This past Saturday was the Winter Park Cross Country Loop MTB race. Since we are only 90min from the mountain, we decided to head up early that morning in the Gas Gas Sprinter van with Cole and Emily who were visiting from Texas! It was a 10am start and the weather was absolutely PERFECT so everyone was ready to rock and roll. The course was originally supposed to be 25 miles but since the excessive snowfall has yet to completely melt, we were told that the loop was only 18 miles at the start of the race. Ready, set, go...
Like always, it was a mad sprint off the line. The first mile was a 9% climb on a fire road which just plain hurts and sets the tone for the rest of the race. Luckily, I was able to position myself well going into the singletrack and put myself in a great position going into what I thought were the last few miles of the race. I pushed as hard as I could to stay in front of a few girls during mile 17 but when mile 18 came and there was no finish line, I began to panic. I pushed even harder thinking that maybe my watch was off but I soon saw miles 20 and 21 and there was no finish line in sight. I was running on pure fumes and at this point we just kept climbing and climbing. At mile 22 we ducked into some tight singletrack where I absolutely cracked. I was seeing stars, bouncing my handlebars off trees and eventually just had to stop. I got off my bike for a quick minute and watched my 5th place go to 9th in a blink of an eye.
I managed to make my way the last 2 miles back to the bottom but it wasn't pretty and the ground never felt so good after crossing that finish line. Had the race been a mere 18 miles like we were told, I would have been thrilled with my race as that was the distance I paced and fed myself for. However, everyone else had to deal with extra 5 miles so I guess it doesn't really matter. I'm a bit bummed out as I was well ahead of all 5 girls that passed me at the last race but oh well, there's always next time!
My prettier half, on the other hand, had a spectacular race and finished 2nd in his age group in the Expert class while our good friend Cole took the top podium spot in his class :)
There's nothing better than spending a weekend with your favorite person in the world and great friends.
Big thanks to Cole and Emily for coming up, racing, hanging and having lots of good laughs for the week. We'll definitely have to do it again!