Pick Your Poison XC- March 15th
Crystal’s First Mountain Bike Race
by Crystal Henry
With the past month full of fowl snowy and rainy weather, it was a delight to wake up to an abundance of sunshine and temps in the 70’s, for SORBA Chattanooga’s Pick Your Poison race held at Booker T Washington State Park. I’ve been itching to jump head-first into mountain bike racing and this race offers participants a fun trail with a 7 mile loop; this was the perfect first race.
After getting warmed up, I pulled up to the start line and was delighted to see several other Vixens racing in the Cat 3 Women’s field, as well! It’s always so nice to have other teammates on race day.When the whistle blew, I took off as fast as I could taking the hole shot and leading the race into the woods.
For the first 15 minutes, I just went all out trying to get as much of a gap as I could manage, as I knew that there was a few short climbs and I’m not the best climber. At one point, I started climbing a steep section and when I was shifting to a smaller gear, I immediately got a sinking feeling as I heard the unmistakable sound of my chain dropping. I jump off, reach for my chain on my front chainring and realize that’s not the issue, so I shift my gaze to my rear cassette and groan as I see that my chain has been thrown off into my spokes…not good! Luckily, I had stopped peddling the second I heard an issue take place. Otherwise, that bad boy would have been lodged in there and possibly broken spokes. I reached in, pulled the chain back on to my rear cassette, gave the pedal a spin and jumped back on and took off. I’m very fortunate that this is something that I have regularly trained for in Cyclocross, as it is a given that you are going to drop a chain at some point during a cross season.
I continue on, passing several of the CAT 3 men and juniors who where all very nice and let me pass easily. At this point, I begin to notice someone getting close to me and then falling back a few times but I just assume that it is one of the CAT 3 men that I had passed earlier. I hit the big hill on the course and hear the crazy cheering coming from the Handup Gloves heckle tent at the top. Then, I start hearing someone breathing hard behind me…and it sounds like a girl! Susan, a new Vixen has caught up and overtakes me at the top of the hill. At this point there is no more slacking, it’s race time.
I had pre-ridden the course enough to know that there wouldn’t be anymore difficult uphill sections hindering me to stay away from Susan. Susan has incredible fitness but is new to mountain biking, so on the next downhill section my handling skills allowed me to pass her and from that point I hauled it. I gave it everything I had, all the way to the finish line. I had just won….that was AWESOME. Can we do it again?