Friday, September 21, 2012

Stage 2 and 3-Crank the Shield race report

I figured I better finish my Crank the Shield race report before I start to forget the remaining stages. Yes I am blogging on a Friday night. Yes my life is super exciting :-)

Saturday: Stage 2

Stage 2 was the longest day. I think it was right around 80 km. I slept pretty well all things considering. And by all things considering I mean for being in a cabin with a bunch of people that I just met.

After a big breakfast I went back to the cabin to get my gear and nutrition ready. Our start wasn't until 10:30 a.m. It was nice not feeling completely rushed. We had to ride a few minutes out of the campground to the start and I used it for a warm-up. I didn't feel awful, but I certainly didn't feel great. All of my muscles were a little sore and my legs felt slightly heavy. To top it off my cycling shoes were still wet. And if anyone reading this is doing a stage race for the first time my biggest piece of advice is to bring two pairs of shoes if you have them. You can thank me later :-)

Just as we were lining up the sun disappeared and I was very happy that I chose to wear  glasses with a clear lens. The singletrack was pretty thick and it was dark under the trees.

Lining up in the middle of nowhere...
The promoter warned us repeatedly that we didn't have much room to position ourselves before the singletrack and he was right. My start was less then stellar which means I was stuck in the back of a slow moving train of racers. It was very frustrating. Especially since I couldn't seem to stay on my bike for the life of me. I kept spinning out or wiping out on wet roots. I was also more tired then I realized which didn't help things. However, when you are racing in the middle of nowhere there is nothing you can do but keep pedaling. Eventually I got somewhere.

Half-way through the race I started to feel better and the singletrack emptied out onto a long road section. It was a welcome break after the previous hour of me crashing into ravines. I had to work very, very hard on the road and remaining dirt miles to make up places but eventually I moved back into my position of 2nd in the under 40 class and 3rd overall. Phew!!!
We finished where we started and I was very happy to see the red banners fluttering in the wind. It felt like I was seeing a mirage...especially since it was in the middle of nowhere. I was very happy that other racers finished at the same time as me because I had to follow them back to camp. My lack of direction combined with being whacked out from the race would have resulted in the promoter having to send a search party out for me :-)

When I pulled into the parking lot Scott grabbed my bike and then told me that the promoter had subway sandwiches waiting for everyone. Awesome!!!!
The sun came back out after the race and the camp came alive. It was just like being at summer camp as a child, but with kegs of beer and much better food.

I was bound and determined to have dry shoes for day 3...I think everyone felt the same way!
After cleaning up I played a little miniature golf with Scott.  I was tired but I still managed to school him...yesss!
After dinner I went straight back to the cabin to get my gear and nutrition ready for the next day. My coach mentioned that recovery is super important for stage races and my legs were really starting to feel heavy. I figured that going to bed early was more important then going to the awards ceremony.

Sunday: Stage 3

Stage 3 started early in the morning and it was cold. Like frost cold. The actual race started at 9:30 a.m. but we had to do a neutral 10k ride to the start. I rode over with the rest of the Michigan crew and we were so bundled up it looked like we were going skiing. Scott drove over to the start and once the sun started shining we slowly started to de-layer. I felt tired...and seriously could have fallen asleep sitting up while waiting for the start.
zzzzzzzzzzzzz...trying to stay awake!
And then we were off! I lucked out at the start because we had an uphill climb for a while. I was able to get in a pretty good position from the get-go! And my legs felt waaaay better then I thought that they would...awesome!

After the gravel road we hit some singletrack and then climbed...and climbed...and climbed. By day 3 I was practically immune to climbing!
It was really, really cool. Lots of people were cheering us on and the weather ended up being beautiful! It was just one of those days where I was really happy to be on a bike despite being tired and sore.
I don't remember much else about stage 3 except enjoying it. Well, to be honest....there were a few miles of singletrack with super gnarly, wet roots and evil hike-a-bikes that I didn't enjoy but the rest was really awesome.

And as always, crossing the finish line was the best...
I ended up holding my position all 3 days. 2nd in the under 40 class, 3rd overall. 
Do you want to know what else rocked? Maybe even more so then crossing the finish line?? (Vegetarians please look away!!)

Seeing and smelling a bunch of meat on the grill!!!
I think I will remember the BBQ ribs at Crank the Shield forever...they tasted THAT good.
This was definitely one of my favorite races of the season.  Even though I didn't win I crossed the finish line each day with no regrets. I pushed myself all 3 days and rode out of my comfort zone a lot...especially when I was sliding out of control down hills with wet roots :-) I definitely feel like I'm a better rider for it and I learned a ton. Not only do I want to do more solo stage races, but I also think that it would be fun to do one with a teammate.

I have to send a huge thank you to my hubby Scott for being so supportive and awesome. It was great having someone to hand my bike to after each stage. I have to admit I feel a little guilty for beating him at miniature golf....actually, who am I kidding? I don't feel guilty at all.

I also need to thank Chico racing for putting on such a great event. I can't say enough good things about how the race was organized. I met a lot of awesome new people, I had a ton of fun, and I NEVER felt lost for a second. And that says a lot because we covered a lot of ground!

And that's a wrap on Crank the Shield! Time to start researching stage races for 2013!!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for posting.