From 100 miles to 25 miles all Races are Hard.

In the past few weeks I went from racing 100 miles at Shenandoah to racing 25 miles at my first MTB Collegiate race of the year and now 70 miles at Monster Cross. They all had great endings and were equally hard.

Shenandoah started off with a bang! Literally my alarm was a gong going off at 5 A.M. It was a muggy weekend and Scott and I slept in the van. We ended up keeping the door open on the van and battled the bugs because the heat was unbearable. Fortunately it seemed to have cooled up. I battled for my spot in the port-o-let line, drank a bunch of coffee, got dressed, got on the bike, and lined up for the race all before sunrise.

I got a good starting position and battled my way through the start on the road section. I knew from last year that getting into the single track in a good position was necessary. The bad thing about having the road as the start is that “roadies” get in front of you because yes they are stronger, but not necessary stronger at getting over rocks as fast you. There was a little bit of this battle, but for the most part I gave the person in front of me enough room to dab and get out of my way if need be.

Everything ended up running smoothly for the most part. I got a little bogged down on the descents, but there was nothing I could really do about that. I can’t expect everyone to have my thrill for speed right? I do wish they’d get the eff out of my way though! ๐Ÿ™‚ I thought a lot before passing but then I really was about to run the guy over, so I asked for the pass and took it. Shit! Is my tire flat??? Yes!! Go figure! Bad karma instantly comes to my mind.

I get off and immediately decide to put a tube in and not worry about it! Wait! Where is my seat bag? Not on my bike I’ll tell you that much! So dumb founded I start pumping air into my tire with my hand pump and waited til I saw someone that would help me. Scott wasn’t far behind so I forced him to pull over on the fun descent that he was doing well on and help me! Thank you Scott!! It turns out I left my saddle bag in the car. It never made it on to the bike! :/ That’s a major “My Bad” moment! You live and you learn.. Right!? I’m sure I won’t make that mistake again though!

The rest of the race went off with out a hitch! I climbed strong, was able to actually draft with a group of guys on the road section (which I have never gotten that lucky before) and was at the finish before I knew it. Don’t get me wrong in a hundred miles there was a lot of suffering and back and forth nausea, but it’s always good in those moments to suffer through, smile even when it’s not fun, and even laugh at how ridiculous you are for doing this heinous race. It makes the time go by faster if you try to ignore your pain. ๐Ÿ™‚

I ended up shaving twenty minutes off my time, I got to beat Scott for another year at Shenandoah, and got to STAND ON THE PODIUM BOX!! THIRD PLACE WOO HOO!!! Going into Shenandoah this year I just wanted to do as good as I did last year time wise and if it put me in the top five again that would be great, so to do better in both aspects I was beyond tickled.

Women's Open Podium
Women’s Open Podium

^^^^^Above is a link to the Kaysee & Scott show by Thom Parsons

After Shenandoah Scott an I went to Delaware to spend time with his mom and some of her nursing friends from Grad school. It was four days of catching up on school work, beach drinks, lots of smiles, casual bike riding, and pure relaxation! then we were on our way back to Johnson City, TN where I had my first collegiate race of the year at ETSU. Scott dropped me off Saturday morning at 7 and then he was off to Knoxville to work at the bike shop. First on the agenda for the day was the down hill. Cory Rimmer, my teammate at King, and I pre rode the course with no faults. Well except the fact I almost chickened out on the tiniest of rock drops after watching people crash. When we did the actual downhill race runs though Cory took three hard spills, and I slid out in the same section on both runs. The trails ended up being really wet and I would say all racers probably went down at one point during the course. The results aren’t posted, so we still don’t know how we did.

The second part of the day was the short track race in a field with a jump over a bike length’s of a ditch as a faster line in the race. During practice I watched at least five girls and many more men eat it. Literally their faces went into the ground after not pulling up enough and their front wheel diving down. I’m the type of person that I will ride almost anything with no second thoughts as long as no one is in front of me, or the person in front of me rides it. However, if I sit there and watch people taste the dirt I’m going to start second guessing myself. I followed LMC racer Cody Phillips into the jump during practice. Landed it fine, but the nose felt heavy on the ground. In my mind I barely made it. It was time to kit up for the race, and I had decided it was not worth getting hurt over a tiny jump I was going to do the ride around in the race.
King Cycling

Cory and I warmed up together, and I let him hear all about my not wanting to race the short track. Racing 25 minutes in a field did not seem appealing after having done Shenandoah six days before. I was afraid my legs would have no idea how to go that hard that fast. Then on top of that the jump had my head in a foggy mess. Why couldn’t I just ride it? Cory being the good teammate he is called my bullshit and told me we were going to do the jump right now ( his words were: All I’m hearing from you right now is your negativity Kaysee I know you have done way worse then that ), so we took off and I followed him right into the jump (this time actually putting an effort in pulling my front wheel up) and landed it perfectly with room to spare. My excitement over took me. I let out my southern woot!! Then was off to line up for the short track with a 100 % more confidence. A big thank you Cory!

