I won the O2S SS title for a second year in a row, this year against four other women.
However, they were right; I did not deserve a preferred start this year. I thought if I were toward the front of the starters, I could tuck in and draft at the start of the race, which is a long stretch of paved road. I remembered getting passed last year, but I figured this year I could just try harder... that just wasn't the case. I spun out and watched what seemed like hundreds of racers pass me. A friend even tried to help me out by slowing so I could draft, but I just couldn't keep up. It was disheartening.
Note to self: SELF. Do NOT ride singlespeed in 2011. The prize money sounds good now, but you'll be left with a few bills and the suspicion that you should have rode it geared.
The rest of the race didn't go much better... or much worse, I guess. Head down, suffer, keep the pedals turning up the hills (I misstyped that 'hells', my real feelings showing through.). I can at least be sure that I couldn't have gone much faster or harder, because at the end I was delicately trying to avoid cramping in my quads, calf muscles and arms, strangely enough. That's what you get for not riding outside of races for something close to two months.
By the time I rolled in, I was so dirty. I would say it was in the top ten dirtiest I've ever been (made a top ten afterall!). There was a quarter mile section of the trail underwater- up to the bottom bracket through most of it. There was sand. There was mud. At one point I tried passing through a rutted muddy section and wound up skidding on my ass through the grass alongside the trail. Toward the end of the race I took a sandy section too fast and fell in that, too. I had a good base of fruit and spilled energy drink all over me, so the sand stuck on really well.
Maybe about a third into the race, I went feral. At one checkpoint at the top of a hill, the guy in front of me drank half of a Gatorade and threw it at the garbage. He missed and it fell out of the bag. My sights locked on and I scooped it up, unscrewed the cap and drank the rest, a little Gatorade sloshing out and down my chin. But it's cool; since it didn't go in the bag, it's not like I was drinking garbage, right? Right?
I was a consuming machine. I drank from my waterbottles, ate an entire goo packet without gagging over the consistency, drank water and energy mix from almost every aid station (well, I drank part of it. Part of it ended up all over my face.) and plucked food from station workers with deadly accuracy.
When I wasn't grabbing for energy, I was expending a hell of a lot of it. Even though I'm disappointed with my overall results, I was happy with my bike handling. I loved to see the 'Caution, Fast Descent' signs. During a low point of the race, I blew past a guy who was being, in my opinion, altogether too cautious. That made me feel a little better. I think I've definitely improved since last year's race.
Beyond the race, it was a great weekend. We left on Thursday night and intended to come back on Monday night, but I caught a ride back on Sunday night so I could get back at the catalog at work. We went swimming several times in the stream...
12 pack down to the river, a few hours of sun and swimming, and 12 empty cans back up. That's how you life the High Life.
I had to soak them for a good long while, but eventually the dirt leggings came off.
And to round out the photos from this weekend, a shot of the Sarlacc pit toward the end of the race. Luckily when I fell in the sand, I wasn't trapped, to be digested over a thousand years.
P.S. Ask Cale about being covered in leeches.