After getting my bike looked over by Ted and a quick visit to Jason for some muscle work, Scott and I headed up to Manistee late Friday evening. Usually I hate arriving at race venues so late, but oh well. It's not like I didn't know what the course was like. This was my 8th Lumberjack after all!
I was barely asleep when my alarm started going off and before I knew it I was rolling over to the start with my friend Eddie O'dea. I remarked that I didn't remember the paved road being as long as it was, and Eddie said that it would go by really fast. What he didn't say was that it would go by really fast if you had GEARS.
My "plan" was to spin like crazy and try to stay with the main pack as long as possible. However, the moment Rick (race promoter) said "GO!" almost everyone flew by me like I wasn't moving. So much for my "plan!" I am convinced that the road we were on is the flattest road in the world. When I finally reached the trailhead there were so many racers in front of me that everyone was at a standstill waiting to enter the singletrack. This was the first time I've ever had this happen at Lumberjack. The "line" moved quickly though and I was pedaling again before I knew it. Phew!
The first lap was very congested, and there were a few times where I had to run a climb just because everyone in front of me came to a stop. However, I knew it was going to be like that and remained calm. There was nothing I could do but pass when I could. The course was the sandiest I had ever seen it. Since I was riding in a huge group of racers it felt like we were in a sand storm. I had just gotten contacts after months of going without (bike parts take priority over contacts) and I started to worry that I picked the wrong day to start wearing them again. Sand was everywhere! Ironically enough I rode some of the race with my eye doctor. I figured it was smart to try and stay with him just in case anything went wrong :-)
Before I knew it my first lap was done. I rolled through the pit area, grabbed a hydrapak from Scott and kept going. My second lap ended up being 5 minutes faster then my first since the field was more spread out. I tried to keep as much momentum going as possible so that I could clean the climbs, but there were a few that I still had to
Photo Credit: Jack Kunnen
When I came through the pit area again Scott mentioned that I had made up a lot of time on the third place female. I had no clue who was in front of me but tried to hammer. However I was starting to feel it. Temps had reached 88 degrees and I felt like my face was in an oven. Some of the hills that I had cleaned on the previous two laps had become to sandy for me to pedal through. I had to stand to make it up a few of them and my rear wheel would start to fishtail. Sand=momentum killer.
Even though this wasn't my fastest time, the race felt like it went by fast. There were only a few flat sections that seemed to last forever, but that's what you get when you race with only one gear. I had a blast and will definitely race SS again next year.
The last couple miles of the race were awesome. I was hot, ridiculously dirty and tired. Seeing the pit area through the trees and hearing voices from the pit area was a great feeling. We ended up having a singlespeed division after all and I crossed the finish line in first place with a time of 8:30:31. My time was also good enough that I was the fourth overall women.
Happy to be done!
My friend Carey still holds the SS record, and she had promised to ship me some of her famous gluten-free chocolate chip cookies if I could break it. Sadly I did not, but I will definitely try again next year. Better yet, maybe she can come back up to do the race, and just bring the cookies with her :-) Wait a minute, now that I think about it she always beats me when we race against each other. On second thought, just send the cookies Carey...ha ha!
It was definitely a great day on the bike and I'm really lucky to have such great sponsors supporting me. They make pedaling 100 miles with one gear a blast. I also have to give special thanks to my coach Andy Applegate for being so awesome, Jason for helping me get strong enough to do push-ups, (one) chin-ups and also keeping me healthy, and Ted for a perfectly working bike ALL OF THE TIME. And last but not least I want to thank my hubby for being my #1 pit crew member and for putting up with me. I get a
little lot psycho before races and he still comes along :-)
Now...it's time to recover...and then get really fast. I'm racing the State Games this weekend and right now my legs feel like they weigh 100 pounds each. Yikes!!!