After a smooth drive to the airport, I met up with some friends at the airport for an 'on the house' lunch and an easy flight down to Phoenix. After getting my $5/day rental car, Tim and I were headed to race site to register and meet up with Bryce and Pete who drove down in the van...or so we thought. Tim assured me we were going in the right direction but after driving 55 miles, we discovered that we had been going south instead of north the entire time. After a few curse words, I turned around, pinned it, and we made it to the site just in time to get registered and get the bikes into tech. Oh, the joys of traveling :)
Saturday morning came quickly and we were all super psyched to get our race on.
We met up with the normal crew, talked some trash, made fun of Ray's pumpkin gear, then hit the trails. The format was a little different than normal but still really fun. My only goal for this race was to stay clear of the cactus and luckily I was able to do just so. I started off the first test pretty slow while I got my rhythm but unfortunately followed a bunch of tracks that led me off course for several minutes. After finding the turn I missed because the sign had been knocked down, I knew I was already screwed for the day in terms of time so I decided to practice standing and looking ahead all day instead of trying racing as fast as I could. By the end of the day, my legs were smashed (something that never happens to me on my dirt bike) and I was cactus free. I was second by 1:20min so that was a bummer but I was in one piece. Bryce finished the day in 19th without any issues so we had smiles all around.
After enjoying some warm AZ sunshine and prepping the bikes for Sunday's race, we grabbed some Hungry Howie's pizza (my favorite) and hit up the hotel pool and hot tub! We had a fun group dinner at the Outback then hit the pillows and slept like babies.
Since this was the first race of the season for all the Colorado folk, almost everyone we knew was super sore and tired on Sunday morning. Bryce normally thrives on the 2nd day of multiple day events so he was really jazzed and ready to go. I actually felt the same way too and was really looking forward to ripping it up and getting the W in the women's class :) My two goals for the day were to stay clear of the cactus and not miss any turns. After the first test, I was feeling good, riding strong and excited about the day. Unfortunately, the second test is where it all fell apart. There were a few younger riders on the rows in front of me and several really steep and technical hill climbs on that test. As I was going up one of the hills, one of the kids crashed right in front of me and I had two choices - run him over or bail and hope for the best. Those that know me well would have thought I would have chosen the first option but I didn't. I bailed and fell right into a cactus. I tried pulling as many of the needles as I could out on the trail but most of them had broken under the skin beneath my glove leaving my arm and hand stinging like crazy. I also had a few needles in my butt which another rider had to pull out with a pair of pliers on the trail...imagine that site! As painful as it was to continue, I did. I figured the faster I rode, the faster I could finish and ended up getting the win I was looking for. There were a lot of incorrect scores for the other classes so we still don't know Bryce's actual placing but he finished strong and in one piece. My hand/arm are an absolute disaster and my flight home was beyond miserable as there are several cactus needles in my arm hitting multiple nerves. Stay tuned for updates on another post.