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Monday, April 20, 2015

Illiniwek Abermination

It feels good to have the first mountain bike race of the season out of the way! It's always nerve wrecking to see how things go at the beginning of the season. The race didn't go as well as I hoped, and I finished 2nd, several minutes down from 1st place. But at least now I know where my fitness stands and know what I need to work on going forward!
Nervous on the start line! Photo by Brittany McConnell
I had a rough start, not being able to get clipped in through the gassy start. I had to make big effort once getting fully clipped in, to get around another girl and hit the single track in second. 

Liz was ahead and dominated the first climb. I couldn't get a good flow and she held her gap on the flowing and twisting sections that followed. By the time I popped out of the single track to the first open section Liz already had a 15-20 second lead. I thought I could close the gap a little on the next single track section, but I was not cornering confidently and was breaking far too much. I just couldn't get into a good rhythm/flow- which was super frustrating because the fast/twisty sections are usually my strong point. 
Photo by Jamie Parkin
Liz was killing it on the course and had strengthened her lead to over a minute on the first lap. It was really hard mentally for me to be in this position, since last year I was used to being the one stretching the lead or riding very close to first. I kept powering on though, I knew that Ann wasn't far behind in third place. (Awesome job in your first Expert race by the way!). 

It was a hard 4 laps - so much climbing! But after all the climbs we were rewarded with very fun downhills and flowy sections. The trails were in excellent condition and the new wooden berm was a definite highlight of the trails. I can't wait until they finish the other two! The final descent was spectacular as well. It's roller coaster fast and you just fly through the woods- so much fun! 

Post race with the IC crew. Photo by Brittany McConnell
The other highlights of the day were the amazing weather, and a good sized women's field (8). It's always more fun with more competitors.

Thank you to the race directors, officials, volunteers, and everyone who helped make this such a great race!
Ladies Podium! Photo by Brittany McConnell
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