I’ll admit that I started writing my race report for the Rothrock TrailMix in my head several days ago. It was what I hoped to be a loving tribute to the trails that made me the #femdurobro that I am today with the knowledge that this race very well could be my first and last opportunity to compete on them. The problem with knowing trails so well is that I know exactly how fast I am on them in the best of conditions, and Strava and old race results make it very clear that that is not fast enough to keep up with the women that would likely be competing. So all I really hoped for was to ride the best I could on these trails that are so close to my heart, and maybe get a slightly entertaining post out of it by returning to my roots with parodied Taylor Swift lyrics for each stage. Because these trails are like my boyfriends that keep getting stolen…
'Cause here we are again, when I loved you so
Back before I lost the first downhill QOM I ever owned
It was rare, I was there, I remember it all too well
The problem with writing blog posts about future events is that my ability to predict the future isn’t actually that great. I never imagined that this morning would begin with Gloria rolling up to me in the pouring rain, riding her XC bike and saying, “Well, I guess it’s just the two of us.” At that point I realized that anything could happen.
For all of my mud-racing experience in West Virginia, the thought of rain on race day really scared me. Because trying to ride fast after it has rained in Rothrock is the worst. Except that “the worst” is when an unfortunately common surprise storm rolls in at 5:15 and lays a nice slick film on the normally grippy rocks. That’s when we usually slow roll it, because nobody’s setting any PRs in those conditions and it’s not worth getting hurt over.
However, today’s rain was not that rain. Today’s rain was hard and steady from during the night through most of the race. I normally don’t even think of Rothrock as having enough dirt to make mud, but with this much rain and about 100 more riders on the trail that normal, things went full West Virginia fast. And full West Virginia I can handle. Full West Virginia is what I know.
I preceded through Stage 1 and 2 pretty well for the conditions. I made a couple of mistakes on Stage 1, which was Bald Knob Death Drop, but nothing too horrible. When I popped out on the road after Stage 2, someone told me that Gloria wanted me to know that she’d dropped out and to ride safe. “Does that mean I win?!!” I blurted out. Then I felt like a jerk, but I figured if something very bad had happened to her, they would have lead with that. I confirmed with her after that she’d had a scary, but not that serious crash in Stage 1 and just didn’t want to push her luck after that. Her message was intended to let me know not to push mine too much either when all I had to do at that point was finish.
So I rode out the rest of the race with the intention of trying hard, but not hurting myself. I think I did alright at it. My times were really slow, but that’s not surprising in those conditions. I still felt like I was riding pretty well most of the time.
In the end, I got the thing that I wanted so badly but never expected I would get: to actually win a race on my home trails. Of course, I still hope that the DNCR changes their mind about not allowing Wildcat and New Laurel in races in the future, and that next year I can come back and compete in better conditions and on a more level playing field. I’ll hold off on writing that blog post for now, though, and concentrate what’s next, the WVES at Cooper’s Rock in a couple of weeks. I’ll let you know how that turns out after it happens.