I could tell you every little detail about my weekend at the CES Kamikaze Games last weekend at Mammoth Mountain, CA but I'll just share what you really want to hear about...my crashes and other problems that no one wants on race day.
Quick rundown: We arrived at Mammoth 3 days before my race day. Beginners and sport raced on Saturday while Expert and pros had to deal with race butterflies one more day. Sunday came and all I hoped for was smooth runs with no broken bones.
2 days before the race day: While taking some practice runs, my shifter decided to skip. Ex-Path employee Mike Riess at the Shimano tent, saved the day and tuned it up for me.
I have been dying to get some new riding shoes, but that cost money and I have races to pay for! So I've been holding out. What happens a day before the race? The ratchet on my shoe won't secure. I'd like to give a shout out to Roger from Kenda Tires for providing Gorilla Tape to hold it together.
Crash #1: Up on the chair lift I go for Stage 1, the most tech-heavy of them all. I take off and clear all the sections that everyone was worried about. So where do I crash, do you ask? In a big pit of sand. My right glove ends up off my hand, and looking back I should have just stuffed it in my pocket and kept going. Nope, I made sure to put it back on. I ended that stage with the 3rd best time of my class and a nice scrape on my leg.
Crash #2 and #3: A pedaling up I go for Stage 2. Five beeps and I'm off and hauling. Twenty seconds in comes a slight left turn, but my speed plus that famous Mammoth pumice keep me straight. Straight into a ditch my bike and I go. This time my bike takes the damage. My bars are sideways! I grab the front wheel and try to twist but no budge. So I have two options: 1) I can take out my multi tool and fix it or 2) use my adrenaline to punch my bars back into place. Hmmm...1 punch, 2 punch, 3 punches and I have movement. It wasn't perfect but it'll do. I hop back on my bike but I can immediately feel my bottle and bottle cage press up on my leg, and they're in my way. I had no time to try to fix this, I just lost almost 30 seconds boxing with my bars. I pedal through it till they completely disappear from my bike and my life. RIP cute orange cage and pink water bottle. You were good to me....kinda...untill you got in my way.
I'm close to the finish line with one last trail feature: elevator shaft, a spectator favorite. I come in hot, looking solid. I clear the hardest part, but tip over into the loose dirt. Hop back on the saddle and ski to the finish.
Crash #4: Up on the Gondola I go for Stage 3, the longest stage of them all. Man, was I was feeling great on this stage. It was hard to keep my eyes off the beautiful view of Mammoth lakes from the top, but I did my best and was able to catch two of my competitors halfway down. It wasn't until the end of Stage 3 where, of course, the spectators started to occupy the course where I took my 4th crash of the day. The last paved, dusty switchback eats my bike and I go up in quicksand. Covered with dust I pull it together within seconds. "You're almost there!'' a man screams. I exit to a wide open field with the finish line in sight.
Crash #5: One last trip up on the lift I go, and I am tired by this time. The crash itself doesn't scream excitement like the last 4, but there is a reason and I didn't realize what it was till I crossed the finish line for the final time that day. There was quite a bit of climbing in this race and my rear derailleur had AGAIN started to skip. At this point, I was too tired to care so I kept shifting over and over again. I knew my rear brake pads were gone by this stage as well. The whole rear end of my bike just didn't feel right. I had become a victim one last time to a sand pit, and like a kid at a playground I pouted with frustration in the pool of pumice then continued on my way.
Then I made it to the finish, I was done. Bones all intact and all my stages completed. I make it over to the my favorite tech Mike once again to see if he can take a look at my bike shifting that was off. Wanna see what he discovered? Me either but I had no choice. My rear axle had been coming undone (pictured, right) and the wheel was an inch from no longer being a part of my bike! Note to racers: If you feel like something isn't right on your bike during a race run...stop and check it out. I hate to admit that I work at a bike shop (and I am hoping that The Path Bike Shop techs don't read this) but it's in the past and I am alive.
Want some good news? I took 4th out of 11 racers in Expert Women class! I seriously couldn't have been more excited to see those results after going down so many times. I wanted to walk away from the race before it started and for good reason; it was really hard and I was going to fall. And I did. Now I would do it all over again...minus all the crashes.
Thanks to all my sponsors and support. The Path crew, Tani, Lou and my teammates who were by my side racing and helping me out!