Monday, September 17, 2007

From Wisp to Michaux

Wisp Downhill Clinic with Hillary:
Disciple of Gravity

While Marla Streb might be the Gravity Goddess, Hillary Elgert is most certainly the disciple of women’s gravity sports. It may not roll off the tong like “Gravity Goddess”, but her role in promoting women’s gravity sports in the mid-Atlantic is equally as impressive. This past weekend Hillary hosted a downhill clinic up at Wisp Ski Resort in the north western most reaches of Maryland. The clinic included a total of eight women with a rather large range of experience and ability. Her love of the sport is most apparent when she is supporting and encouraging other women to press their limits and become a more confident rider. It is an honest enthusiasm she has to see other women come to love the sport she has immersed herself in for over a decade now. Most likely, she will not rest until she has spread the word of gravity sports to all women in the mid-Atlantic.

Thanks Hillary for all your hard work and dedication! It has not gone unnoticed!

Michaux Race Series: The Terror of Teaberry
Race Report

Perhaps I should begin this race report with the night before. I returned home form Hillary’s downhill clinic feeling a bit sleep deprived. Rather than preparing for the next day’s race, I decided to take a quick little nap. This was to be my first mistake. Seven hours later I awoke feeling panic stricken…I knew I was supposed to be preparing for something, but I couldn't manage to figure out what day it was. I slowly came to my senses and realized it was 5am on Sunday morning and I needed to get myself up and out for a 10 am start time two hours away. But first I needed to figure out exactly where the racing was to start. This was a rather tricky task as the Internet we have been poaching for over a year now up and disappeared! So, at about 5:30am I shuffled down to my truck with my laptop and drove to Adam’s Morgan where I poached one of the many Internet connections that pour generously from the surrounding businesses and fancy apartments. Saving the directions to my laptop, I drove back home, got packed, printed out the directions, made two pots of coffee, ate breakfast and stared into space as I contemplated finding my way back to the warmth of my bed. Finally I climbed back into my truck at 7:20am and headed off for Michaux State Forest.

Never have I started a race with such a dirty bike, it was a little embarrassing. I tried to give it a quick rubdown before the race started. At least make the down tube look clean and lube the chain! Honestly, I know better than to start a race with a junked up bike. I got in a quick warm-up and choked back as much Odwalla bar as I could manage….it was going to be a long day. I opted for the 25 miler, which on any other course may not be a big deal….but these are 25 Michaux miles. It is about a 2:1 ratio of normal trail miles to Michaux trail miles . What I’m trying to say is that a mile in Michaux is equivalent to 2 miles in the normal world of mountain bike racing. In other words…there are some hairy ass trails out there. Oh, and then there is the famous Michaux method of trail building. Constructing a trail in Michaux consists of clearing away some brush and then running a race on it and voila, by the end of the day you have a trail!

There were actually more women at the start than I anticipated. I think I counted about six. I got an awesome start, and took off right from the beginning with tunes from the new Amy Winehouse album echoing through my brain…yeah, I know, kind of an odd race soundtrack, but it works for me, so I go with it. I got such a good start that I started to worry that perhaps I started with the wrong group. (note: as a rule, something screwy happens to me at every Michaux race) I was pretty sure they mixed the women with the masters men…right? Where was that Sue lady? She’s crazy strong…she should be up here with me! Well, about 30min later she passed me. As sorry as I was to be passed by her I was equally as happy to know that I had started with the correct group. At about that time I realized that my fork had been locked-out. Wow, that was pretty dumb! I thought the ride felt a little more rough than usual. Once I unlocked my fork and was certain that I had indeed started with the right group I was ready to settle in for the remaining miles of glorious, technical, rocky single track.

It must have been about half way through the race when I came across an especially hairy rock garden. Woohoo! This is where I shine! Drop the hammer! Indeed, I dropped the hammer so hard I busted my ass and on the way down managed to break the lever on my front brake. Oh well, brakes only slow you down anyway. The day wore on, I got super hungry, the Shot Blox I wolfed down had some how created an adhesive substance on my gloves that now bonded my left hand to my handlebar. This was actually a good thing as it prevented me from grabbing at my now non-existent front brake. I new I was in second place and I kept looking over my shoulder for fear of catching a glimpse of another member of the female gender. Out of sight, out of mind; if the third place woman could see me…I was toast. Fortunately, I managed to hang onto second place all the way to the finish line. And the best part was that my shoulder didn't hurt much at's been a longer recovery than I expected (refer to gwadzilla's blog for full story

Wew, what a day! It’s such a good feeling to arrive at the finish line with nothing left. That is the Michaux promise. That is what we all pay for, the opportunity to run yourself into the ground, push your limits, bust your ass and at the end of the day, hang around with your friends and talk about how you ran yourself into the ground, pushed your limits and busted your ass.

Yes, it was a good day at the races. I’m not sure what the time splits were…but either way, I was second and my shoulder is doing much better and that’s all that matters. My friend Michelle and I chatted like school girls until the parking lot was almost completely was the end of another Michaux Race Series. Can't wait for next year!

Oh yeah, and as it turns out the course was actually 32 miles.
(sorry, I forgot to take pictures)

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