Of course, there is a little more story to be told in between the two pictures, like why I felt like throwing up in the first one. The short answer is that since the possibility of winning was revealed to me at the DINO Spring Tune-Up, I had been placing an unhealthy amount of pressure on myself to WIN at DINO BCSP. Unfortunately, even though I've finally gotten over thinking that I'm genetically or cosmically doomed to lose, too many years of thinking that have weakened the skills I need to WIN.
All in all, the race went okay after I got over my jitters. I got a good start, and even though I lost more places than I wanted to on the opening climb, it was still probably the best start I've ever had on that killer hill. I entered the singletrack in fifth place out of ten Cat 2 girls, but I wasn't too far back overall and I was within a few bike lengths of third and fourth. I lost some ground early on because I was so blasted from the opening climb, but I worked my way back up to visual contact with fourth place. Unfortunately, I got caught by another girl very close to the top of the Aynes climb, and I made the overly polite decision to let her pass rather than turning myself inside out to stay in front over the crest and then rail the descent to lose her. As it was, I had to re-pass her right after cresting the hill and although I put some time on her on the descent, it was not enough to keep her away through the top of the North Tower climb.
In the end, I got 6th out of 10, which is sort of crappy in the context that I came into the race with the idea that I would be really disappointed with anything short of 1st. However, the top half of the field was well-matched, and my 6th place was still only about 6.5 minutes back from the winning time, and the 4-6 places were all within a minute of each other. After looking at old results, I realized that I have only been that close to the winning time of a race two other times: my last beginner class race in 2006 and my last DINO-sanctioned outing back in April.
So the point is that it was actually a good race, but it just fell below the expectations I had set for myself. I still don't like the idea of myself as a Cat 2 rider, because it's hard to admit that I still can't keep up with the girls who kicked my ass when we were all beginners a few years ago and that many of the girls I can compete with have only been racing a year or two. The positive side of it is that I am actually really getting to compete now instead of showing up and having the race decided in the first few minutes. It doesn't look like I'll be earning my sandbagger crown/ unarguable upgrade by July like I'd hoped, but it's looking like this might be the year I actually start to have fun with XC racing.