August 10, 2007
When I found out that all of the people who I race my mountain bike against were moving up to the Expert category, I was disappointed. I was used to racing with them and thought that their move to Expert would leave me with no one to race against. I desperately wanted to continue racing with them, but the increase in distance was a little troubling and to race in Expert you also need to be 15, decision made then, I thought, as I am only 14 another year in the sport category. After consulting my coach however, who told me just to go for it; I decided that I would give it a try anyhow as I had beaten most of the guys in that category before.
My first race in the new category at Nathrop CO went quite well. The course was long but pretty flat. The heat, my bad allergies and a cold all played their part in making the race a tough one, I was happy it was over when I crossed the line, I was finally able to rest and breath again, but all in all I thought that this new distance wasn't that bad.
All of the following races would be at ski resorts, which meant a lot more technical climbing and descending. I approached the race at Crested Butte with the attitude of "how bad can this possibly be?" It didn't take me to long to find out the answer, the course was a roller coaster of long steep climbs, followed by equally challenging descents on a ten-mile loop that I was to ride twice.
The first lap went well, I stayed with the leader and was feeling good, I even began thinking that I might be able to win this if I rode smart. Passing under the finish line with one lap to go, the girls on my team, Durango DEVO, who had already raced were on the side lines cheering me on as I was just 30 seconds down on the leader which made proud, knowing that she was only able to get so little time on me in the decent. The beginning of the first climb was the turning point of my race, I began to get tired and as the climb grew steeper I grew more tired and ready for this long race to be over. A miserable, dusty hour later, it finally did, my thought this time round of racing expert turned to "why am I doing this, I must have been mental to want to sign up for expert".
June rolled on by the time July approached the excitement of the new Harry Potter book came and so did another race. This time in Snowmass CO. The course was hard, the bugs were bad, and the heat was horrible. The start of the race was a very steep fire road climb, meaning that this was going to be one of the few races that you needed to start in your granny gear.
My group was the last one out it was the hottest part of the day. As I completed my first long lap I began thinking of the 30 minute climb that lay ahead of me. A handful of peanuts passed to me from my dad in the feed zone were meant to be an easy way to get some important protein for the climb ahead, but, I couldn't have been more wrong. Shoving the peanuts into my mouth I quickly realized that I was puffing so bad that I couldn't swallow them. I waited for a respite in the climb to grab a sip of, which sort of worked but now I began choking on the peanuts. I decided there just to spit them out and get on with the race, without protein. A grueling hour later I was completely dead as i passed the finish line, my final thought were again of how bad my mental state must be to want to race the Expert class.
After having some time to rest and contemplating my decision, I realized that since I am not trying to qualify for any major races this season, it would be a good thing to get the pain behind me so next year when I am stronger and actually in the Expert category I will already know what to expect.