cheering and ringing bells, prompting me to increase my speeds as I got closer to the finish. With less than five miles to go and sleet blurring my vision through my goggles, I kicked it into a sprint with everything I had left, determined to give it everything I had. I wanted to get it done in under three hours, but I was too chicken to check the time on my Garmin.. just watched the miles tick away instead.
With maybe 2K to go, I looked up the trail and saw Hollywood riding at me. "You're flying!" he shouted as I passed him and he turned around to follow me. "You're in third place, keep it up!".... "No I'm not... but you really think I'm flying?" Sweet! He rode behind me, cheering me on until the final couple turns where he left me to finish solo. I heard a volunteer say "third place woman, number 232" into a walkie talkie as I passed by and almost lost it in astonishment...wow...
I crossed the finish with a HUGE smile on my face as I heard the announcer call out my name. I did it... I actually finished in third place! And I did it in 2:38! Beat my goal by 22 minutes!
|Photo by Kelly Randolph|
Once results were posted, I found out that I not only took 3rd in the Women's race, but 86th out of 154 riders! I had honestly thought I had been at the back of the ENTIRE pack the whole time. And there were so many fast women there, I don't know how it happened....
Jay finished strong, too, in 11th aside from his early crash and a late-race leg cramp that separated him from the group near the end of the race. I know he really wanted to be top 10, but he rode AWESOME and took on some ridiculously fast dudes. Great job, babe! And thank you tons for cheering me to the finish. :D
I'm so absolutely proud that I got to be a part of the first ever Fat Bike Birkie! It was one of the most epic and most fun races I've ever done. I will definitely be back next year! 2013 is definitely starting off awesome, and I can't wait to see all the fun yet to come.. Girl Fiend Cycling Team 2013! Thanks to my sweet hubby Jay who made this whole weekend possible.. I loved every moment of it!
Floating on fat bike dreams,