Life is Good: The Finale
After watching the pro men’s and women’s races, we decided to walk through the vendors, hoping to score some good deals on products before heading back to Kelly Acres. As I was picking up some free mini luna bars, I noticed they had a flyer for a clinic at 5:30 that day with Georgia and Katerina. One of the local luna chix, saw me checking it out and asked if I was racing the next day. When I said yes, she explained they were running a clinic with 2 of the luna pros to help us get ready for the race. I thought about it, but I thought rest was probably better preparation, plus I had just done a luna chix clinic a couple weeks back.
As we continued through the expo, I kept thinking about the clinic. I asked Rich what he thought, and he said it sounds like a no brainer to me, how many times are you going to get an opportunity like this? I realized he was right, so I went back and signed up, hoping it wasn’t already full at this point. Now I just had to head back and get changed/grab my bike, so I could be ready in time. When I arrived, it was obvious that the turnout for the clinic was going to be pretty small. We had to wait for the junior and U23 women to finish their race before we could get on the course, so they started with a q&a. To my surprise, Georgia actually showed up, even after her devastating finish earlier that day (I had truly expected a swap to be made).
We were then broken out between Cat 1/2 and Cat 3/4 and were assigned a pro. I was excited that I ended up with Georgia, as I felt like I had a better connection with her from the q&a session. We began riding the course, and I couldn’t believe how loose the trails had gotten from the day before. For me, this made everything a lot more difficult, plus I think I was a little on the tired side which made my handling a little shaky. Georgia gave me some good pointers and feedback, and I was just glad to have seen the course in the current condition, as I would have been in for a rude awaking come race time otherwise. Overall, I was amazed at Georgia’s professionalism, especially in the wake of that day’s events. She was encouraging, yet honest, and I really got the feeling that she actually enjoyed & wanted to give back to newer riders, not just an obligation she had to do.
The plan was to grab a quick dinner, since the dinner had run late and Rich and Tracy’s race started at 8am. Unfortunately, the town of Windham is small and there aren’t many food options, so every restaurant was packed. We ended up getting a table quickly since we were willing to sit outdoors, but we weren’t so lucky with the service. It took us forever just to get water (& lemons!), and even longer to place our order. We were there at least three hours, so by the time the check finally came, I just took it directly inside, so we didn’t have to wait further. We rushed back, knowing a full night’s sleep was no longer an option.
Shortly after getting back, we heard Justin and realized they must be back from the hospital, so we had to do a quick check to see how Allison was doing. We were told she had a torn hamstring, was on crutches and needed to get an MRI done once she was back home and the swelling went down. I was really feeling bummed for her, especially after everything she has gone through this season. I wanted to yell, “can’t she catch a break!” to the universe.
The next morning we were up early and everyone was ready to race. Allison and I were manning the feed zone for Rich, Justin and Tracy, so I got a chance to talk more with her one on one. I don’t know if she feels the same way, but I really felt like I was talking to a good friend, not someone I had just met. The sun was blazin, but it was easy to forget, as I wasn’t standing there alone, but instead had someone to talk to throughout the race. I think everyone was happy with their results, and it was time for me to warmup for my race.
Start time for me was 10:15 (more like 10:30 by the time the women went off), so it was already VERY hot out. The entire first lap, I felt like I was overheating and began to see black spots in my vision. I told myself, I just had to make it through one more lap and then I could cool off. Luckily there were two young boys in the feed zone handing out cups of water, who asked as I came up if I wanted any. I said YES! They both grabbed a cup in each hand and proceeded to cover my entire head/neck/back with the water. I can honestly say I don’t remember feeling that refreshed before. With a new focus, I began to power up the climb.
The course was insanely crowded at this point, with over 300 riders out at this time. I stumbled through some of the technical sections and got passed from behind, but each time the pitch went up, I passed them back and more. I was really getting into a groove and then the descents hit. Everything was so loose that riders were going down left and right and because it was so packed, they were taking out 4,8,10 riders with them each time. My goal at this point just became survival, make it to the finish without crashing. I had a couple riders bump (and even plow) into me, but each time I managed to get a foot unclipped in time so I could stay upright.
The closer I got to the finish, it seemed the worse the crashing around me was getting. I hit Kabush falls and watched as at least 6 riders went down, 2 of which landed in the netting! I knew it was smooth sailing from here and I proceeded to shift into my big ring and power to the finish. I didn’t break into the corners like usual and instead shifted my weight, feeling like I was a “pro.” Unfortunately, this almost cost me a nasty crash, as I lost control and both feet came unclipped (talk about a scary feeling). Somehow I managed to save it, got both feet clipped back in and rode up the slight incline to the finish. At this point I went to take a sip from my camelbak and realized I had 0 water left, talk about timing…
After some lunch, we quickly packed up, and that is when it hit me this weekend was almost over. We paid our balance and said our goodbyes to Nancy and her husband, “hopefully we will get to see you again next year.” As we headed to the car, we luckily ran into Justin who was out disassembling their bikes. It was definitely bittersweet saying goodbye to him and Allison. I felt like we had the opportunity to meet two really incredible people that weekend, and I was thankful for that, but knowing they were heading back to CA (while we were going to CT) made things tough.
After what was probably a drawn out goodbye, we hit the road, and our wonderful weekend in Windham was officially over. Even though we went last year and had a good time, I still can’t believe what an awesome time we had this year. I want to thank everyone I met this weekend, you all taught me something; whether about racing, biking or just life in general. And for my those I knew well before the trip, thanks for joining me and making this such a great weekend!