Updated: Jun 6
CLOSE THE GAP!!
All I knew is this is a fast, full gas race. I couldn't pre-ride the course but it was non technical, short up and downs twisting through the grass fields. Since it was my first ever UCI race and I didn't have any points, my name was called last to line up on the very back of the field of aprox. 30 women.
From the START to what I can remember it was really just full gas trying to keep up.
CLOSE THE GAP! That's what I wish would be the only command in my head.
All I could see was riders slowly fading and backing off, as I tried fighting to stay with the leading group. I eventually failed, not knowing to stay sharp and not trust any wheels, as many of them faded in front of me and I had to put out a huge effort to keep up.
After a while all I could do is go as hard as I can, when it was too late and I already lost the leading group. I managed to finish 7th.
Now the moment has come to ride 4 laps of the very course I was most afraid of. I was actually looking forward of facing this challenge and seeing experienced riders rush through it. Again, starting at the back I tried my best to work my way to the front to enter the first singletrack section with the leaders. It was a short climb on the grass, a turn and a little bit of flat doubletrack, when we entered the woods. By this time I was with the top 5. After someone crashed on a rocky "upstairs", rushing off and on the bike again shuffled the field. For the first two almost three laps I was fighting between places 6-9. I was busy trying to figure out how to handle my bike and ended up eating only half gel when I started fading.
I knew I had power but my ability to concentrate on the technical parts was going away. That's when I lost a couple more places as riders could be smart and ride corners well, while I feeling like riding in slowmotion was trying to not fall into fear or "tourism" mode. I had plenty additional to think about using the dropper post for the first times.
I was so happy I didn't crash at all but finished 11th. For sure I know it is not lack of power but rather technical skills that also cost way more energy when one cannot use momentum right. I posted on Instagram about how frustrated I feel not being able to use my power - It feels like in a dream when one is trying to sprint or run really fast but the legs feel numb and cannot move. But I am more and more optimistic that, putting in the work will get me there!
Anyways, I was thankful for the experience, to be able to join an experienced field of professional riders and great strong women! Also it was enough to earn some UCI points.
Sunday: WORS #2
Same course, different day. Today I would like to try to better my time and be more bold on the corners, since I had the morning to practice and warm-up, after Kyle (13, our oldest boy) was going to race Citizen at 9.30am for the first time in a while and Elite racing was at 12.30. I felt better on the bike and form the start of the race, with a smaller field and starting at the front. This time I reminded myself to eat more and concentrate to not "relax in the woods". The two leaders were strong and set a pace that I couldn't follow well in the single tracks. I sticked around 3-5, losing my motivation to fight more. I crashed when entering a rock garden because I took more speed then the rider in front of me.
Ability over power
After catching up and passing, creating a gap to riders behind, I crashed again on the other rock garden. Uff. When I rushed to get myself going I rolled my ankle. After that I managed to catch up to the chasing group of 3, but was never bold enough to stick with them and rather gave myself permission to find comfort in the 5th place. I knew I had the power but my technical skills wouldn't be enough. And so it was. The 1st place finished a minute earlier, followed by a couple seconds gaps. I was a bit disappointed again, but knowing that would happen, again, I couldn't "use my power", had plenty left and took it out for a ride and cooldown right after the race was over, trying to deal with my emotions and not letting punishing thoughts come through. Rather, recognize where to work on, be glad for what was possible and joyful for every women that joined and made the race.
Keep up with my journey and follow me on instagram: @gabriela9guerra
I'm looking foward to practice, see progress and put it out on races. View our race schedule for this year.
Feel free to comment and let me know about your experiences and thoughts!
Enjoy your bike,