Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Breathing Fire with the Angels

Angel Fire New Mexico: May 23, 24, 25th. Cindy went down and raced the Super D on Friday. Wish I could have been there. She's got guts! Took her new Maverick through the toughest stuff around...and has bruises and scratches to prove it.
If that wasn't enough to put the fear of fire into me, all of the previous warnings of racers did. Technical, rocky, muddy, roots, trees, rocks, steep, narrow, tight switchbacks, rocks, and did I mention rocks. I had visions of hospital time, ambulance rides, etc. If I listened to the little voice in my head, I wouldn't have raced!
Cindy pre-rode the course after racing the Super D. I considered pre-riding, 'till I met Katie and Mark Compton at the base, (oh, is a ski resort...ride up, ride down a couple of times...that's the race) Katie recommended not to bother pre-riding. Too much climbing the eve before the race. So Bob & I ate and drank beer instead.

Here's the scene: We "camped" in the dirt parking lot at the race venue. We watched the 4 cross race from our "campsite." It's an extreme downhill race with 4 guys at a time! We could walk to the expo across the street, or up to see any of the races. The other direction provided views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Cindy and I raced sport category. (The UCI official was at registration and recommended that I race sport since I race cat. 3 in cyclocross. I tried to explain my non-technical skills, she said it's more about endurance...what do I I changed to sport. Beware: you can never race in an easier category- well unless you're a woman and race with men- sorry guys)

The Race: The weather was perfect. 65-70 degrees, bluebird sky. Climb, climb, climb. Some sections steep, but not as steep as Battle of the Bear hills. The course meandered through the alpine forest. It crossed the ski run a couple of times, the scenery was amazing! The only part people walked was toward the top where we were breathing fire with the angels...we were at 10,000+ feet. I'd like to blame the rocks, but if we were riding a flat section at 5, ooo ft, I believe we all would have ridden it.

The descent was narrow and root-ridden, but all rideable. Bounced around through the rocks and tight switchbacks. I did eat dirt about 5 times...trying to get those skills tuned in. A full suspesion would have been handy on the downhill, but I was happy not to have it on the climb! Besides, I don't own one so that made the decision easy.

I lost 3rd place a couple of hundred yards before the finish. Went through a narrow section, a tree grabbed my handle bars and threw me down, letting the 3rd place gal gently ride to the finish.
Cindy and I were back to back at the finish, 4th and 5th. I wish I had a photo of her, but Bob didn't get one.

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