This past week was not what I was expecting. EWS races usually aren’t, but I do admit I sort of thought I had an idea of what I was getting into this year. Wrong again, oh well. This time, instead of being shocked by the sheer treachery of the tracks (they were actually pretty manageable), I was absolutely blindsided by the amount of climbing required to pre-ride for two days and then race. Four LONG days, 24 hours total, 200km, 125 miles and 20,000 feet of climbing. Guys, my ass still hurts and it’s Tuesday.
Going into the race Saturday exhausted was not really part of my game plan. I wanted to see how I could do with fresh legs. I wanted to race, not just cling on to my bars with jello arms and hope I didn’t get bucked. But this is why game plans are stupid for enduro, because they always get derailed. Everyone was tired, and that’s part of it. But I admit I was kind of hoping it would be, I don’t know, a bit more fun and a little less painful. That said, I’m fairly pleased with how I raced. I didn’t feel like I was getting massively psyched out at any point, and I only crashed once. I made some tactical errors and took some god-awful lines, so I’m pretty happy with a 19th place result (which is my best EWS result ever, so that’s good).
Unfortunately my one and only crash was kind of a doozy that sent me flying onto my head and then pinwheeling into the bushes, where I spent about 50 seconds to a minute (according to my Garmin) flailing upside down until the spectators fished me out (and retrieved my bike which had ended up about 15 feet farther into the bushes). I spent the next transition picking dirt out of my nose and ears and exfoliating my butt with all the sand that ended up in my chamois (I do NOT recommend this). Somehow though, I was completely fine, minus the fact that my heart rate monitor tried to impale me. Really thankful for all my POC gear for keeping my head and knees intact. In fact, I barely even have any bruises and I didn’t even break or lose my phone despite being a dummy and leaving it in the outside pocket of my backpack. Mainly I wasted a lot of time, which was a bummer, but life goes on.
And really the best part of this race was not so much the race, but the whole experience of being on a bike in this part of the world, which is, of course, precisely why I keep doing these races even when they break me emotionally and physically. This weekend, we rode past bulls pulling logs out of the woods, took a water taxi across the bay to get to the start and finished each practice day with a traditional “completo chileno,” basically a hot dog smothered in chopped up tomatoes, avocado, mayo and spicy aji. I signed autographs for a horde of small boys who were lining the street and collecting signatures in their school notepads. One of them was like, “did you really come from so far away just to ride through our pueblito?” and I was like “yeah, I guess I did” and to be honest, it’s the most compelling reason I’ve come up with so far for why I keep showing up to these races and getting the snot kicked out of me, over and over again. Seeing the world from a bike is just, plain and simple, a better way of seeing.
So now, on to Bariloche where thankfully we get to ride a chairlift, at least for practice. And this time I have no game plan, other than “no more falling on my head.”