Monday, July 25, 2011

National Championship, Sun Valley, Idaho

It was the weekend of a lifetime, one I will never forget...

Rewind... A week and a half before the race I shipped my bike to Salt Lake City, to this fancy shop. I was pumped, I talked to the owner who was so kind and planned to build my bike and have it ready upon my Thursday arrival. The plan was to take my tent, pick up my bike and drive from Salt Lake to Sun Valley, a little 5 hour drive similar to our frequent journeys to southern Vermont. Sometimes things don't go as planned.

The day before I was set to fly out, I learned my bike was on a truck "somewhere in Illinois". I couldn't believe it, I had no idea what to ride for the race. So, I consulted SLC Bike Company again and they were willing to have a bike ready for me to race. It was a size smaller, but it was a bike and they were incredibly generous in their offer. After our Wednesday group ride, I sent out a Facebook message to ask our (awesome) biking community for any possible connections in Utah or Idaho. It was my last plea and attempt to get a bike that might fit better for my most important race to date. The response was tremendous and overwhelming. Within 10 minutes I had emails, messages and phone calls from friends old and new who wanted to help. It honestly gives me the chills. We are so lucky to be a part of such an incredible community of cyclists.

Ali and Mark Flis who I had only met once offered to take me in, give me a place to crash in Salt Lake, and fit me on Ali's Cannondale Flash. Again, I was overwhelmed and so grateful for their willingness to help me, someone they barely knew! We quickly became friends, and I can't wait to see them again. What an awesome couple.

Once in Sun Valley I pre rode the course and called Carolyn who so kindly offered me a place to stay with her friends from Utah. They took me in and I felt instantly at home. Such a great group of people! It was so great to spend that time with them and especially with Carolyn. We all ate meals together, raced together and rode some of the beautiful, local trails the day after the race in Sun Valley. It was an amazing weekend, and I can't thank each of them enough for making it so memorable!

Driving to the race I talked with encouraging friends & family and most importantly my husband who believes in me 100%. I knew they were all praying for me and couldn't wait to see how I'd perform. I was more nervous and excited than I had ever been. My hands were shaking on the wheel. I got there, warmed up and got to the start line about ten minutes prior to the start. Once the call-ups started, it hit me. You are about to line up with (behind) :) the top professional female riders of our nation! The course was on a ski slope and started with ~1 mile climb, followed by a switch backed downhill and a rock garden or two before climbing again. We'd race 5 laps total.

Photo courtesy of Spoken Chain

Photo courtesy of Kyle Miller
Thanks to the advice of a new friend out there, I started off moderately, knowing I was not used to the elevation, and I needed to maintain a consistent pace and energy for all 5 climbs. 

I followed that plan and felt pretty good considering. I refused to get off my bike on the climbs, mainly so I could say I never got off my bike for the climbs. :) It was a small personal victory. On the 3rd lap I started to feel much more comfortable with the terrain. The west is such a different place with dusty switchbacks and exposure unlike anything you see on the east coast. I dropped my chain in the rock garden, and got a bit sick, but kept plugging along. I just wanted to finish without getting pulled or lapped. On the fifth lap I was so happy I was almost teary thinking about it. I met my goal... I finished the race, didn't get lapped and didn't get pulled like some of the other girls. The race is under my belt and it feels so good. I can't wait for next year (with Ron) already! 

The weekend came and went and Monday I was back in Salt Lake with Ali and Mark. It was great to see them after the weekend and catch up on all that happened. Monday morning I went out for a solo ride in Park City, UT before my 2:15pm flight. Chad from Ogden drew me a map, gave me directions and sent me on a great ride. I was so happy to get that in before flying out.

Park City, UT

Looking out to Park City, UT from the trail
Sometimes things don't go as planned, but they may turn out better than expected. I will never forget this weekend... truly, the trip of a lifetime.

Sun Valley, ID