The adventure has begun. From Holzgerlingen to Todtnau and then to Oberstdorf, Germany, with many great stops along the way, we arrived in Houffalize Belguim. This beautiful drive had been filled with incredible riding and views, from the alps to the valleys.
The excitement began building up from the moment we pulled up and I was so ready to race. The course was great and what we were calling a real mountain bike course. It contained steep climbs and technical descents, perfect for my Specialized Epic, and after a fun pre-ride I was feeling smooth. The days past slowly, but on Saturday morning I was standing on the line with the u19 girls. Well, the ten of us behind a hundred boys was not quite on the line, but the more the merrier. Bam! And the craziness began. We searched for ways through the large pack to get into a good position. I watched as my competitors moved through beside me, all hoping the single track wouldn't come to quick. We were within the middle when the running began, as the mass struggled up the first single track climb. I ran with the pack and saw one girl a few riders ahead. We headed right into the first technical section and the group split up on the two lines, but for now it was a running race for everyone. I went into the A line, hopped off, and ran as quickly down the loose drop as possible. Soon, we were all back on our bikes and the group raced towards the next technical descent. Again we ran, tripping and stumbling down the roots. I was feeling strong as I got back on my bike and raced on, but I had no idea where the other girls were. With all the confusion with the boys I had lost my competition, she could be in front or behind me, so I just kept up a steady pace. I reached the downhill and raced through the fun. Into the second lap I went and the pain began. I was becoming tired and wasn't able to hold my strong pace. I saw the next girl below me and she was looking strong. As my legs stiffened I tried to go hard, but my legs simply said no and went as slow as possible. ug. She went for the pass near the end of the lap and I pushed to stay with her. I was suffering and not moving. Slowly she left my sight and I was riding alone through the trees. Again, I headed out for the next lap, just hoping I could hold on the second. The other girls were far back and I just stayed focused and crawled my way through the finish. I flew down the a lines and got my head in for one more lap. Then, a rider past me. He was going fast and I hadn't seen him yet, but my head was blurred and I didn't really think about it. I reached the finish and was waved down, learning that I had been lapped.
I was glad I had held a second place finish, but I wished for a better race. I wanted a real race and a fun race, but mountain biking throws things at you. I can't always have a perfect race and it was a great learning experience.