My "road" to this race was bumpy. After my National Championships "bust", I was feeling pretty blown out, mentally and physically. I took a week off to recover and regroup. On August 3-4, 2013, Erin and I took a road trip. We went and raced the XC race at Big M promoted by Tailwind Racing. It was 24 miles with about 2600' of climbing. I felt good and was using that race as training for O2S the following week. I won Big M and had an awesome time camping, riding, racing and hanging with my teamie, Erin.
(Big M podium)
The Experience - Ore To Shore (O2S)
On Friday, August 9, 2013, 6:00 am, the big white "bus" (aka our van), headed 8.5 hrs to Marquette, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. We set up camp at Tourist Park and soon Jay and I were joined by Erin and T.J.. We pre-rode the last few miles of the course. The weather was perfect and I was excited to race!
(On our way U.P.!)
(Preride - the sand dunes)
Here we go..... the big day....
(On our way to the start line. Look how happy we are and it's early!)
(The mass start!)
Hundreds of riders lined up at the start line. Because of my strong O2S finishes in the past, I was granted preferred start. I was able to be about 3rd row from front. It's a crazy mass start. "Go" came soon enough and the large group of racers were rumbling through the town on pavement. It gets pretty sketchy with the high speeds and volume of people. As we made a right hand turn I got bumped on my right side and then was countered with a slight bump on my left which kept me upright! I heard a voice shout out to "hang on Sue" and I did... phew.... I felt strong and was holding a good position. Soon we were off the pavement and rolling through/over red rock wide trail which lead to the first climb. Just to test the legs. I knew the woman to beat would be Jenna Rinehart so I kept her in sight just up ahead of me. At the top of the climb the pace picked up and a small gap formed between the group I was riding and her group. I worked hard to hold the group and we had a nice pace going. Next thing I knew around 11-12 miles in we were braking.... coming to a complete stop!! Railway track + front of locomotive + train cars extended beyond sight = turning point in race. I was front row. If only I had got there a little sooner. :( I watched in disbelief, are you kidding me? At this point the race was blown apart, the leader gone and the gap I had built on the other women no longer existed. Hundreds of racers were stacked behind. This would cause a "restart" to the race. However, more shocking was the behavior of some of the racers. A few that got there at the same time as I did, outran the front of the train and cut across the track within feet of the "bumper" of the train. The train began to slow down and came to a stop. With that a few more racers tried to (some successful) cross over the train cars! Then the train began to back up and that caused more chaos as racers were now yelling at the idiots who were trying to jump through the train. At this point I had been waiting probably 6 min and then the train came to a stop again. This time we all pedaled down the side of the track toward the locomotive and we safely crossed. Momentum lost, positions lost, I had to work my a$$ off again to reclaim my original position. I was able to grab onto a strong group of riders. At Misery Hill (long hike a bike, rock, eroded, power line, cut climb) I had a small lead on 3rd place lady. I knew how important it was going to be to hang with these guys when the trail opened up to pavement. I did not want to take the wind solo, nor the loooong road climb on my own! I slowly gained some time on third. With 7 miles to go, I was feeling the fatigue in my upper body and losing some power in my legs through the grass and sand. Finally after 2hrs 54 min, I crossed the finish line in 2nd out of approx. 80 women!! Even with the hold up I managed to beat my time from last year! Erin came in 9th and was smiling from ear to ear!
(Post race - 2nd place)
(O2S podium pic!)
On Sunday, Jay, Erin, T.J. and myself went to ride Marquettte Mountain. That place is amazing! I cannot even begin to describe it. You have to experience it for yourself. Gawd, so much fun!!! Sunday night we jumped off of the Black Rock Cliff into Lake Superior. I hate cold water but it really was worth it!
(Riding at Marquette Mountain)
(The views and trails are just awesome!)
(Rock/cliff jumping into Lake Superior.... in my kit!)
(Some cool shots on our travels home!)