Anniston was the last weekend before the finals. It was our last chance to make up some points in the series; the finals cannot be dropped from your overall score so after this weekend, we would know exactly where everyone stood. Yikes. No pressure...
Catherine was already on her way to Nationals and Amanda is looking for a spot on the podium of the TN series so they were missing from our ranks. Shannon, Helen, Emily and I were there and ready to race.
The pre-ride was a bit rough, Helen had a run in with a tree in the first 5 minutes and injured her other hip (the first one is still recovering from Raccoon). At least she was now balanced in the pain department. I was fighting a cold/sinus infection and felt like crap... great. It is a really fun trail but it's demanding, not the right place to not be on your "A game". Shannon was all smiles and made us all remember why we loved our bikes. Thanks girl, I was dragging after the pre-ride.
Sunday morning was cool and overcast, a pleasant surprise for July. I actually had to put on arm warmers while we watched Helen's race. Her hip was killing her but she raced like a pro. She limited her losses and got in a good training ride to finish a respectable fourth. It was a great ride and left her solidly in third for the series. Congrats Helen, you have done us proud as our developmental rider this season.
The sun decided to come out for our race and it suddenly got HOT. I was feeling worse than the day before and told Mark I was worried about being able to finish. He gave me the pep talk and told me to just go ride my bike and have fun. They said "go" and I was not really ready for it. Anina went like a rocket and Shelly quickly passed her and was gone. I managed to rally the troops and go around Anina before the single track. I was hurting but somehow making myself go. I soon passed Shelly; she had a flat. Not really how I want to beat her, but I have been climbing better than her and we had a long climb near the end of the lap where I was hoping to get her anyway. I was in the lead. I tried my hardest to use my handling skills to my advantage, knowing that Anina climbs really well and the hill was coming. I figured if I could hold her off on the hill the first time through I could win. I buried myself until I thought I was going to puke as I climbed but I did it. I went on to win by 9 minutes!!!! Holy crap. I flew around that trail, even sick. Shannon came in fourth and Emily was 6th.
The best thing was that I am now leading the series by a decent margin; 9 points. Assuming that nothing catastrophic happens (never say never), I should be able to come out on top. I didn't think I was going to do it two months ago but slowly my form has come around and I have won three in a row and I have moved into the lead. Emily has probably had the most impressive season in the Pro/Expert field this year. She, as a 16 year old Expert, is battling for 3rd place overall. Emily, we are so proud of you!!!!
Whew. One more and then it is time to play until cross season. Of course "play" is done on race courses with numbers on, but it is still fun...
Thanks for reading.