I just had to meet Rebecca Rusch. She is such an incredible athlete and I admire her. She is 3 time winner of Leadville and course record holder. She is past winner and course record holder of Dirty Kanza. She is a Firefighter in Idaho. She has many other titles and accomplishments. When I heard she would be at Smithville, racing the Rattler 100 (a Leadville qualifying race) I knew I had to sign up. This would also be good training for dirty kanza.
So I wake up at 4am on race day, load my heavy ass 29er, and head to Smithville. I am questioning myself the whole drive- I'd rather be at home in bed. But then I got to Rocky Hill Ranch and a rich electricity of excitement was buzzing in the air. There were so many people and everyone was happy and friendly. Packet pickup was quick and smooth, and the t-shirts were awesome. I put my ice chest in the feed zone area just past the start finish line. We would be doing 4 X 15.5 mile laps totaling 100K (62 miles) so I would be needing feeds.
There was a MASS START. Everyone was fighting for a spot and I ended up next to a girl from Mexico and she started mad dogging me. She talked loudly to the matching kit man beside her about keeping up with Rebecca. So I figured she was some pro or something. I know nothing of mountain bike girls these days. So when the gun went off, sure as shit Mexico mama goes on the outside up to all the fast guys. I jump on her wheel for the free ride. I see Stefan, JT Cody, Tristan Uhl, Robbie Robbinette, and other likes. YIKES.
LAP 1: So we hit the first incline and Mexico girl pops. I am surrounded by guys so I am unsure where any other women are (other than Rebecca who is up front). The incline turned steep and lasted a long time. The group splintered. Man, I should have pre-rode. With no knowledge of the course, I blindly follow tight behind any wheel I can scramble upon. Drafting on trails is quite different and much harder than on the road. No one was pointing out stuff. You have to be ready for anything. There were some crazy single track sections that made me scream and pucker. I survived and was back at the start/finish. 3 more times. UGH! I think I can...I know I can. So one of my darling friends saved my life and gave me my hand ups so I wouldn't have to stop and scrummage in the cooler.
LAP 2: This was when the shit hit the fan. I am on a jeep road and can motor so I have a string of ducklings behind me hitching a ride when before I realize we take a 90 degree turn into the single track. Oh NO! I didn't have time to get behind the guys. For those of you who KNOW me inside and out, I have some power but lack the technical skills on the trails to go with the power. This means a lot of flailing and sometimes crashing. Especially if people are behind me. I get nervous. So I am winding in and out of trees and they are getting closer and closer to each other until finally I don't make one pass and WHACK, my handlebar clips a tree, sending me belly flopping down the side of a shrub infested hill. The guys all stopped but I told them to go on. I collected myself and got back on, luckily with only a few puncture wounds on my leg and knotted up knee. Back in business, I have time to make up so I haul booty. Until I hit a trench at speed and burp most of the air out of my rear tire. I have to stop and air it up best as possible with my little frame pump. My brain was already showing signs of prolonged oxygen deprivation because it woulda been hell of faster to use my CO2... So with about 15 psi in my rear, I continue on.
LAP 3. I ride with 787's long legged Sheeva. Over 2.5 hours in and only consumed one water bottle and one protein/electrolyte bottle, I need to work on my nutrition. I brain farted and didn't stop at mechanic's tent for air. So I baby my bike the whole lap. This is the worst lap for me mentally because I know I still have one left.
LAP 4: This time I remember to stop at the mechanic's tent and they pump up my rear tire while my friend feeds me pb&J uncrustables and a gatorade. I feel GOOD after that and head out for my last lap. The announcer screams that I am the 2nd place woman, just behind Rebecca! I want to be on the podi with her so bad. That would be the coolest thing EVER! So I need to just ride safe and steady. No crashes, No mechanicals, No mental breakdowns. JUST GET THROUGH. And I did, 4 hours 41 minutes. It was much harder than the Red River Riot, hands down. My whole body hurt. Rebecca beat me by like 20 minutes or so and was already showered by the time I finished. I got to meet her and she was super cool! It was an awesome day for my memory bank.