We awoke on the Saturday morning to rain and heavy clouds. Even if the rain stopped we knew the trails were going to be a mess. The rain didn't stop. At the start, Robyn and I were not impressed by the prospects of the day's race.
Mel less than impressed
It's always a thrill going through the feed zone (AKA the power house party). The fire road climb is literally lined with supporters cheering and encouraging and the buzz is almost as good as a Gu for an instant energy burst. The energy boost is short lived though because soon enough you are on your own facing an hours climb on the infamous "Bonk Hill". Usually I take the hill climb as an opportunity to pass others. I should have known something was amiss when this didn't happen. I didn't exactly lose ground on the climb, but I didn't gain any spots either. By the top of the climb I was pretty spent, and during the descent down "Big Ring Rip" I started feeling the effects of the cold on my rain soaked body. By the end of the 20 minute fast descent I couldn't feel my hands and braking was hard. I was beginning to get a bit crampy in my legs and didn't feel particularly co-ordinated. This was not a good way to enter 'The Plunge" - the most technical portion of the race, that can be hard to clean in dry weather. Add in copious quantities of mud and you can have some tricky situations. I wasn't especially pleased with my performance, but at least I stayed on the bike (mostly.) Unlike a lot of other racers who chose to simply dismount and run. I shouted a lot to get them out of my way, but even so, I got held up here trying to pass.
Heading back into the feed zone I was 7 minutes off my target and knew I wasn't capable of making it back up on the next section through Crumpit Woods (AKA Crampit Woods.) I consoled myself with 'every one's going to be pulling worse times' and headed into Crumpit. I was still cold, and beginning to get a headache. I just wanted it to be over. But it just went on and on, seemingly never ending. I just wanted it to be over. Nothing left inside me, I added another 11 minutes to my time deficit and to rub salt into the wound got passed by another gal that I just couldn't stick with. If I'd had anything left I would have allowed her to lead into the finish and take her close to the line. Not even close!
I finished up in 3:48 - 18 mins off the time I wanted, and 9 minutes back on last year's time. I was covered in thick mud, had a raging headache and wandered around in a thick haze waiting for Chris to arrive to be able to change out of my wet clothes. The only consolation was that I did finish and it was good enough to get me an 8th place - right around mid pack. Not bad, but not good either.
The next day I felt like I'd been rolled down the mountain rather than I had ridden down. Pretty much everything hurt. I hadn't enjoyed the race and didn't feel pleased with my performance. So what am I going to do about it? Yep, you guessed it, go through it all again next year, in my sick quest to beat my personal best once again.
To be continued......