Have you ever went to play baseball but only to forget your glove? That’s what showing up to a race and forgetting your legs feels like. You can still race, but it’s not very pretty. That’s how I felt at Ironhorse. I finished, it wasn’t pretty and I never want my legs to decide not to show up again.
|Not race course but definitely worth riding!|
I was abnormally nervous for the Ironhorse race, maybe more so than any other race I’ve done. I’m not sure it it was coming off a year of law school without a gauge of where I’m at, racing with the pros, or it only being 18 miles. Fortunately we were staying with some friends, and Bryan was racing the pro men’s category, which took off 1 minute before my race. I mainly just followed him around like a puppy the whole weekend in preparation of the race. He made me feel better when preriding the course the day before he reminded me that everyone would be suffering. After a lap on course and picking his brain some more we went and rode some other trail in Durango. Durango has an amazing trail system, we only scratched the surface so certainly worth a trip back. Because of the race we kept it short and only did an extra hour of riding off course.
The morning of the Ironhorse we woke up and went and did a lap on course, okay I did half a lap because my legs weren’t feeling great while Bryan finished a full one. I spun out a bit longer on the road hoping to start a spark in my legs but really wasn’t too worried about it at this point. I got back to the house, ate and put my legs up and then ate again.
|Following Bryan and Sully around|
Before leaving I changed into my kit, filled bottles and went through the schedule with Sully for feeds and then followed Bryan out of the house. The race starts on an uphill and is pavement for about 2-3 minutes before reaching the dirt. I followed Bryan up and down some hills to warm up to help get my heart rate up before the uphill start and then cruised around till the race and touched base with Sully again before the start.
|Back row is where it’s at|
The start was really uneventful, there were about 25 women and I started in the back. We started and immediately the pace was set pretty high, it’s mainly a race of who can get to the dirt first because after that the passing becomes very questionable. It was in the first few minutes, on the pavement that I realized my racing legs were not going to be with me. I got on the dirt climb and continued to turn the pedals over trying to inspire my legs to do anything, something, but there was no spark. I was hanging with a small group of girls and just trying to hold on with everything I had. There are two big climbs on the course and both on the first half of each lap. The one big issue I have with the race is the age group men started 3 minutes behind us. They caught our group on the second climb and immediately separated us out. The fast guys seem to know how to pass, realizing that a 1-2 second delay isn’t going to make or break them, in order to wait till it’s clear. It’s the guys who are midpack, and not all of them either, but those guys started making really sketchy passes and left me as the collateral. I would hear one guy go to pass and give him the go followed by, “me too”, “me too”, “me too” until I would be run off the trail. I got jostled like this more than I was comfortable with and finally lost it when one guy who passed me with no warning and not in a passible spot caused me to go off on the side of the trail. I asked him if he was serious in my most grown up voice, he told me I could use my words to tell him it wasn’t clear, so I used my words to call him an asshole. I immediately regretted it because he seemed like a huge jerk who wasn’t worth the sin. It’s the first time that I’ve actually lost my cool during a race and realized soon after that it wasn’t worth it. The thing that I’m sure he didn’t realize was that it wasn’t just him but the 12 guys in front of him who had the same mentality. I took a moment to regain my composure, and didn’t have another problem after that. As my friend Kara says, “it only takes one jerk to ruin the moment.”
The second half of the lap, is fast, with even some questionable descents. There is a loose baby rock decent that immediately turns into a sharp uphill and a few tree branches that could really ruin your day. I was the most nervous for the descents, but it’s the only place I was able to catch people and make up any time.
The one really cool feature this race has is that you go through a brewery in the middle of town right before the finish. It’s really fun, the crowd is cheering and yelling so loud and there is so much energy. Because of the transition from outside to inside it’s really hard to see anything inside the bar other than the light on the other end, so I would just go towards that and hope for the best. From there it’s a steep ramp off the back porch and back onto the race course. On the second lap I grabbed a beer hand up but immediately regretted it because it wasn’t tequila so dumped it out and continued on my way.
The final two laps were really uneventful on the third lap I caught up with one girl on the climb and I sat on her wheel for a while and then she sat on mine, then she started to pull away and I muscled up every reservoir inside of me to go with her and it worked, I went and then I immediately dropped off 7 seconds later.
I finished almost last, but that’s okay. I wrote my coach after the race saying that even though it wasn’t the result I was hoping for it was hard to complain having spent the previous two weeks riding with little rest and going into the race without fresh legs. I told him that I had followed Bryan (he finished 6th) around so didn’t think it was my nutrition/rest/hydration/warm-up or pre-ride but just that the legs were not there after all the riding we had done. He wrote back saying he could see I was fatigued from the training that I’ve been doing, and sometimes it needs to happen to get where you’re going.
I’m off this weekend and just doing a few rides this week in Boulder and then will be heading back to South Dakota. The next weekend I’ll be doing a 110 mile gravel grinder in Spearfish, and planning on bringing my legs to that one.
One thought on “To Get Where You’re Going”
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