November…a time to celebrate Thanksgiving, enjoy the fall weather, get ready for the holiday season, and RACE! The season finale of Non-Dot Adventures’ OC Classic was held November 12th at Caspers Wilderness Park. It was the last of four races of the series, and I was fortunate this year to be able to race in all of them. Each race has it’s own unique challenges and atmosphere, and Casper’s to me is one of the most beautiful but also very challenging mentally. While not especially technical, the long steady climbs along the ridge and all out pedaling sprints in the canyon makes my legs and lungs scream “stop!!” Knowing that I have to repeat three times makes it even harder! All the while though I am surrounded by the gorgeous scenery and the awesome crowd. Pedaling through the old corral each lap and hearing those cheers and cowbells always gives me a boost!
The weather was absolutely perfect at the start/finish area, with a cool breeze and sunny skies. There was a nice crowd gathered, all anticipating a strenuous but fun race, and looking to close out the season on a high note. It was great fun to reunite with my competitors and fellow racers after not seeing some of them since our last race in September. My class was well represented with our little group of Elite Women all making it out to race that day. My husband Peter was racing as well, in his competitive Super Sport class. After chatting a bit at the start line, our group was off! I had a strong start as I always tend to do, charging ahead and then wondering if I spent my energy too soon! As soon as we started up the two mile climb up to East Ridge though, my group caught me and we all battled up the trail. I spent most of the rest of the race wheel-to-wheel with my friend and fellow The Path Bike Shop team-mate Leslie. Every time one of us made a move, the other would match pace! We even joked while we were panting with exhaustion that we were gonna kill each other with our pacing! The second lap was the most challenging for both of us, by then our bodies were screaming and there was a strange lack of breeze up on the ridge which made for a very hot and exhausting climb. I was happy to meet my goal of clearing all of the climbs which was tricky with the loose and steep conditions. On the third and final lap after giving it all I could I was able to slowly sneak away and only by sprinting the ENTIRE length of the canyon trail did I secure a second place finish, behind the amazing powerhouse Kym, who closed out the series in first place.
At the finish line it was all hugs and dusty smiles, with congratulations to all of my fabulous competitors, especially Leslie who really pushed me with every pedal stroke all season long. It made for such a fun series to have such great competitors who have become friends, which is what racing is all about! After my race was done and I had cooled down a bit I found out Peter had finished third in his class, even with a dropped chain! I also discovered I had placed second in the series which was a nice surprise and, even better, that The Path Bike Shop as a team had placed 2nd in the team competition!
That’s a wrap for my XC season for The Path Bike Shop Race Team for 2016…It has been my first season racing at the Elite level and has been incredibly rewarding and challenging. I can’t wait to see what I can accomplish next year! I’d like to thank The Path Bike Shop for all of their support. I couldn’t have done it without them! It was so great to have them out supporting us at every race this season, always with a smile and often a cold drink and snacks too :) I also want to thank Non Dot Adventures, all the volunteers, support crew and spectators, my amazing competitors, and my husband and fellow crazy racer Peter! Looking forward to a new season next year with The Path Bike Shop crew!