Monday, May 10, 2010

...and then the monsoons came. SERC #5

Mother Nature is out to get us. That is all I can think of. She taunts us with beautiful week days and then unleashes all her fury in time for the weekend. It's getting old. My poor Trek Top Fuel WSD 9.8 (which is world's most awesome bike!!!) has been put to the test. She needs more lovin' after this weekend. My bike has performed flawlessly these past few muddy races, but even the best bikes needs a bunch of maintenance and replacement parts after the things we keep putting them through. Fortunately we've got the best mechanics, Mike, Taylor and Zach, at the Trek Store of Chattanooga to keep us rolling. Thanks guys!!!

For anyone who has had any contact with the outside world this past weekend you know that parts of Tennessee got more than a foot of rain in less than 24 hours. Nashville, Memphis and everywhere in between are flooded. Our thoughts are with all the people that are dealing with the floods.

We were in Huntsville, AL this past weekend to race SERC #5 at Monte Sano State Park. We were on the edge of the horrendous weather and spent most of the weekend battling 30+ mph winds and hoping the rain and hail would hold off. All in all we lucked out. It was not what I would describe as a "pleasant" weekend to be outside but it could have been so much worse. We very easily could have had to race canoes instead of bicycles.

Monte Sano is one of the best race courses I have raced in a long time. Not that I don't love all the trails we race, but this was a RACE course. It was fast, technical, had some climbs and even a bit of pavement. It was well designed and had a little of everything. It was a true test of skill and fitness. I loved it!! Anina, Emily, Mark and I got there early Saturday in an attempt to beat the rain for a pre-ride. I was immediately hooked. I hadn't ridden at Monte Sano in years and it was even more fun than I remembered. Catherine and Amanda rode it a little later in the day.

Saturday night was so much FUN. We got to have a birthday celebration for Anina. Her birthday was Friday so we of course had to have cake and ice cream. It was so awesome to see the look of suprise on her face when we came in with the cake. Girl, I hope you had a great birthday!!!

Sunday we awoke to the news of floods in Nashville and Memphis and the weather was headed towards us. It was going to be interesting. We arrived at the race and it was really windy (still about 30mph steady with gusts stronger than that); we determined that in the spirit of safetly and equipment preservation we were not going to set up our team tent and banners. I apologize to all of our sponsors but I think the stuff would have ended up in central Georgia before the race was over.

The women's field was given the choice of two or three laps for the race. Two laps was going to be short, but with the weather being what it was, we opted for short and sweet. The field was smaller than we were used to, only about 10 of us. People apparently stayed home when they saw the weather report. They said "go" and it was the same game that had played out the last few races. Anina and I were off the front. I really enjoy having a teammate that pushes me. We are both better riders because the other one is there. She really pushed me at the start of this race. We actually ended up drag racing down one section of trail before the technical singletrack. I completely threw an elbow at one point (totally did NOT mean to... I am really sorry) and she threw one right back!!! It was funny, we had a good laugh after the race over it.

FYI: I will drag race anyone down the trail but I am not one to ever BLOCK another rider from passing, especially a teammate. If we are ever in a position where any of my teammates (or any rider) has better legs than I do I will gladly let them pass. That is just good sportsmanship and I try my best at all times to practice it. That was not the case with our little drag race. We both had good legs and wanted that trail.

We hit the trail and were passing the guys that started ahead of us fairly quickly. We hit a rocky descent and Anina was suddenly gone. I found out later that she had crashed. Damn. Fortunately both her and bike were okay and she was rolling again quickly. There was $100 for the fastest lap of the day so I was rolling pretty hard for that first lap. Lap two was a bit more on auto-pilot. I settled into a comfortable pace and really enjoyed the trail. My poor bike was telling me it is time for a tune up, I dropped my chain a couple of times and had to stop and fix it. I guess all the abuse is starting to take it's toll. Even so, my bike was fabulous on the rocky trail. It rode like a dream. I was so glad I had the incredible suspension that my Top Fuel WSD offers. I used every bit of it today.  I rolled in for the win and Anina was only about a minute and a half behind me. It was good timing because the rain was just starting. We quickly changed and packed up the car as we waited for the others to finish. Emily rode in to a 5th place finish. Her best ride this year. GREAT JOB!!! Catherine tackled her demons and took a respectable 8th. Amanda had some flat tire issues and was forced to abandon the race.

The podium was WET. The storms we had been hearing about all weekend arrived with a vengence. It was UGLY. The biggest bonus to being on the top step of the podium wasn't the win or the money; it was the fact that I didn't get poured on as long and 2nd and 3rd did!!! I think we might have gotten a picture or two but I am not sure. I will post them soon if we did. It was so wet no one's cameras wanted to work.

The drive home was awful and the lightening and thunder made me even more thankful for the timing of our finish.

This week is "bike rebuild week". More adventures to come soon...