Race Report by Brooke McFerren, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team. Photos: Called To Creation
So the 2017 race season has arrived! At least for me it has, and as a great opener to the season Non Dot Adventures puts on a time trial event at Whiting Ranch. However, I was a little hesitant about participating in this race this year. I suffered a bad fall in December that left me with a broken nose and serious neck pain, and followed that up with a nasty sinus infection. That combined with the unusually rainy weather left my training with something to be desired-as in non-existent! In addition, I was graduating from school the day before the race, so I wasn’t sure how prepared I’d be the morning after! But thankfully the last few weeks before the race my health came roaring back, daylight savings time gave me sunshine to train, and the weather cooperated. I was able to get some good training in and felt energized and excited by the time race day rolled around.
The Whiting Ranch Time Trial is a great event to kick off the year. As always the event was well attended and well organized by Non Dot Adventures. It was so fun to see everyone again in our little XC racing community, especially my fellow Elite Women competitors. Quite a few Path Bike Shop Race Team members were there racing and the support from the Path was fantastic (mmmmm doughnuts!!).
The morning started out foggy and cool but the sun came out quickly and the day turned into perfection. This race is unique in both it's format as a time trail and also it's challenge of heading RIGHT UP DREADED HILL. Our otherwise wonderful and lovely event organizers must have a sadistic streak in them as this year the start was literally a hundred yards or so from the daunting Dreaded. The key to the race is pacing the Dreaded climb and recovering quickly enough to charge the downhill sections. As an elite racer I started right away, number 11. After a short chat with my racing companions I realized my number was up and it was time for the suffering! I never ride Dreaded Hill any other time of year other than a week or so prior to this event…because I know it will never be easy and will always HURT! It was just as I remembered…about a third of the way up the hill I had serious thoughts of “why not just stop right now? Why keep going? Couldn’t I just quit?” running through my head. Only by telling myself every torturous turn of the cranks that I’m closer to the top and I never have to do this again was I able to keep going! After over 12 minutes of suffering the reward of flying downhill was all mine. I had relatively little traffic around me and had the luxury of being able to charge down Cactus without having to worry about passing or being passed. The rainy weather this year created a more challenging rocky climb out of the bottom of Cactus up to Vulture View that in my opinion was almost as hard as climbing Dreaded. Luckily I had pre-rode the course and knew the line up had changed somewhat. I was able to power up my chosen line and get to the top cleanly and quickly, setting a PR for myself. After that it’s all downhill and so much fun! One of the most fun finishes of any local race. I crossed the finish line with a rush of adrenaline and an exhausted smile on my face.
All in all, it turned out to be a very successful race for me. I finished second in my class, with my struggles climbing Dreaded being the reason that kept me off the top box. But considering my health issues at the beginning of the year I was so grateful to be able to even participate in this race! Now with this race complete I feel invigorated and inspired to continue on with my training, riding and racing for the Path Bike Shop in 2017! Next up, Sea Otter!! Here we go!