Because the Coast Hills classic is upon us this coming weekend, I thought I write a little story about the race that started it all for me. I had been in Corvallis only about 9ish months, my first months riding were done alone on my cross bike, with Pandora blaring, and Strava. I knew no one that rode. My claim to knowing the Mac so well is that I rode most of those trails by myself, on my cross bike the wrong way and usually in the rain. So I continued on this way and figured eventually you always meet people that ride, and really you can’t be too picky. You have to throw yourself out there and start meeting people and riding and see what happens. So that is what I did, it was a women’s spring group ride in Blodgett. I threw myself out there, met some great gals, and met Rheannon and SoSo. And so my days of riding my crossbike the wrong way with Pandora blaring and Strava recording every inch of where I had been were in the rearview mirror. I had made riding friends, let the adventure riding begin. So from that day forward we rode, and we rode long, and to new places on mountain bikes the correct way on the trails, in the sun. It was blissful, and I was so excited to have riding friends. Racing season was just around the corner, I had honestly never thought of myself as a mountain bike racer. I raced cyclocross, commuted a lot, and just rode a mountain bike for fun. Its funny in life who you cross paths with that change your thoughts and ideas about things. After a few months of riding with my new friends I started feeling like “yea I could race”. Rheannon had her spring and summer mostly dialed with races, training schedules, nutrition and goals. I was in awe, we started riding more elevation than I had thought humanly possible, riding often, and riding long miles. And then she asked if I was going to to race the Coast Hills Classic, and I think I laughed. I had already bypassed the Mudslinger on a count of it being too muddy, and I am not sure how thats much different than cyclocross but it is. And now with the Coast Hills Classic a week away I had to make a decision, but my saving grace was that I could register day of so I didn’t have to commit until that day. As the week drew to a close, we had talked about it and were both in. Then the early morning text, Rheannon was out. I was torn, it was going to be really easy to sleep in, oh and it was raining. All good reasons to stay where I was, in bed. But no, I got up got my things together loaded up and was off to the coast for the day. It rained the whole way there, and it didn’t let up. I thought who in there right mind gets up early on a Sunday, drives an hour to race in the rain, and pays money. Well, I suppose I am now that person. I got there and found where I needed to be when, parted with my money and I was officially registered. So there I was warming up in the rain, I rolled to the startline when they called. It was a sea of people and I was able to get close to the group I would start with. I looked around and positioned myself at the back of the group, I figured that was the safest place. I thought to myself I am way outta my league and I had no back up, it was just me. These gals were serious and the talk was of times, and past races. All I could think was please dont let me finish last, and please let me finish in one piece…and then we were off, and those girls were off like cruise misiles. It was all I had to just to get up the road to get to the trailhead, then I thought I have 19 more miles to warm up why am I killing myself. I settled in, and enjoyed the ride. The trail was muddy, and it would suck you in. There were grassy uphills I regained time, and forest roads led you into more muddy singletrack. It was a 2 lap race to make 20 miles, so the advantage I had was I had already ridden the first lap so I knew what to expect. Lap 2 was a little faster and way more fun. The rain never let up and it was a mudfest, I finished smiling and my bike was well preserved in a thick layer of mud. Oh, and I finished 2nd to last, in one piece. So I had achieved the goal I had set forth for myself. It turned out this race started it all, a year later I now have more goals, training schedules and a few races on the horizon for this season.