Today marked the end of the Southern Classic Series with the tenth and final race of the season. We headed to Bur Mill Park in Greensboro to race the “Sizzler,” a fast and rooty course on a hot July day. I was excited to line up with 9 other really fast women, one of the biggest fields of the year. This race was also a lot of fun because Zeb was able to come with me, and we saw our buddy Miles from our App State racing days. There were several of our JA King teammates in attendance, and I also got to meet John King, the owner of the team. He lives right next to the park, and I was happy to finally meet the man who has made much of this season possible, both by supporting our personal racing and by being the title sponsor of the Southern Classic Series.
The women’s race was at 11am, and we were headed out for three laps, six miles each. The course was really rooty and had a lot of sharp sandy corners, but with the minimal elevation gain I could tell it would be a fast one. I was determined to finish strong today, especially as redemption after I unfortunately overheated and dropped out of the last race in Hobby Park. I was disappointed in my performance in the last race, and had planned this one much better by making sure to prehydrate more and get more sleep ahead of time. I was ready to go with my hammer gel in my pockets, heed in my bottles, and some beetelite that I drank right before warming up.
The beets are supposed to help stimulate nitric oxide and extend your endurance by improving your blood’s oxygen delivery. I don’t know if it is just mental, but I feel like drinking it helps me perform better, so I’ve been making it a part of my pre-workout routine. I also just got some topical edge lotion after reading positive reviews, and though I’ve only used it a handful of times so far I also feel like it’s a big help. The lotion has sodium bicarbonate in it, which is supposed to help your muscles get rid of lactic acid faster so you can go harder with less soreness later. It also might be just mental, but my legs feel fresher longer in my ride with the lotion, so I’ve been having fun experimenting with these pre workout additions.
I had raced against all of the women at the “Sizzler” before at previous races in the series, and it was fun to battle it out one last time together. The start of the race was on a grassy stretch of field that led immediately to a paved greenway before turning onto the trail. The start of the race was fast, but everyone settled in on the paved stretch to try to draft off of eachother. I tucked behind Philicia from CycleWorks and Erica Zaveta, but Skylar (one of my JA King teammates) snuck in front of me as we turned the corner and climbed onto the trail. I was into the woods 4th, but since the course was so fast, everyone stayed together for the first half of the lap. A couple miles into the course, the trail turned into greenway again, and Erica attacked. I followed her, drafting on her wheel until we made it back to singletrack. I stayed in second until we came around for the second lap, when Skylar attacked from behind and moved ahead of me. I tried to stay on her wheel, but she was too fast on the descents and her technical skill surpassed mine in the sandy corners. I lost a lot of time by braking too much around turns, and she and Erica rode away from me before we came around for the third lap.
I was alone in the woods for much of the final lap, until I heard laughing and whooping behind me. Bonnie, another racer for JA King, was having so much fun on the course that she was practically giggling down the trail. Her positivity is infectious, and she hardly seemed tired because she was having so much fun. Sarah from SpokeEasy was riding with her, and she broke away on a climb, leaving me to chase her. I caught her wheel on the greenway section again and was able to draft a bit and luckily let my heart rate lower again. We stayed together for the remainder of the race, and she is great at keeping a steady but demanding pace. As we came around the final turn of the race, we sprinted up the grass to the finish, and I barely outsprinted her to the line. Of course you always want to win any race you enter, but I was also happy with third against such a strong field.
The most exciting part of the day was that I was able to hang onto enough points to get the regional champion title for women! I was also really happy that Zeb won the regional title for men, and it was fun to celebrate a great season with racers that I really admire. On Wednesday we’ll start the drive up to Snowshoe for mountain bike nationals, and I can’t wait to see what this weekend will hold.