Race Report - Border Crossing MTB

6:03 AM

A smile is always a good thing...
After skipping out on the last two races in the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series (a DNF and a DNS), I had to come back for race #7: The Border Crossing.  For this race the Minnesotans head over to River Falls, Wisconsin and White Tail Ridge – a beautifully twisty section of single track that runs through deep forest with the occasional corn field foray. 

White Tail Ridge is one of my favorite trails to ride because its great mix of intermediate level obstacles (small rock gardens, logs around or under 10-inches, etc.) are all well within my comfort zone.  Plus, it has a few amazing sections of well-designed downhill, including the best wooden berm I’ve ever ridden, that will have the wind screaming in your ears.

After some less-than-positive finishes in my previous series races, I was mainly looking to have fun.  For me, this means not risking much when the gun fires, keeping the pace well within myself, and planning for even splits.  It didn’t quite work out as planned – the opening hill had me placed just at the back of the top group of racers – so I quickly adjusted to those around me.  These were well-experienced women who knew how to drive their bikes better than me, “Just do what they do,” I told myself as we hit the single track. 

Wow!  There is nothing quite like the clinic you get when following some great mountain bikers!  Thankfully, I’m pretty familiar with the trail, or I never would have brought that much speed (or stayed off my brakes) into those turns.  We dove every corner, jumped every root, and pumped every bump in the trial for everything it would give.  My butt never touched my seat, as I stayed as dynamic as I could to keep up with the group. 

…And I stayed with the group, finished in glorious style, and won the day…

…Um, no…the gig was up when we hit the first open passing section.  I was ready with my big ring, but it turns out that just like in road racing I suck at hammering a sprint.  By the end of the meadow I was gapped off the main group with a smaller group of riders who also couldn’t hang with the sprint.  No problem, as there was plenty of time left for fun, so I went back to my original plan of even pacing.  Picked off about four guys in the last lap, lost one place to a rider with an awesome late-race charge, and finished strong with a smile on my face.  3rd in my age group, 7th of 14 women (wow, the very definition of mid-pack!)

Most important was that smile on my face.  Cyclocross season starts soon, and I really want to go into the season with a positive attitude.  Some recent breathing problems have had me wheezing my way through the summer, and while I haven’t quite got that all worked out yet, Sunday was a step in the right direction.    

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