My coach, Alan Sparks, told me at the line that I should take the starting right hand corner “tight”! Of course was my thought! We were off! I thought I should just try really hard to get out in front before the jump in case their is a girl that goes down, and that’s exactly what I did. I clipped in immediately and at mock speed the corner with a “close to knee dragging ground” lean. My coach and Cory told me afterwards they both had to look away they were sure I was about to go down! No worries guys! I got this! haha I put a big gap between me and second place and was able to hold it for the full race. The jump made the race phone for me and I finished first with a 40 sec gap! ๐Ÿ™‚

Next was four cross. I have never participated in this in my life. I even kept my saddle raised high because I was too tired to worry about it. Also I have never dealt with a “gate” start. I stumbled around in the qualifying lap before spending some time practicing it. Lindsey Wilson College has a group of serious BMX ladies that showed the rest of us how it is we are supposed to ride our bikes. Oh and that my MTB is not the best bike for a BMX track! haha ๐Ÿ™‚ I ended up getting 7th which was enough to get some points! Yaay! It’s so great to see so many ladies my age and younger out there riding all types of disciplines in biking and killing it.

Sunday morning was the Cross country race and fortunately the heat was gone and it was perfect racing weather. The ground was slick, and I knew going in that smooth was going to be fast. ETSU has a 6 mile loop that has steep climbs, tons of roots, and tech features that keep you busy. Saturday was a long day and I could feel it laying heavy on me Sunday. I knew though that Sarah Hill from Brevard had participated in all the activities the day before and I knew she was going to be the toughest competition of the day. Sarah is strong and she handles her bike as good or better than me. Getting in the woods first and getting away was my strategy. It worked well and I took the lead immediately and held on to it till the finish. Being off the front it’s hard to know if they are twenty seconds back or minutes back, and I found myself pushing it one minute and the next I felt myself settling in. Either way I finished first with some minutes to spare. I’m very happy with how the weekend went, and I look forward to more race weekends for collegiate. It’s always such a great atmosphere of racers that are competing against each other but are also very encouraging to one another whether we are on the same team or not.

Now to Monster Cross and all its hurting. I chose to ride my road bike, the Kona Zone 2, I felt that it was a more challenging ride, but I have really been enjoying riding the road bike on gravel roads in the past couple of weeks. Plus in Monster Cross half of the mileage is on the road. I started in the front this year with a great start. Last year I really had a hard time staying with the group on the road without running completely out of breath. This year I was able to stick with the front pack with ease and hit the first gravel climb with good speed. I’m not sure if I was in the front at this point or if Carey was actually in front of me and I just never saw her pull over and get the flat, and to be honest I thought she was in front of me because she is a beast and that was just my assumption. However when Scott caught me on the descent of the first gravel road he told me I was first and the excitement level spiked. Also the anxiety heightened! how am I going to maintain this for 60 more miles.

Riding Monster Cross

The gravel climbs at the beginning were not so bad and descents were fun on the Zone 2. I found myself intermingling with a lot of my friends at the beginning of the race. Back and forth with Scott Smith, Chris Joice, and Daniel Sanders helped me to keep a good pace. The climb up to from North Mills to the parkway was great, but once you get to the parkway it just becomes relentless for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles! Ah Stop!

For me I always suffer so much on races like this, meaning no single track, my brain stops working and I just want to be done I’m not having fun. However this year I have gotten good at wanting to suffer even on the gravel and road. Having the new Kona Zone 2 has really changed that for me. It is comfortable and having a road bike on a gravel descent just makes it a little bit more challenging and I like that! haha Going up the parkway I tried to keep my brain from sucking all my energy and motivation out of me. I tried not to let people pass me without trying to stick with them or keep them within sight and then on the flats/descents I would try to work with as many people as I could. I tried actually racing smart instead of just suffering and hating life till the finish. Also being on the parkway you get some of the most spectacular views and that helped my legs to loosen up.

I knew Carey was chasing me and I wondered just how long I could keep her off my trail, but towards the end of the parkway she caught me. We exchanged some smiles and kind words and went back to racing. She put in a hard effort but my road gearing became some trouble at this point with my legs getting tired I definitely wanted to have a smaller gear to spin. I at least tried to keep her in sight because I knew from the profile that the climb was almost done and on the descent I could catch her within reason. I could even see Carey catch Scott and wondered what they were discussing and how Scott was feeling. I ended up passing Scott pretty fast on a flat before the descent with my gears vs his single speed. I gave him a reassuring smile and woot, but I didn’t want to chat in case there was a chance I could catch Carey. I was right I descended the parkway possibly too fast passing some men on my way down and caught Carey right before we got to the left turn at the last aid station. Everyone stopped except Carey and I there was no way I was going to stop this close to the finish with having her right there. I took a few big pedal strokes and we decided to work together and see what happens at the end in case Brenda was catching us. This worked for like 10 minutes then Carey spun away from me. My legs were shot and they were not having that road gearing anymore on the steep climbs. We were close to the end and Carey gave me some encouraging words and all I could do was laugh because I did not have it anymore. There was hope I would be able to catch her again on the descent or the last bit of road section but it never happened. She won by a minute and a half. Which I have never finished that close to Carey in my life and when starting Monster Cross I did not think that this would be the race it would happen, actually I would say this would be the last race this was possible at. I surprised my self and finished with the biggest smile ever. Plus the rain held off for me to finish and I couldn’t be happier about that!

Blog Barriers pic

A big humongous shout out to Tennessee Valley Bicycles for always upgrading my bike for the better. I’m not always the most knowledgeable on what is needed for my bikes but Scott stays on top of it for me! I ended up getting a new rock shock fork and upgraded from 100mm of travel to 120mm travel and now I am in squishy heaven! Also for monster cross I got to run my Kona Zone two carbon road bike with cross tires because Kona is awesome enough to know that road racing bikes need the option to run wide tires! Thank you Kona!