NO Apologies! team members, Rheannon, myself (ZimZam), and Soso represented at this years Mudslinger. We had two podium finishes and 1 happy upgrade to the longer loop (Cat 2). The morning started early with volunteering at registration, followed by a quick change, a lightning speed warm up and a one mile group ride to the start line. And there is where this years Mudslinger began….we all started together in the same women’s group, you could feel the nervous energy of the first race of the season. We were off with a 30 second countdown, Rheannon and I stayed together for the first couple of miles, it felt good to be racing again and to be riding in my old backyard. As we progressed uphill though I couldn’t keep her pace, and I slowly fell back. I kept Rheannon in view for a bit and then the pink jersey became a small dot before it disappeared. My first goal was met, stay with her as long as I could, and then race my race, and as long as I could keep a decent pace I knew I would finish, and not finish last.
There we were, riding and jostling for position. Looking for the position you most likely will maintain during the race, you usually end up leapfrogging with people. This results in riding with a group familiar faces by the end of the race. I settled in and was happy to keep picking people off. Races for me are funny, I scream going uphill and I am always caught by the slow climbers on the downhill, it seems to be a good equalizer. The first major uphill was a virtual mudslide, and it had some walkers already in progress. I was never going to make it up and past 3 walkers, so I dismounted and fell into the uphill walk. This is where I lost time, a lot of time. I knew though if I could get up the hill, back on my bike and put my feet to the pedals I could make up some of the lost time. All I could do was just keep pedaling, the course played to my strengths of climbing and singlestrack, so I focused on those and let the rest go. Most importantly I still felt really good and was happy to be riding, I wasn’t dying or wanting to throw my bike off a cliff. The only times I get really nervous in a race is if I don’t see any other riders for awhile, that happened more than twice but I eventually caught up with other riders. In the back of my head I was hoping one of those riders would be Rheannon, but no such luck. I did fall back with the group I had been leapfrogging, and we were near the entrance of the Panama Canal I got in front and took off, disappointingly it was the readers digest version of the Panama Canal, as soon as it started it was done. I was so looking forward to that section, its technically challenging, some great single track and just enough off camber to make it fun. I knew we were getting close to the turn off to head of the road, and if I could conserve enough energy to get up the road quickly my race would be done. Once we made the turn to the road I shifted into the large ring and took off. And yes I did use a few groups along the way for a pull, but it was up to me to stay in front of them. And that I did, I finished by myself at 2hrs. I was scanning for Rheannon, I knew she had finished and in the back of my head I did wonder how far off her time I had finished. It ended up being 8 minutes, and a great motivator to know what things I need to work on to stay with her. So 2 of No Apologies had finished, we waited anxiously for Soso.
We were excited to hear how her race had gone, and if she felt like the long course was a good decision. We of course believe the longer you are on your bike, the better. But I am sure not everyone feels the same. She looked great as she crossed the line, and decidedly was glad she had done the long course. We were excited to have the first race with multiple No Apologies! in the books, we were officially a team. We finished, had some fun, and came out unscathed. All of that equal success in my book. As we stuffed our faces with food we recounted our experiences and waited for results.
I was hoping for top 10, and not last place. They have WebScorer, which gives live results, and as people cross the line the results are continually changing. So there I was in the open women category looking at a 3rd place finish, I thought it was for surely a mistake, so we waited, everybody was in and they were updating and getting people into the correct categories. Strangely I was still 3rd, unbelievable I thought to myself. During all of this 3rd place uncertainty in my mind we checked Rheannon’s results, she was first in her age category for women. It then started to sink in, we really are badass. I was 3rd and she was 1st, and Soso made an upgrade to Cat 2, it couldn’t have been a better Sunday.