|Photo by Dwight Wyatt
Just when you think you’ve experienced the “toughest ride ever”, life kicks you right in the throat. Welcome to cyclocross Miss Archer!
(If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.)
This past weekend was the Mud, Sweat and Gears series opener at Domtar Park in Kingsport, TN. I had been anxiously awaiting this moment since May and had no real idea of what I would be getting into. Sure, I’ve been to tons of CX races throughout my years in Boone and watching my bro, but I had never had the pleasure of being in the hurt locker with some of my closest friends. After Pisgah Monster Cross, I was certain I had the “hardest day ever”. 70 miles, 10,000 vertical and 7.5 hours in the saddle…you’d think I could handle two 30 minute races, right?
|Cat 4 ladies lined up at the start.
Photo by Autumn Lewis
My adrenaline was pumping all morning and my obnoxious voice was heard all over the course. CX is one of the few sports where I don’t get kicked out for my boisterous comments. I had the pleasure of joining some tough chicks on the MSG Women’s Team this season. I never expected to be part of the team, especially my first year, but these ladies welcomed me with open arms. Time to get this thing started…
First race on Saturday was a hot mess. It had rained off and on all morning and OF COURSE started pouring right before my race. When I say POURING, I mean the course looked like a creek. At this point I wondered if I could even stay upright on the bike. My stomach was flipping all over the place and I could barely breathe…we lined up. The guys started ahead of us…we waited…longest 2 minutes of my life.
“Riders get ready!” I thought my heart was in my throat. Go time. I pedaled my way to the front of the pack…then realized I had the holeshot. “SHIT! Now what?” I was in front with no idea how I got there and heard Jamie behind me, “Megan, that was fast.” Well, yeah…I didn’t mean to. For some odd reason I thought it was a good time to slow down and let her pass me. Rookie mistake. Even though she would eventually smoke my ass, I should have stayed up front as long as I could.
The course was sloppy and slick, but still manageable. I realized running barriers on tired legs didn’t look as graceful as it did in practice, nor did it feel good. I was trying to hang on to anything that might take my mind off the pain and suffering I was experiencing.
Lap 2. I thought, “Oh my God. I might die today.” I tried to stay in front of Grace (an 11 year-old who probably came out of her mama’s tummy on a bike), but she had a long distance runner’s fitness and passed me. I didn’t like it, but I knew I had to save myself for the remainder of the race. Jenna was close behind and I was killing myself to stay in front of her. We played cat and mouse for a while and she got out in front of me. At some point I passed her, but to be honest, I can’t remember when. I think I had a ‘brown out’ to numb the agony I was in.
I hear Kim Bishop yell, “This will be your last lap! Give it all you got right here!” Sweet! Just hang on for one more lap! I decided to push myself even harder. I made it to the finish line and then I realized we STILL had another lap. (Insert a very bad word HERE).
I felt the vomit chunks rising…I could hear the wheezing in my lungs. I guess it was time to nut up or shut up. So I did.
I don’t remember much of the last lap. I don’t remember much of the finish. I managed to hold the #3 spot out of 6. I was happy. I managed to surpass more than I thought I could handle. My team kicked butt too.
Day two. The course was TRASHED. More mud than the day before, but a much different texture.
Thankfully, I have SOME mountain bike skills that allowed me to stay on the bike and off the ground. I pedaled through the thick gunk and managed to get through all the sketchy spots without skipping a beat. We had two run-ups that really sucked, but I actually rode one of them on the final lap of my race. I felt pretty awesome at this point.
Jamie kicked all of our asses, Grace 2nd, Me 3rd and Jenna C. 4th. I got beat by an 11 year-old two days in a row. I’d like to thank Andrew Stackhouse for pointing this out.
She is a beast and will surely be a powerhouse to reckon with as she gets older. I want to be like her when I grow up.
|Pretty sure I’m pushing a HR of 200ish here.
Photo by Sybil Smith.
Long story short, CX rules. It hurts…probably more than anything I’ve ever done. The payout is worth every suffering moment. The endorphins are like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The crowd makes me smile. My teammates make me feel loved. I am hooked for life and can’t wait to see what this season has in store for me. I look forward to many more miserably awesome races. Maybe I’ll become a better athlete…maybe…
Maybe Aaron Casey will be my forever Pit Bitch?!