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Has Anyone Seen the Finish Line?

November 25, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Classic 2009 at Mae Simmons Park – Lubbock, Texas

Margie Nolen (Bicycle Sport Shop), Tommie Richardson (Bicycle Sport Shop), and Heather (our competition)

This race is part of the West Texas Mountain Bike Series… it’s a very low key race with a small town feel.   The race was very different than the TMBRA races that I’m used to… not many racers, maybe 50 or so, no map of the course, no marked start line, and no marked finish line… I couldn’t figure out where we were going to finish.  So I asked some of the guys what we were going to do, while we were lining up at the start line to race.   One guy said, “We ride the west loop once, and then the east loop twice and we finish over there pointing at the sign in table.”  Weird no marked finish line… oh well… I’m just looking to have some fun, so I’m not too worried,
Before the race, I looked at the previous times on the website and Cat 2 women times were coming in at just under 2 hours, so I’m mentally preparing myself for a pace I know I can handle for that long.  All the Cat 2 men and women start at the same time.  For the women, it’s just Tommie and I and our one competition, Heather, another Cat 2 woman.  At the start, Tommie takes off like a bat of hell with the faster guys… I’m just chugging along with an older guy behind me and Heather right in front.  About a minute into the race, Heather slides out on the loose dirt… I pass her and think… she’s not going to be able handle this course… it’s not that technical, but there’s a lot of loose dirt and gravel… I’ll be able to ditch her soon enough…

So now I’m in front, with the older guy behind me, and Heather behind him.  Up and down the rolling hills we go and Heather is still back there… dang it!  Then there were couple of tough, short climbs that I made, I figured she would dab… nope… she’s still hanging in there.  Now, I’m thinking, “Great, so much for the fun race, now I’m gonna have to work, can’t let this gal beat me, if she’s going to beat me, she’s going to have to earn it.”  About 15 minutes into the race, we’re with the wind through a fast, flat, and twisty section, so I gotta try to hammer (OK, OK hammer by my standards), so I put it in the big ring… no luck losing her.  Since, you can see a 100 yards of the course ahead, I watched some guys in front of me struggling up a short climb… sure enough the trail dipped us down and I knew I better get out of the big ring for the short, semi-steep climb, don’t want to dab with her behind me.  Then I finally thought, it’s still early, only 20 minutes into the race, just chill and ride your own race, there’s no one in front of you to mess you up.

We finish the west loop and we pass through the “finish line”, the table that is 5 yards off of the course, so I know we have to do 2 laps of the east loop, which we are racing backwards from how I’ve ridden it the few times in the past.  Shouldn’t be problem I thought, it’s more technical than the west loop we just raced, which should work to my advantage, and there’s no crazy drops or climbs from what I remember.  The trail is pretty loose, so there maybe a few sketchy downhills and some loose climbs that I may have to walk.  Better to be safe I think, gotta remember my #1 goal, stay upright on the bike!

We enter the east loop, and the older guy behind me asks to pass and he goes in front, with Heather still riding behind me.  Then, so much for my #1 goal, on a sketchy downhill, I jack-knifed my front wheel to the left… which sent my flopping over to my right.  Fortunately, I wasn’t going very fast.  Heather asked if I was OK and stopped, I told her I was fine.  I was mad because I figured she would get in front of me now.  For this section of the trail, there’s a lot of mesquite on both sides of the trail, so it’s hard to pass.  Well, she must be very nice or not experienced, because she didn’t pass me (I would have), she waited a few seconds for me to get going on the bike.  So, off we go again, with me in front and her behind.   Not much after that, I dabbed a climb.  She had a chance to pass me while I was walking my bike and she didn’t.  I guess she just doesn’t know that if she wants to pass, she’s gotta jump in front of me.  Then, the trail opened up to a double wide and she passed.  I figured, she had “toyed” with me enough, and she would just pass me and I wouldn’t be able to keep up.  Well, we keep riding and I’m still with her, neither of us could gain anything on the other, we both could climb and we were both a little tentative on the sketchy downhills.  Then, the trail flattened out to fast and twisty and since she was now in front, I took the opportunity to eat some much needed shot bloks.  We were 40 minutes into the race and I figured we had another 50 minutes to an hour to go.  Since I lost a little ground to her slowing down to get my shot blocks, I had to catch back up.  It was at this point that I figured out that I was faster than her on the flat, fast and twisty, because I was catching back up with her… go figure, I thought that was one of my weaknesses.

So we ride together for another 10 minutes or so and she pulls over to let me pass.  WHAT???  I didn’t get it, but I’m not about to stop ask questions, so I pass and now she’s behind me and I’m slowly losing her.  I thought, here’s the time to get her, it’s still flat and twisty, so I put it in the big ring and hoped that there wouldn’t be a sudden climb.  I had just ridden my singlespeed earlier that week and it finally hit me… ride in the big ring like your singlespeed… stand up if you’re losing speed rather than lowering the gear and then get back in the saddle once you can carry the momentum.  I came up to the finish line and still had one more east lap to go and I didn’t see her.  I also realized that we were only an hour into the race and I had saved too much energy, so I could do a faster second lap.  I couldn’t figure out what happened to her, she didn’t seem like she was tired.  Not much after, I caught up with the older guy and passed him on a climb he didn’t make.  Since, I lost my real competition Heather, I figured I would use this guy as my competition now.  We rode a short ways and then there was a long climb on a double wide that I didn’t like the first time I climbed it.  So I had to hammer up it to try and lose him, mission accomplished, I wouldn’t see him again till after the race.

I rode the rest of the race by myself and I tried to stay focused and continue to hammer on the flats in my big ring.  I felt great and I was looking forward to the finish.  I came up to finish line with Tommie taking pics of me.  Apparently she had plenty of time to go to the car, grab the camera and her recovery drink, and get back to the finish line.  Short race, I finished in about 1:30 with still too much left in me, but I didn’t know the course and I thought it be closer to 2 hours.  Tommie was happy to see that I finished before the other gal.  She said she could see her in front of me off and on during the race.  After over 10 minutes of waiting for her to cross the finish line, we finally saw her walking her bike toward the finish line.  She had gotten a flat after I had passed her.  I was bummed, it would have been a lot more entertaining had we been able to continue our battle.  She must have fixed it, rode for awhile, and then it must have gone flat again.  I’ve gotta hand it to her though, she walked her bike all the way to finish line and didn’t DNF.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. kristi permalink
    December 2, 2009 10:22 pm

    Great race report 🙂

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  1. Texas Bicycling Blog and News Roundup for November 26th « Texbiker.net

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