NMBS Deer Valley XC Report #2

June 21, 2007 · Print This Article

by Noel

Wow! I finally raced my mountain bike again and I was immediately reminded of how painful mountain bike racing is…all out, right from the gun!

Some of you may know that I had a rough season last year due to a knee injury. I had knee surgery in October and have worked hard to get the knee back in racing shape again. Until this weekend I’ve just been riding road and hitting a few road races like Gila, Tri Peaks, and the Iron Horse. After putting myself in a serious hole of exhaustion from work, school, training, travel, and racing leading up to the Iron Horse, I took a full SEVEN days completely off the bike and then decided it was finally time to start mountain bike riding again. So, I did two MTB rides over the last couple weeks, decided the knee was ready, and headed to Deer Valley for my first mountain bike race since the Brian Head NMBS race last summer.

It was wonderful to finally hook up with the team – to catch up with the girls from last year, to meet the girls new to the team this year, and to see Tim, the mechanic extraordinaire, again. I drove to Utah Friday and pre-rode the course that afternoon. Everything felt good and I was excited to race the next morning. However, I was also a little anxious to see how I would actually race since Friday’s pre-ride was only my 4th mountain bike ride since last September…yikes!

Well, it turns out that I did remember how to race my mountain bike and it was pretty darn fun, in that super sick sort of painful way. Out of almost sixty starters, I was called to the line 3rd to last since this was my first race of the year. I couldn’t even spot a couple of my fellow Bellas from the waaaaaaay back of the field. The race immediately sent us up about a ½ mile fire road climb before hitting the singletrack, so I knew I needed to start strong and just hoped there would not be the usual back-of-the-field start line crash. The NMBS folks played their typical small collection of really bad tunes, shot the gun, and sent us off to ZZ Top’s “She’s got legs….and she knows how to use ‘em” – lovely. A couple of girls barely stayed upright, but amazingly there was no start-line crash and we were off. At the top of the climb a ½ mile later, I had managed to move up about 35 spots and was sitting in the low twenties – sweet! I was just bummed the climb wasn’t longer so I could have kept moving up.

Then the course sends you on almost seven solid miles of tight singletrack: super fast, tight, fun stuff, and also lots of switchback climbing singletrack. It really is an absolute blast, but once you do hit that singletrack, it’s pretty difficult to make a lot of passing progress from that point forward. So, I went back and forth with a few girls but maintained my position for the first lap. At the end of the first lap, I grabbed my gel flask, put it in my mouth to open it and get some nourishment, and I broke the top completely off in my mouth! This was not good since gel is the only thing I can eat in a MTB race and was, therefore, the only thing I brought with me! So, I ventured on to finish two more laps in the heat with no food – not the best situation to be in. I hit the second lap and climbed well again, passing a handful of riders. I maintained good position again throughout the second lap, but was definitely feeling the heat and lack of food. All I could think about was that Coke feed waiting for me at the start of the 3rd lap. Let me tell you, that ice cold Coke was the most heavenly thing I could have possibly had at that moment. And I drank the entire bottle up the climb that 3rd lap, which again left me with nothing to eat or drink for the remaining seven miles. Well, plain and simple, I just ran out of steam on the final lap and completely faded; my performance over the last 1/3 of the lap was downright sad. I lost about five or six spots and ended up in 27th. I must have looked pretty pathetic at the finish because a guy passing out giant cold Gatorades handed me one, then took it back, and said “here, let me open that for you”. I didn’t mind.

What a day. Mountain bike racing is tough. My legs hurt and I coughed up dust for a solid 24 hours afterwards. It was fun, though.

Huge congrats to the other VB-K racers! We managed to get a top ten finish in every single discipline in the Pro field over the weekend…booyah!

~ Thanks to Kimber for arranging all of our host housing!
~ Thanks to the Robinsons for hosting Kristin and I and for all the puppy love from Duncan!
~ Thanks to the Canfields for the fantastic post-race BBQ and for all the skeleton stories…you skeleton racers are crazy!
~ Thanks to Tim for taking such good care of SO MANY of us!
~ Thanks to the awesome VB-K downhill girls who cheered us on and then kicked butt in their own races!

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