Sunday, July 19, 2009

Race Report: Buckwallow (O-Cup 5)

Buckwallow is my favourite race course. As I mentioned earlier I was worried that I wouldn't be able to enjoy it to its fullest due to a nasty weather forecast, but with Nancy back at her rain-dance post, all was well and the weather stayed perfect for racing. The course was mint-y fresh, with just enough moisture to keep the dust down and the trails tacky. I was stoked all morning -- couldn't WAIT to get on it.

It's been a long time since I last raced an Ocup, so the usual preparations of packing and kitting up kind of sat funny and I couldn't tell if I was nervous or excited. I decided to do an extra long warm up to settle down. Rolled up to the start line and found ten chatty, excited ladies in my start pen. We shared a few pleasantries and then it was time to go!

I felt good, had good legs and the pace was totally manageable. I stayed near the front, made a few braking errors but kept on it and before I knew it, the first single track was just around the next corner. A little voice said "go" and I accelerated up the climb pushing past Emily Batty and Ashely Barson to take the hole-shot. Similar to Mansfield, my brain started screaming "holy shit, I'm in front!" I told that little voice to shut up because unlike Mansfield, Buck requires full concentration to keep from making mistakes.

And I didn't make any.

The entire first lap I rode completely clean, even greasing lines I hadn't yet nailed in preriding. I was so stoked. Emily was on my wheel and having the U23 National Champion and Canada Cup Leader behind you certainly does something for your concentration. I led for awhile, long enough to think I could maybe take a podium out of this if I kept it up, but then in the short "hilly" section I hit a bit of a wall and my punch disappeared. Emily and Ashely went by and by then, the men had started to catch up to us so there were a few more folks on the trails. I tried not to panic, regained my focus and put my energy back into my cranks. My first lap I finished a minute and change behind Emily and Ashely and when I came around (in third) Nancy and Jules were there to cheer me on!! That turned my frown upside down and I powered through the feedzone and lapped through.

The "Moose Mayhem" section of single track went really well and I still had great double track legs on the other side. But back in "Toad Twister" and "Show Time" something went wrong and I started making mistakes. I hit a tree, and the bike took most of the beating twisting my seat 90 degrees. I didn't notice because I was standing to get back up to speed but then I had to stop again to fix it. Once you lose momentum at Buck it's tough to get back into your groove and that cost me two positions.

My third lap I raced solid and steady but lap four I crashed again. By then, my legs were really complaining but I had some "last lap kick" -- that extra bit of push because the horses know they're headed back to the barn.

All in all, it was a great day. I knew I'd go home happy no matter what after such an exciting first lap and with Jules and Nancy there to cheer me on, I couldn't help but feel like a star even halfway down the day's standings. I had serious thoughts that I could maybe podium but I guess it wasn't meant to be. If I'm honest with myself, I'd admit to checking-out a little bit this summer. It's been a long season for me and it's hard to keep coming back to the bike with all the other "life" stuff going on. Although I was a bit disappointed in the result after such an exciting start, I'm stoked to get back to work for my last two races: Mountainview in Midland and Provincial Championships at Kelso.

I ended up finishing in 6th, collecting 5th place points because third place was from BC, putting me 7th place in the overall ranking. Thanks to Tara for keeping me company on the drive and being such an expert feeder. Thanks again to Jules and Nancy for leading the cheering section. And of course, thanks to Sweet Pete's for keeping me rolling.

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