What’s fun about MTBing for 60 miles and climbing 10,000ft? I’ll tell you What!

The Women's Open Podium
The Women’s Open Podium

ORAMM! WOW! That’s all got to say. Well only part of what I have to say really. I feel great about my performance and my personal improvement from last year is tremendous, 48 minutes faster tremendous! This was able to get me third in the Open women with being 15 minutes off first place, and then first in the Enduro (Which I Crushed, killed, and all of the above) with my best run down heartbreak ever! My only disappointment is that the camera guy wasn’t at the bottom of heartbreak to capture me cleaning the bottom section to redeem the photos that he took of me at the Pisgah Enduro completely eating it!

Here is the link to the ORAMM Video< https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxEPNN2gQxE >

ORAMM is officially the first race of this season for me. I took almost 6 weeks off of racing after Transylvania to get ready for September and everything that happens after that. It is one of the best decisions I have made is to rest for a little while and just enjoy some non racing rides on my bike. I was able to spend a week in Colorado with friends riding, and I’ve spent many hours and miles on my new Kona Zone Two Road Bike. Which believe it or not has been a lot of fun.

At the start of ORAMM I certainly felt the nervous jitters of not knowing how the day was going to go. I really wanted to put in a better time then last year, but I felt like last year was a great year for me and in my mind it seemed hard to beat. Also I had spent Saturday baking in the sun at the ORV road race volunteering then driving to North Carolina that night and not getting a good nights sleep. I just wasn’t sure how lively and robust I was going to feel. Which I actually ended up feeling great!

It’s no secret that gravel roads are not my fortay when it comes to MTBing, but I think knowing how much road and gravel there was going to be I mentally was prepared and did well. The race starts off climbing up a greenway style road from Old Fort to the start of Kitsuma trail. Kitsuma starts with a steep climb that has switch back after switch back. The biggest problem is at this stage of the race people that are great road climbers are in front of you walking because they are maybe not as good as you are on the single track. It’s all good though. I think everyone expects a little bit of a back up at this point. I got up the trail fairly well and actually passed some stragglers in front of me and had a great descent until I hit a pack of guys. The unfortunate thing about MTBing is that people are forceful and expectant of letting you pass them if they are behind you on the uphill, but when it comes to descending they would rather cause a jam of people. I have learned to expect it and it doesn’t bother me that much anymore, but for all those that are new to experiencing it you best get used to it!

After kitsuma there is the climb up Heartbreak ridge to the star gap descent. All this went more then smoothly for me. I was able to get in a good spot on the uphill for the descent and only spent the last few seconds being jammed up. At this point there is no more descending till you get to Heartbreak the second time around. Tons of gravel rolling climbs and descents all the way to where Curtis Creek Climb starts. This is where it pitches up and becomes relentless. Last year I remember passing a lot of people on this climb, and I wanted to do the same thing this year. I wanted to even see some improvement. The first 1/2 mile I ended up getting passed and I could feel my brain start going to it’s dark gravel part of the brain.

I ended up taking a deep breath, started thinking about purely making it to heartbreak as soon as I could. Before I knew it I started passing people again and was at the parkway in no time. Unfortunately when you make it to the parkway you still have a lot of climbing to go. I ended up riding with a guy and we both took turns pulling at a good pace. We passed over 10 others. Before we got to heartbreak I had decided that I was going to race the enduro. It is like I got a second wind or something because the hike up to Heartbreak I got in front of the other guy and put the bike on my back and hiked away from him. That way I didn’t have to worry about getting around him on the descent. When the descent started it was pure bliss.

The last time I did heartbreak was at the Pisgah Enduro and I wish I could have rode the Pisgah enduro as fast as I was at ORAMM. It didn’t even feel like the same descent. Maybe having done all that gravel and road climbing my bike and I were ready for some fun. All the guys in front of my would let me pass pretty fast. I think having the I9 hubs buzzing up on you fast will force you over. There are two big kickers on heartbreak that are hard to climb so I climbed as far as I could before getting off and running up the rest. My heart rate had to be well close to 200 and I honestly had not given that sort of effort at all during ORAMM. I was determined to get that win on the enduro section.

Here I am descending part of Heartbreak
Here I am descending part of Heartbreak

The whole way down heartbreak passing all those guys was for sure one of that happiest moments of my life. Then to top it off I cleared the bottom section like a champ. When I crossed the enduro finish I knew I won. Blue Ridge Adventures wanted me to wait a couple of days though before I really would know. This made the news even more exciting because all day on Monday I kept telling myself I could have just been behind a ton of slow men and it just made me feel fast. No! I was first by a long shot, 6:33 to be exact. Also to top it off out of over 400 riders I ended up getting 7th overall. I beat Scott by over a minute, which he is the person I always try to just hang onto on the descents. Needless to say I had a great run this day. Did I mention I didn’t even have a seat post dropper this time! I did miss it though!

After Heartbreak the race is not over there is still another gravel climb back to Kitsuma, where you have to climb all the way back up. It’s always the hardest part for me. You know you are slower the second time around and you don’t even have people in front of you getting in the way to blame it on. I had given everything I had on Heartbreak so I was in survival mode to the finish were I finished with a time of 6:12. Woo Hoo!! 3rd in the Open Women category!

The biggest thing that helped me at this race is to ditch the Wingnut. I personally cannot stand using it anymore. I have given it more then enough chances to love it, but I hate it ALOT! I think a lot of it has to do with I am not big enough to wear it so it just slings all over my body and I’m constantly having a battle with it. Instead I have been using an undershirt with a bladder pocket sewed on. It makes me look like I grew a hunch back but the comfort level is tremendously different.

Also my Nox Composites wheels are one of my favorite things on the bike right now. The stiffness is incredible. I can take turns without feeling the wheels flex in, and just even being able to ride over rocks, drops, and roots like there is nothing there is simply amazing!

So what’s so fun about all of this!? First off, the descent down Heartbreak put a smile on my face for days. Second, it makes your beer taste at least 50% better after you finish. Lastly, the endorphins last for 48 hours. You can’t get that from an elliptical or a Sunday filled with watching football or Nascar. Trust me!