Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cycling Road Trip Kicks off the Season

My husband Phil and I just returned from a stellar road-trip vacation.  The 5000+ miles that we drove, carting both mountain and road bikes, enabled us to race, ride, and see friends and family along the way.  It was an outstanding way to enter the racing season.

I will be competing at the Leadville MTB Trail 100 this year, so getting in some long racing in preparation is my focus.  The Austin Rattler, in Smithville, TX, fit right in, giving me an early season race of 100 KM and also giving us an opportunity to visit some great folks in San Antonio we'd not seen for years.  The idea of a road trip was born out of this racing opportunity.

We drove to Texas via North Carolina, where we met with good friends and raced the US Cup East/SERC #2 in Bryson City.  The fast and flowing singletrack was a wonderful change from the snowy winter riding I had been doing, and took some getting used to, but was a terrific way to start the season and to get ready for Austin.

My race at the Austin Rattler was one of those where everything aligned just right.  The course, the weather, my bike, my body, and my super support crew all came together to give me one of the best mountain bike races ever.   The course consisted of four laps, 15 miles in length, which was a perfect format for me, and after the first lap I raced my way from fourth to first in my age group.  What fun!

My time for the race was 5 hours and 46 minutes, which was a pleasant surprise.  While I had hoped to break 6 hours I would have been happy with 6.5.  In addition to winning my age group, finishing in this time slot gave me a better corral in which to start Leadville.  My next races will be long as well, with the Wildcat 100KM in May and then the Wilmington/Whiteface 100 – another Leadville qualifier – in June.  Yippee!

Our trip home from Texas took us through Huntsville, AL.  Coincidentally, our daughter was there visiting with her boyfriend’s parents, and we were lucky enough to be able to join in with all of them for a day of hiking and general fun.  The next day we were taken on a great four hour ride to the east of Huntsville, and then we headed up to Chattanooga to do more visiting.  

Heading north from Tennessee, we consulted the map to see where we might be able to get in one more unique ride as we made our way home.  We stopped for the night at Beuna Vista, VA, where the Blue Ridge Parkway provided us with such an opportunity, and the next day I managed to find the longest contiguous climb along the parkway -- 12.5 miles!  Anyone who knows me knows that I love to climb the monsters, and this was one terrific rise to the top.  I even saw a Golden Eagle, who’s shadow as it flew over me was like that of an airplane – huge.  Phil picked me up at the top of this climb, we repacked our van for the final time, and 10 hours later we were home, safe and sound.  

Lucky us!  We are so blessed to be able to do this and to have such an array of caring friends and family.  Thank you to everyone who helped us out along the way.