Kris races for a shop called Cyclepath here in Portland and when we got home she called them up and they had the built the perfect bike for me. It weighs no more than 23 pounds and fits my body and my personality like a glove complete with the etched flowers in the disc brakes and the handles. Also the faint pink bolts and stripes added the feminine touch to this gravel crushing machine. Okay, do you think I love my bike? The next question is....can I ride the bike? It's been since the late 80's when I last road a mountain bike but I jumped in with both feet. It's all really funny because I know NOTHING about bikes and even when it came time to add pedals they brought out all these clip in types and I looked at them like they were nuts! I need normal pedals.....you're going to put normal pedals on this bike???? You bet....but I promise I will put REAL pedals in as soon as I figure out how to ride it. :) So.......that was Saturday and my first race was Monday night. Kris tells me I need to come do the short track mountain bike races they hold on Monday night. She said there are all kinds of categories from kids to pro and I could easily do the beginner ride and in her words, "Just check it out". We gather up the whole family and head out. Alex was going to do the juniors while Bill and I did the beginner. Me on my new killer bike and Bill on his 20 year old Costco bike. We arrive and all I see is a sea of jerseys. You know the folks all decked out in their sponsored outfits knowing exactly what they are doing. Meanwhile we have no idea what we are doing but when I saw the track we were going to ride I almost turned around and ran (not rode) back to the car. But.....Kris spotted us right away (don't know why we looked like we fit right in....NOT) and yells, "Bill, Ronda, Alex over here"! We get all signed up and then Kris takes us for a warm up ride to view the course. "Holy Sh__", were my words as we crested the giant hill and the only way out was down and it looked steep. I hung at the top and gathered my nerves all the while Kris and Alex come flying over like it nothing. Kris is yelling, "Come on Ronda, get down here". I finally got the nerve and made the plunge and it was scary. The course twisted and turned up and over things. It was full of sand pits, gravel traps and mud hills...not to mention the whole tree weaving thing. Needless to say I was freaking out. Now it's time to line up and the goal is to do as many laps as you can in 20 minutes for beginners. I come riding up late fully expecting to see ma, pa, grandma and grandpa lining up in this cue but all I see is a sea of jerseys and chicks sizing everyone up. What happened to casual fun???? Feeling like an idiot in my trail shoes a tank top and bike shorts I found rolled up in my costume drawer that I am sure date back to 1987. I belly up with my real cool bike which I am sure gave a conflicting message. All the time trying to be casual as I inch closer to the starting line I hear Kris yell, "Get up there Ronda, your cardio will out do them all". GREAT......... We are off and before I know it I am caught up in the mad dash to the first hill. I easily hold my place but am peddling like a freak so I shift...ooops wrong way, okay I got it and I am cruising along with a pack of mad woman. We come around the bend and skid like crazy and head to the sand hill. I hear someone yelling, "pick up speed", so I peddle like crazy to make it up but as I get closer to the top 4 woman are down forcing me off my bike. Then right next to me a gal picks up her bike maneuvers around the crash sight running over the hill then re-mounts. I take note for future pile ups. We are blazing and my heart rate is screaming as we head into the tree weaving section. I do well here, it pays to be short and small. I hold my own but suddenly realize, I am racing! Girls are fighting for position and fight back pumping my legs like crazy since I really don't know how to USE my bike. We come around for the first lap and I hear the announcer say, "We have quite a woman's race". Lap 1 goes by fast but lap 2 is even faster now that I know what I am doing, sorta. I have found a pack of wolves....I mean girls and we battle it out but a couple seem to break away. That carrying your bike and running technique came in handy on this lap. I am focused on what I see ahead which is Alex making his way through the course and I give him words of encouragement as I pass but he seems to not need it as he tries to take me out. On to lap 4 and not much time left I push and in the tree section I am head to head with a jersey and she tries to take me on the turn but falls and I just barely miss her tire saving myself. I asked her if she was okay as I passed and she sorta looked at me like I was nuts as if to say, "ya I'm fine, that's what we do here". Coming into the home stretch drenched in sweat but excited to have survived my first Mountain Bike Race I feel really jazzed! Despite my running shoes, old school pedals and total lack of experience I think I placed pretty well among the girls....results are not up yet. Alex believes he was leading the juniors at one point and Bill got in 3 laps on his Costco bike but felt like he got hit by a truck this morning. We stayed and watched Kris tear up the Sport class and she was at least in the top 4 plus she had some blood and bruises.....a real mountain biker. It was a blast and one hell of a workout; total threshold for 20 solid minutes!
So, my future in Mountain Biking remains to be seen and I will keep you posted as I progress. Bill thinks I will do just fine until I take one bad spill. He may be right but we will see. It is definitely not a sport for the faint at heart or the wimpy. Those bikers are scrapers and take the trail like they own it. "Flow like water", sounds like a good quote for mountain biking.
Besides last weeks bike race I ran 3 times just to get my legs moving again and worked out in the gym 3 times killing my upper body. This week it's back to training for Tetons! Tomorrow will be my first quality run since Bighorn. I am heading out for a tempo effort and see how it goes.