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Tori’s Race Report: Windham Race the World 7/1/12

On Sunday July 1st I opened my mountain bike race season at Windham Mountain, NY in the Kenda’s Race the World Citizen Race. The idea is you climb up the slope as fast as you can and then try to keep it together enough to descend the technical sections as quickly as you can without crashing.  The technical sections are quite manageable (and really fun!) but when you are gasping for air after climbing for 15 minutes they require a bit more focus.  This event followed after the pro men and women raced in the UCI event the previous day.  It’s always so inspiring watching the people I usually read about on fly through the course just feet away.  The Luna women swept the podium in the women’s race with world champion Catharine Pendrel squeaking by America’s own Georgia Gould, who suffered a pinch flat in the final 50m, and Katerina Nash claiming third place.  In the men’s race Burry Stander for Specialized took 1st place, Sergio Montecon Gutierrez of Trek Pro Racing took 2nd and Marco Aurelio Fontana of Cannondale Factory Racing took 3rd.  Our two Olympic hopefuls, Todd Wells and Sam Schultz, placed in the top 10 showing much promise for the upcoming Olympics. Full results and a much better race recap can be found here .

My race began early in the morning which was a blessing since temperatures were supposed to soar into the high 90s.  In comparison to last year’s course which was wet and slick this year was dry and dusty. In some parts of the technical sections there were inches of fine, loose dust that you could carve through almost like snow but otherwise it was packed and hard.  The course conditions led into a fast race that would reward you for gaining speed without losing grip on the rocky sections. I did well last year in the Category 2 race so this year, as a Category 1 rider, I wanted to do all I could to stay near the front of the field.  I was going to ride as hard as I could and see how I stack up amidst the Cat 1 ladies. My wonderful husband, Karl, would provide race support at the top of the course, passing water bottles and showering me with ice water each time I pass. I would be doing 4 laps.

At the start of the race I jumped off the line with a group of 5 other girls, following Kathleen Lysakowski from Cycle Lodge as we passed a few ladies struggling on the steep climb.  From there on it was a game of cat and mouse between me and Cycle Lodge.  She was a better climber but I was faster on the technical sections. I tried to sit on her wheel the best I could and then surge to get ahead before entering the technical sections to open up a gap but she was able to come around on the climbs every time. I decided to just sit in with her and see how the race played out before I could make my next move.  I had just made a pass in the middle of a climb on the second lap when errant shifting threw my chain and jammed it in between my rear cassette and rear wheel. Cursing I leapt off the bike to tug at my chain.  A few seconds later Cycle Lodge came speeding up the hill.  More cursing.  I eventually freed my chain and resigned myself to the fact that now I had to chase.

I estimated that I was riding in about 4th or 5th place and decided I should catch Cycle Lodge to make this race a success.  However, as luck would have it, I came up the climb on the 3rd lap and Cycle Lodge was on the side of the trail having her own curse fest with her own jammed chain! I started to hammer to put as much space between us as possible while looking for the next rider up to catch and pass. But at the start of lap 4 I still hadn’t seen anyone in my field in front of me.  ‘Okay’ I tiredly thought ‘I will just finish this lap and then work harder to be faster next year’. At the top of the final climb I saw Karl smiling at me and yelling something about how fast I was riding and there was no one around me.  ‘He is so sweet’ I thought ‘What a great guy to come all this way and encourage me even when I am so far behind the leaders.’  I descended as fast as I could while staying in control of the bike and meet Karl at the finish line, who is again all smiles.  I don’t understand why he is smiling.  I pull up to him and doggedly say “I just couldn’t go any faster.  I need to be faster”.  Karl blinks a few times in puzzlement and says “I think you went fast enough. You won!” I didn’t believe him at first but apparently on lap 1, Cycle Lodge and I passed the entire field.  I still wasn’t convinced of my finish until they called me up for the podium. Apparently field awareness is something I need to work on.

Needless to say I am very pleased with my result.  My next mountain bike race is Bulldog Rump on July 15th inKittatinny State Park,New Jersey. This will be a tough race. A lot of great riders compete every year.  I have had a good track record there so I am hopeful for a good result. I suppose I will just go as hard as I can and wait to see if the podium calls my name.  It worked last time.


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