So this past weekend was one of my favorite race weekends of the season. Scott couldn't make the trip but I was lucky to have a good friend (Kendra) offer to come along for the road trip. We left Thursday morning and arrived at my sponsors house (T6 Brent) in Minneapolis by dinner time.
The next day we drove around the city a bit. I really like Minneapolis and always wish that I could spend more time checking it out. I guess it's a good excuse to go back and do another race!
Kendra and I went to pick up some race snacks and things quickly got out of hand. Mental note...never go grocery shopping at lunch time. We kind of lost control with the free samples of cheese :-)
hydrapak that I would switch out on every lap, a soft flask filled with Gu, and half a banana on stand-by...
Then it was time to hop back in the car and continue on with the road trip. We arrived at the race venue Friday evening and I spun my legs out with Brent on some of the singletrack. I had no clue how awesome it was going to be. Amazing. And the views were awesome too. At the top of every climb you could see a lake. I loved it and couldn't wait to race.
The race was four 24-mile loops so we set up the T6 tent right on course...
The start was probably one of the most neutral starts I've ever seen. It was very dignified :-) We had a police escort us out of town and then we hit some grassy doubletrack. Then the pace got faster and the group started to split once we entered singletrack. Just when I found a good singletrack pace we dumped back out onto paved road. Little did I know that right around the corner was bumpy, soul-crushing, double-track.
The first lap was probably the hardest because I was like, "why won't this grassy part end?" It was definitely a really good workout, that's for sure. And right after the doubletrack we were rewarded with the best singletrack.
Lap 1 was over before I knew it. Kendra handed me my hydrapak and I was heading out for more.
Lap 2 was the hardest mentally and physically because I did most of the lap alone and knew that I still had 2 more laps to go.
Lap 3 was the lap where I started to feel really, really good. I found my endurance pace and started to pass some of the guys in front of me. Towards the end of the lap I realized that I was really close to doing a 2-hour lap and decided to push the pace even more.
This is when things went BAD!
With less then a mile of singletrack left I took a downhill turn way too fast and landed on my head. My head actually bounced off the ground and I felt my nose shift. Owwwwww!!!! It took a moment for me to untangle myself from my bike and the guy that I had just passed caught back up to me. I think he was probably confused about how I could have turned into such a mess within a matter of minutes :-)
I was completely stunned and pretty sure that I had broken my nose. Plus my handlebars were at a 90-degree angle from where they were supposed to be. I can't remember anything about what this guy looks like but I will be forever grateful to him because he fixed my bike while I was in tears and told me that my nose didn't look too bad. It was extremely nice of him, especially because he was doing the 50-miler. He was only 2 miles away from the finish and a few guys passed him while he was helping me.
I got back on my bike and cried all the way back to the tent. Not only was I afraid that I had a broken nose, but I hit my head really hard. And the palm of my hand hurt so bad I could barely close it. I knew that I had to get in and out quickly because otherwise I would start crying in front of everyone. Some of the Twin Six Metal guys were already there and instantly started asking if I needed help with anything. My friend Kendra, Nicole and her mom were being super nice but I couldn't open my mouth. Anytime I wanted to talk a sob would just come out. I just grabbed my hydrapak and left.
Lap 4 ended up being A-Ok. I spent the first part worrying about all of my injuries. My nose was getting more swollen by the minute and a few people that I passed mentioned that I had blood on it. Eventually I started to forget about it and spent the rest of the race having fun on my bike. The Spearfish is made for races like this and I can't even begin to describe how awesome it was to race on.
My finish was something that I will never forget and certainly never be able to replicate. Most of the T6 teams had raced the 50-miler so both tents were completely full as I neared the finish line. The moment I came close to the tent cowbells started ringing and everyone started cheering. Just thinking about it makes me smile. Best...finish...ever.
Afterwards a few people mentioned that I should go to the hospital to get a septum put in my nose because it looked like it was broken. For a few moments I was freaked out but then I realized that they hadn't seen my nose before. It already had a bump and I'm pretty sure it was never straight to begin with. It was just really swollen and had a chunk of skin missing from the top :-)
I have to send a huge thanks to Twin Six and co. for inviting me to the race and making the weekend so much fun. From the moment we arrived it felt like we were family.
I also have to send a huge thanks to my friend Kendra for being such a great support person/travel buddy. My stomach still hurts from laughing so much.
I had to work at 5 a.m. the next day which was beyond brutal. Sleep deprivation is never a good thing and I was actually acting like I had a concussion. Today I feel much, much better though and I'm heading out for a nice endurance ride!
Next year I definitely plan on racing the Minnesota Rusty Ride again. I just hope that I can stay a few extra days and hang out! I'd like to do some more riding while I'm out there.
PS. I just realized that I never mentioned how I actually did in the race. I guess the whole weekend of adventures was so much fun that the result was just icing on the cake. I finished with a time of 8:28-ish and was 1st female and I think 5th out of the guys!!!