Finally, after weeks of preparation the Alterra race was here. During the night it had poured outside my bedroom window through the entire night and I was thinking they were going to call off the race. Marty and Greg both had a discussion about alternate routes and or cancellation if the rain was heavy the day before. The phone rang at 5:30 AM for Captain to wake up. The guys arrived at the course at 6:00 AM while I slept in to 7:00AM. I got a call from Captain that the Alpha trail will not be used, parts of it were under water. They were walking down around Kevin's heaven when I spoke to him and he said it was a bit tacky, wet in a few spots. I hung up the phone and relaxed while drinking my Alterra French Roast Coffee and watching the news. I thought to myself, I prepared for the extra length of the alpha trail for today but now it will be like a Wednesday night race, no problem. I was just ready to leave and Sonia called asking about trail conditions. Never once did I think that I would need mud tires since my Specialized SWORKS Fast Track tires did the job for the last few muddy races.
I got to the course, took pictures of peeps and props and got ready to race. I tried to make mental notes of the start hill and the cap since the conditions are now muddy. While doing the warm up I headed down towards 76 th street and saw hand fulls of Citizen racers stopping and pulling off mud from their bikes. I rode up near the gravel driveway that breaks into the top cap and it was like pudding and my bike got it's first dose of the medicine to come. I looked at the racers again thinking this is going to be hell. Then just before the race, I run into Marty and he tells me to be sure to stay clear of the grassy section on the cap because many racers are recking their derailleurs. I thought Great, what more could I ask for nice thick soupy mud, possibility of wrecking my new bike and or killing myself in the process. Well I am always up for a good challenge and the weather was actually superb for racing since many times the Alterra race has brought sweltering heat to the near 100's with full bright sun just baking you on the climbs.
We lined up at the start and we were off. I got to the top of the climb about where I thought I would be and started to get into action and all of a sudden my bike felt like a fish out of water. So I slowed a bit trying to not wipe out. Once we made the left turn to the field that was it, back tire was ready to slide out from me if I even dare to pick up my pace. Near misses here and there, slowly falling back and back and back, it was humiliating. Thanks to Gretchen and her support at the start, she seemed to make it more fun to hang in there at the start of the race. Off in the distance I saw some of my Peeps slicing through the mud. The only thing I thought to myself at that point is they got some kick ass skill to get through this stuff. It only got better, once we got near Kevin's Heaven to bypass it, their was a pot of soup waiting for us all the way to the gravel road. Finally got out on the road ready to make up some time only to be confronted with more greasy, rooty muddy conditions that made me shake my head knowing how well I know this course and now it is making a shame out of me today. Lap one and most of two was an endurance pace and then trying to make up time on climbs from Crater's of the Moon through the start hill. It seemed I would pass others on the dry sections only to be passed by them again in the mud, it was frustrating but by now it was more fun because everyone else was dealing with it and I think we all pulled for each other in some way with cheers of support to keep going. I think Colleen and I went back and forth for ever and she really did well in the mud and put me to shame. It was also nice to see Greisbach back out on the course and she sure picked a good one.
Finally, after numerous peeps telling me my place on the third lap it gave me encouragement to step it up and I caught up to Sonia on the final climb to the switch back trying to take the advantage of the downhill and into the final single track. Once heading out of the single track it was off to the finish. I continued on suffering this final climb. I hear Sonia say, "Christine your are going the wrong way" again I had to turn around and back track since there was a huge gully and the flagged fence in my way. I saw Sonia climbing towards the finish and tried to catch her. I was dying by now and I caught up to her thanking her for saving me back there. We rode up to the finish together.
I heard cheers from so many my entire race and I appreciate it and thank you all! My helmet goes off to the lead ladies on Sunday, Claire, Amelia, Megatron and SS Amy what an incredible job you gals did at the start all the way to the finish! That's true mountain bike racing at it's finest!