My team is putting on a short track series this summer and Marsha said, “It’s an easy course – doable on a cross bike!” Well, I have the new cross bike so why not try it. But what is short track racing? Short track MTB racing takes place on a ~3/4 mile trail and is a cross between a criterium, cyclo-cross and single-track off-road racing. Racers do multiple laps on the short 3-5 minute course, and most races are about 20-30 minutes in length. My race for the Cat. 3 (beginner MTB category) women’s race was 20 minutes.
I drive out to Bells Bend (about 15 minutes north from my house) and park and get the bike out and walk over to where the registration was being set up. Rocks! Lots of them! “Oh yeah, there are snakes here.” WHAT!?! What came to mind immediately was, “Why don’t we have a velodrome?” Putting the snakes out of my mind, I helped set up the tent and got oriented about where the number goes (on the bike, not the person), gave out that important information to a few newbies, and then Tammy said she’d take me around the course.
Well, I haven’t really ridden off-road regularly since 2008 when I raced a lot of cyclocross so my off-road skills are rusty. Plus, a new bike. Most of the course was OK, though there was one double whoop-de-doop. In the trees. With rocks and roots. All I could think was my knee being a big vase or urn and falling and smashing into a million pieces. Probably wouldn’t happen, I know, but my mind still doesn’t believe it. So I got off and walked the double w-d-d. Finished up the lap (0.8 miles long) and really wasn’t sure I’d race. Velodrome anyone???
There were two races before the W3s so I had about 45 minutes to think about it. Finally it was time time to line up so I decided to do one lap and stop. There were 10 women in the Cat. 3s and I lined up in the back, next to teammate (and virgin racer) Dawn. At the whistle, we were off and I rode at my own pace, with Dawn behind me. We got over to the trees and I told Dawn I was getting off and walking it and she said that was fine. “Do you want to go ahead of me?” “No, you’re a good lead” so on through the rest of the lap and to the start finish. Somewhere along the way I decided to do another lap. Again, stop to walk the double-w-d-d and I let Dawn go ahead. I started to feel a little better on the bike and when I got to the start finish, official Izzy rang the bell and said, “One more!” so I headed out on lap 3. Finished upright and last, but I did it and didn’t quit. And today the knee is stiff but feels pretty good. Next race is July 14th.