This was my 3rd consecutive time doing the Salty Dog 6hr enduro Mountain Bike race in Salmon Arm. My first attempt as a gong show. I was so worked up the night before that I didn't sleep... I felt sick to my stomach and really my nerves were just shot. I wasn't exactly what you would call a 'mountain biker' 3yrs ago. I was someone who wanted to be a mountain biker and hung out with friends who were mountain bikers but I was a really poor rider and didn't spend much time on my bike and hence, saw little improvements. Trent and I signed up for a 100 mile mountain bike race called the Cascade Cream Puff in 2009 and the Salty Dog would have been my first bike race ever. Well, I got in two laps and on my third lap wrapped my rear derailleur on a stump and I was done. Probably a good thing because I was so spazzy in the first place that year. And Trent broke his ankle 2 weeks before the 100 mile race so we never did end up going and I barely touched my bike after June that year.
Despite the rough start to the race scene, I came back for more punishment in 2010. This time Trent and I signed up for an 8 day stage race called the BC Bike Race. So I set my goal on the solo event and Trent and I rode our laps together to try to simulate what riding together would feel like for our upcoming race. Thanks to Trent and our friends David and Monica Nelson, I actually did learn to ride a MTB in spring of 2010 and Salty Dog 1 year later was a totally new experience. I didn't start out so spazzy... didn't carry 3/4 of the race jitters forward and was focused on my goal of 6 laps. Which Trent and I accomplished. I finally felt like a 'mountain biker.'
This year was a mix of both years. I got a new bike and only got two rides in before this year's Dog. I was feeling a bit nervous about the course and didn't sleep well the night before. Woke up with some anxiety around the descent and generally was feeling a little 'off'. Trent rode the first two laps, then I rode the next two laps. I started off spazzy again and my heart rate was off the charts. But I did manage to settle into the ride, despite my heart rate not coming down much. I rode hard and gave each lap my honest effort. The descent was a non-issue and I thought how stupid for me to get worked up over it when it all ended up going so well. It just came back to me and I descended well and with very little time on my brakes, felt fast.
When I finished the two laps I was ready for a break and Trent headed back out for two more. In the meantime, I had been riding around with Carter. Watched his 1hr Salty Pup race and laid on the blanket and snuggled, ate watermelon etc... and without realizing it, got my head out of the race a little too much. Not that it was a bad thing... but when Trent came in on our 6th lap, I didn't feel like going back out again. So he didn't hesitate and went out for his 5th lap!! I was so proud of him and as it turned out, thanks to him sucking it up for us - we came 7th in our category.
All'n'all it was a fun family day and I enjoyed doing the team for a change but recognized that pre-riding the course is important to me and needs to be a priority for future years if I want to be competitive. It will help calm my nerves and get me focused prior to the event. For this year, however, I was proud of Trent for carrying the load and doing such a great job on 5 laps. Proud of Carter for his 3rd year and this was the first year I got to watch his race because we weren't out racing. And just generally happy to get some fitness in and build off my week and a hard 3hr training run the day before in Wild Horse Canyon with the PACE group.
Good friends and fellow riders to hang out with and of course, the traditional ice-cream stop on the way home :)