In an effort to gain some race experience, and take advantage of the UCI points I’d accumulated last year, I decided to head out to New York to race in World Cup #5. I did this race last year and since it was my first time racing in a World Cup the experience was more one of awe and nerves than it was one of actual competition. This year I went to Windham with the intention of racing as hard as I could to see how I stacked up against some of the international racers.
I arrived at Albany airport Wednesday afternoon and fellow racer/ solo traveler, Meghan Korol, picked me up from the airport. I was super happy to find Meghan as I was trying to figure out my travel plans. We’d never met, but it worked out great to have someone to travel and stay with. Meeting new racers is one of the reasons I like mountain biking so much!
Thursday morning, we headed over to the venue to pick up our packets and check out the course. I was number 60 this year which was a big improvement over last year’s 75 starting position! Once we got our numbers, we went out for some laps on the course. The course was more fun than I remembered it. There were a few spots of mud and the dark “jungle” sections were a little slimey, but otherwise I thought the course was in good shape. I was pretty pumped to make it through everything pretty cleanly on the first lap around. We then spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning our bikes and relaxing….ah, the life of a bike racer! Friday was the same thing-more laps on course, more hours spent cleaning and relaxing. I also spent some time chatting with the Subaru Trek crew, who very kindly offered to help me out in the tech/feed zone. Cool!
Saturday morning arrived and Meghan and I loaded up the car to head to the venue. I’ll admit I was pretty nervous! As I was warming up, I drank a full bottle of mix, ate a clif shot, and took down some salt tabs. With the heat, I didn’t want to risk the dehydration/hypernametria that I have issues with.
Anway, I had a great start. The stars were well aligned for me as I picked the right wheels to stay behind and was able to ride everything but one section. I was determined to get in a good position-and I pretty much did! On lap two, I bobbled a silly section and lost a few places. Lap 3 my stomach started getting angry. I tried to eat some shot blocks which took awhile to get down. Lap 4 my stomach and my legs started to cramp and I was starting to get really thirsty for just plain water. My drink mix just wasn’t doing it for me. I was also getting really hot! Unfortunately, I slowed down on lap 4 and 5 and just wasn’t able to catch the girls in front of me that I had been chasing. I crossed the line in 41st place. I was really happy to finish without getting pulled, and I was pleased that I felt technically smooth and cleared everything without any issues-sometimes my nerves get the better of me and I am not able to control my bike like I want to. In hindsight, I think I over did it with the salt tabs and drink mix. My stomach wasn’t able to handle the concentration and got angry.
All in all, it was a great experience. The course was fun, I got some more UCI points, and I got to pretend to be a full-time bike racer which is a nice change.