|The Spouse...not a professional photographer...|
The Border Crossing, which is held across the St. Croix in River Falls, Wisconsin, has always been a bit of a contradiction for me. Whitetail Ridge is one of my favorite mountain biking courses – beautiful wooded single track and a downhill flow course that leaves you breathless. Because of all that single track (and lack of significant climbs), it is also a course that I don’t generally do very well on. The race always brings out the KORK women who can rail every corner, and last year I remember watching them disappear early in the first lap.
So this year I was ready in two ways. First, I expected to do poorly – which may seem like a strange attitude to carry into a competition, but really does help me keep calm. Second, I had a plan: hang on for dear life in the single track and follow as many lines as I could. This is as complicated a plan for a mountain bike race as I am capable of.
And it kept me in it for the first lap of two, hey, not bad! What I figured out in that lap is that I can get much more aggressive with my 29er. I am too static in corners, and could attack them more if I leaned both bike and body. The nice thing is that I was able to keep up on the downhill sections and even gain a little on the (too short) uphill stuff to limit the damage from the single track. It didn’t keep me ahead, but it did keep me in contact.
The second lap was more about trying to rail the corners when I didn’t have a line to follow. It is amazing how someone who is only 30 seconds ahead of you in a mountain bike race might as well be ten minutes ahead – out of sight, out of mind. Still, I held off two women who were trying to reel me in (for some reason I was always aware of their presence, though I couldn’t find the woman I was chasing). End result: 6th out of 23, 3rd in my age category.
I’m getting to the end of the mountain bike season – two races to go – and that is ok with me. I always seem to get a bit tired of racing by August. Sometimes I just want to go out and have fun on my bike…after the next two weekends of races…