I finally made it back to Domnarski this year. I last raced this course in 2014 and the course was as difficult as I remembered; an uphill start over a bunch of sharp rocks for 1.2 miles and then fire roads, and a single track descent which was so fun it made you forget that first climb altogether–until you did it a second time. I raced Cat 3 and the loop was the shorter of the two loops at Domnarski–the “beginner” lap. First timers did it once, Cat 3’s twice.
It was a warm sunny day and the hill was exhausting–but the rest of the ride was a bunch of fun. 4 women started, I was the only 35+ woman so as long as I finished I would simultaneously “win” and “lose” my race. My goal was to finish faster than I did in 2014.
Mission accomplished. I came in 3rd overall and beat my time from 2014 (according to Strava).
2014 lap times: Lap 1 – 30:04, Lap 2 – 32:39
2017 lap times: Lap 1 – 29:42, Lap 2 – 31:44
And as mentioned before, I was the only 35+ women, so solo podium for me.
As an extra bonus, I learned after the race that this was the Massachusetts State Championship for the Root 66 Series, so I got an extra medal from USA Cycling, which was kind of cool, but still felt a little over the top, especially since I didn’t compete against anyone in my age group.
I am still racing the Cat 3 (beginner) class, mostly because before 2017 I had done about 2 races since the year 2000. Last year I didn’t do any mountain bike races. This is my 3rd MTB race this year, and while I still don’t feel like I’m ‘fast,” I’m not a beginner and unlike cyclocross–I usually get a good result in mountain biking races. For next year, I plan to suck it up and upgrade to Sport (Cat 2) for mountain biking. This is NOT the plan for cyclocross however–I will remain a cat 4 and continue to finish mid-pack on my best days.
I was also great seeing Kait again who is slaying all the 18-34 age group races in our category, and meeting a couple more women who raced. We were all pretty surprised there weren’t more women racing on such a picture perfect Sunday, but it was fun to chat for a while after the race.
I don’t know if I’ll have time in the schedule for additional MTB races this year. I plan to to the JAM Fund Grand Fundo and need to start training for the climbing/distance right now if I’m going to have a good day that day. And then cross season will be upon us in no time…I usually switch back to riding the cross bike exclusively by August. But I want to stay flexible this year in what I plan to do. I am not sure I’ll be doing so many cross races in 2017–I say this now but we’ll see. I know once I get a taste again I’ll want to do as many as I can.
Last weekend I raced the Fat Tire Classic–a mountain bike race I’ve never done but had wanted to do for years. Up before 6:30am on a Sunday, I was seriously questioning why this was important — a Cat 3, 35+ event at 9am a state away. My stomach was feeling off all morning and I was tired and unmotivated. Already running late, I was concerned to find the LONGEST pre-reg line I’ve ever seen in my life. I barely got to the start on time and with no course inspection whatsoever, we went.
Then, I proceeded to have one of the greatest races of my life. Not because I’m all that. I was lucky enough to be very evenly matched with another woman. First place was long gone but my race was the race for second. I was 3rd, then 2nd, then 3rd, then 2nd again. I’m not sure how often we traded places by but the second lap we had traded names and complimented each other on the spirited rivalry.
In the end, I held her off to claim second, but another mile of trail and it very well could have been her taking the second spot on the podium. We hugged after the race and I thanked her. So seldom do I get a real race in these events, and she really gave me that, which made the day for me.
My first love, mountain biking, is being rekindled with the long awaited arrival of my newest toy: The 2014 Giant XtC 27.5 Mountain Bike. It’s been 14 years…..YEARS…since I bought a new MTB. It was time. I probably could have done smarter things with the money, but after putting my first love on the backburner year after year, I took a look at my chronological age and thought if it was going to happen, it probably should happen now.
The XtC is a fairly reasonable mid level bike. Not carbon but lighter than what I’ve been riding, even with it’s disc brakes. I’m also on a larger wheel, a 27.5 (650b). I demoed the XtC 29er and the 27.5 and found the 27.5 much nimbler and responsive than the 29er. The 29er rolls fast but I found you needed to plan turns. When I mountain bike, I find it a reactionary experience…quick decision making on the trail and nimble handling is much appreciated. I’m riding a real upgrade in the XtC. Here are just a few highlights:
- RockShox Recon Gold with 15mm thru-axle, OverDrive steerer suspension fork
- Shimano SLX/Deore 2×10-speed drivetrain with hydraulic disc brakes
- Giant S-XC2 27.5 double wall rim, Giant Tracker hub, stainless steel spoke wheelset
I’d like to report more on the riding experience, but truth is, I got it on Saturday and haven’t had a chance to ride it yet. It’s driving me a little insane to have this machine in my living room with 62 degree perfect degree days and me not having the time to ride it. I mean to remedy it soon, and as soon as I do, I’ll give a full rundown of it’s awesomeness.
Today I signed up for my first event, the Rockbuster duathlon in Ashland, MA. I’ve blogged about (and done) the Mud, Sweat & Gears duathlon in Ashland, and Rockbuster is essentially the same race. Same course, same distance, same event–different time of year. It takes place on April 22, 2012 and if you’re feeling up for some off-road cycling and trail running, you can sign up here.
I’m petitioning my brother to do this event with me and right now, he says he’s up for it. It’s 34 days away and I’m not sure how active he’s been this winter. But he’s got this great “jump right in with both feet” attitude about pretty much most everything he does, so I’m not counting him out.
Here’s how I know:
The DB parked in front of the local bike shop this morning. The bags are Topeak Pannier DryBags, and they are great. They hold a lot and protect the library books without having to put them in plastic bags first. As most of you know, the tires are the Nokian Extremes. It’s a great set-up for winter riding in New England, on or off road.
Distance: 11.68 miles
Temperature: 29˚ F
Ride category: Errands
First, let’s not hold me to any specific number of posts or anything. Structure is my enemy. Now that we’ve cleared that up.
My hand is dirty because I switched out the tires on the Diamondback ascent. The Nokian Extremes are back for winter 2010. I would like to bring to your attention that surprisingly, there is no blood in the above photo. I decided to go outside and bomb around the neighborhood. Here’s a photo of the new Franklin County Speedway (aka my backyard):
I did not make any resolutions or set any goals for 2010; see the first paragraph re structure. I am planning on doing the Warrior Dash as well, but that’s not a goal. There is beer, so no need to explain any further. Hmmm, maybe I’ll challenge Karen to double or nothing.
Distance: Several laps around the FC speedway
Temperature: 20˚ F
Ride category: First official run of 2010 for the Nokian Extremes
You know that feeling you get when you get a brand new bike? It’s the same as when you were 12 years old. That feeling–it’s timeless. It doesn’t go away. Getting a new bike is getting to be 12 again. And nothing much comes close to that feeling.
Except for when you participate and helping someone get a new bike.
Bike salespeople probably have the best jobs ever. They get to participate in connecting people with a new bike….A New Bike! A symbol of freedom, exploration, and strength. These salespeople are usually extremely knowledgeable, and work to connect the right bike to the right person. Like Bicycle Matchmakers. How lucky they are to do that all day long.
I recently was consulted by a new friend on the purchase of a mountain bike. She shopped around, did a little research and settled on the Raleigh 8.0 Mojave. It’s a decent entry level mountain bike with room to grow. I think she’s going to love it. And now I have someone steady to ride with whenever I’m in Colorado….