Despite the title of this report, the West Championships Xterra was again a battle between Jamie Whitmore and I, but a very unfriendly non-gentleman decided to put himself between us during the bike segment of the race, and then personally attack me after the race, so this story has a bit of spice. Jamie won the Big Bear Xterra this year again, and as much as I freaking HATE second, I did do well having had a solid race winning the bike prime and putting up a fight until about the last 3.5 miles of the race, so I feel like things are right on track for the last two races of the season. This was a good race, so read on to get the story….
I was in Boulder training with my friends Tim and Michelle the week before the West Championships, a little time to suffer with no air and enjoy some beautiful riding. I had some good training in the area, including the suffering at Boulder Peak, and I flew on Thursday into Phoenix to visit my other friends Jerry and Erin, planning to then continue on to Big Bear on the Friday.
Unfortunately, none of my luggage arrived in Phoenix on Thursday nite (the plane was broken and delayed as well, my second time flying Denver to Phoenix having bad planes, I don’t want to fly that route anymore) and my beautiful K2 T:Nine bike arrived (without my other bag) with horribly bent rotors and an ugly scratch in my wicked paint job. Bummer! Luckily Tom at Tommy-O bikes in Scottsdale did a wonderful job of fixing the bike since Shimano hooked me up with emergency stuff, and I had a nice swim in a $4 bathing suit from Old Navy, but by the time the rest of my stuff arrived I realized I was exhausted and couldn’t drive 5 hours to the mountain. I decided to hang out, do an e-stim session with my Compex unit, recover, and get up really early in the morning to do the drive to Big Bear Mountain.
So Saturday morning I hit the highway and arrived at Big Bear, perfectly missing a huge storm which soaked the course. I did my clinic, discussing that tire choice was key (Maxxis Larson TT once again) and I was so glad to have a great group waiting until 3pm to come, then rode the course and the run course (I was slower on my bike than in the race on the run course) and then have dinner… my day started at 6am and I got off my bike at 6:30pm. I was tired.
Luckily my friends Chris and Nicole hooked me up with a place to stay on the mountain, as the race started at 8am. My original plan was to stay with my favorite host family in Yucaipa, the McClintocks. But the hour long drive added to the many hours in the car just wasn’t happening, so I stayed in a nice cabin right at the resort and was good to go.
5:15am came around very quickly, and I was not hungry but I was excited to race. There were two transitions, a bike to run transition at the lifts on the mountain, and a swim to bike transition down by the water. So I set up the run stuff, rolled down the mountain, body marked and threw my wetsuit on. I really wanted to try and swim a longer warmup and see if it helped. NO bike warmup except rolling to T1.
The water at Big Bear is absolutely horrible. It is a muddy, swampy mess. One hilarious guy draped himself entirely with tons of the seaweed and then with his arms up like the swamp thing walked towards the crowd saying "I am not an animal!" – maybe you had to be there.
Anyway, started, had an ok first lap of the swim, then died at 6800 feet, saw that Jamie had passed me, cursed myself, tried hard but went slow on the second lap, then got out to the bike. It only took me a couple miles to move into second and then the battle was on between Jamie and I. We switched the lead back and forth and kept a good pace on the bike and in the process distanced ourselves from the rest of the field. Then this is where the drama occurred.
3 Sports has been kind enough to put up a bike prime for each Championship race, so whoever has the fastest bike split gets a little $200 bonus, which is nice! So since Jamie beat me out of the water, and I assumed we were leading the field for bike speed, I figured as long as I came into T2 with Jamie, I had the prime. I did not have the legs to do any attacking. The descent on Big Bear is about 7 minutes after climbing for about 30, so it is very fast, there is one fast line, and there is a low margin of error. So when we came into the last descent, we went through some first lap racer traffic, and Jamie and I got a bit seperated. When I closed the gap, a male racer on his second lap got between us. He was going pretty good, but was gapping from Jamie consistently. So I asked him to let me by so I could stay on her wheel. He would not. I asked him about 4 times, and tried to explain the prime and whatever, but no. So we came in as a trio, him in between us, transitioned to run, I left first. All is well that ends well, him not moving did not affect our race.
I had about a mile and then I was hurting. This straight up stuff is no good when you aren’t top run form, so I fell off the pace at about 8000 feet and had to settle for second. No worries. I was also concerned since I rolled my ankle less then two weeks prior and the course was really rough and the last thing I needed was a broken ankle before the finals. Whatever, chalk another win to Jamie and we’ll meet again.
But the DRAMA is that after the race I went up to the guy that came between us to APOLOGIZE for asking him to move and tried to explain the prime. To which he responded by SWEARING at me, ATTACKING me, calling me names and saying hurtful things like "I knew she was going to beat you on the run so I figured it didn’t matter" and "your reputation precedes you" etc, etc…
First of all, I was apologizing to someone who chose to allow his racing to potentially affect our race when he could have let me by, stayed on my wheel and allowed us to race each other. Second of all, I was not the one cursing or freaking out, I was trying to be nice on the bike, and nice after, and he just lay into me without hesitation. I appreciate that he wants to race his hardest, and had he had some guy in his category breathing down his neck, it would have been one thing. To wedge yourself between number 1 and 2 of the pro women’s race is not nice. Friends of mine might remember that because of men in Tahoe last year I was pushed off the trail, into the sand and lost 30 seconds when I fell off the bike and lost contact with Jamie over the top…. come on guys… let us race!
I was surprised to hear this unfriendly, unsportsmanlike character is captain of the Landis Cyclery triathlon team. This outburst attacking me occurred in front of ALL the finishers at Big Bear and he was loud.. Afterward, Conrad Stoltz told me the same guy would not give way on the descent for him at Keystone as well. Not a good way to represent your sponsors, and not a good way to conduct yourself in this sport amongst fellow racers.
This is just one guy amongst a ton of fun, excellent people. I was so excited to talk to girls who went to my clinic and finished their races and told me how tips I gave them helped them through the day. This is the best feeling ever, and helped get over mean Landis guy.
So I am 10 points down going into Tahoe end of September, and as expected, whoever wins Tahoe takes the series. I am ready!
Thanks to my coach Houshang Amiri, my Boulder training partner Tim, my hosts Erin, Chris and Nicole, and Tommy O bikes for the emergency bike resuscitation. Thanks to Sharon at Saucony for the cheering, to Saucony USA, K2 Bikes, CompexTechnologies, Maxxis, Ford, Powerbar, Sundog Eyewear, Shimano, Giro, Descente, Hypoxico, Arq Salon, Rider’s Cycles, Deuter and Pacificsport.
Mel’s form is coming around….. and it is just going to get better.