XC Race Season has finally arrived, my friends. Sunday, March 3rd kicked off the Maxxis Southern Classic Race Series for 2013 with the Killer 3 in Sumter, SC at Poinsett State Park. The new course, The Knot, is a 7 mile fast flowing single track loop consisting of short climbs, fast descents, twisty turns and a few super fast miles of gravel/sand fire road.
My TotalCyclist Mountain Bike Race teammates arrived the day before and were able to scope out the race course. I decided to drive down the morning of and was looking forward to the 2+ hour drive to calm my nerves. Pulling into the park, I glanced at my nifty outside temperature indicator and rolled my eyes…37 degrees. People who know me know that I detest cold temperatures (anything below 65 degrees). Still in denial that it was actually that cold outside, I shuffled over to registration.
I reluctantly started the long process of putting my ten thousand layers on…bibs, knee warmers, arm warmers, arm warmers (yes, that’s two), jersey, star socks (yay!), toe covers and everything else. I was about to start my warm up and noticed that I couldn’t feel my toes. I swapped out my toe covers for my sock booties, found my teammate and continued the frigid warm up. Even after a few sprints I couldn’t get warm, and my fingers and toes were still painfully cold. One last swap of foot gear into my mac daddy neoprene booties, and I was off to the start.
We waited for an eternity for our Cat 2 women’s group to be called to the start line. I was in an uncontrollable full body shivering state when we were finally told to go. I gave it my all and took the lead into the woods. Thanks, Mark Kane!!! All that Kane training has helped my starts tremendously!
I kept the lead as long as I could but had to allow a few ladies to pass since I had blown myself out too soon. I shocked myself at how well I was cornering and taking the turns. I struggled with it so much last season, but my TotalCyclist coach (Luke Sagur) had me work on this skill all winter. It was awesome to see it all come together that day. Thank you, Coach!
Sandy Marshall from Giordana-Clif Bar took the lead, and I hung on to the lead group. We stayed this way through the single track but Sandy was pretty far from the rest of us by the time we popped out onto the fire road. The remaining three of us swapped positions multiple times the entire way to the start/finish. I was first into the woods again for our second lap but lost the lead once more.
I started to feel it then…a little sluggishness coming. I had not been drinking my Infinit like I should have been…didn’t have a chance to even with a camelback on, so I took in as much as I could and waited. Somehow I fell back to fifth place, but then an angel fell from the sky in the form of a really large man on a bike barreling down the gravel. I jumped on his wheel and hung on for dear life, allowing myself to recover a bit in time for my third and final lap.
Slightly refreshed, I went (what felt like) as hard as I could for the last lap. It paid off because I saw fourth place just ahead of me. Luckily I had a few guys with me, so with all of us passing a good gap was made. We all stayed together for the remainder of the race, and I crossed the finish in fourth place. Not bad for the first race of the season.
Bonnie Kleffman also had an awesome day on the bike. She took the win after four laps in the Pro Women’s Category.
They say that luck happens when hard work meets opportunity. I’m looking forward to many more lucky moments for 2013. Thank you to all our sponsors: TotalCyclist, Kane Training, Bicycle Sport, Giordana, Infinit Nutrition, Meg-Art, Carolina Realty Advisors, OTR, ESI Grips