Riding lifts is easy they said, you won't get tired they said... YA. RIGHT! Gnarly, fast, jumpy, rooty, are just a few words I would use to describe the courses at Keystone. This was my first multi day enduro and I was both nervous and excited! We got to town on Thursday and were only able to ride 3 of the 6 stages in the afternoon due to time and tiredness. The stages were long! In practice we were stopping on average 3 times per run! Meanwhile I was trying to figure out how I was going to race these stages non-stop. Unlike a lot of stages where there is time to rest, Keystone felt like I needed to be on my game the whole way down! My friend Lani and I went out for a run down stage 3 which would be the last stage on Saturday and also the most pedally stage of the weekend. The top of the trail was pretty straight forward until the bottom quarter where things got a little more tech. Helter, a steep narrow entrance into a tight left hand switchback got the best of my nerves and I could not commit to making the corner. Unfortunately this uncertainty left me with a nice bruise on my thigh and busted confidence. Lani and I met up with Phil and took a confidence building run and got things back in order. Thanks Phil! Your the BEST!
Friday morning we woke up, did some work, and then headed to Keystone around 11 a.m. I hadn't planned on riding for the rest of the day in hopes to get some needed rest before the race but things don't always work out the way you want them to. With the stages being long and technical I wanted to make sure that I had ridden each stage confidently before the start on Saturday. We were able to ride the rest of the 3 stages, I was feeling good but nervous. These stages had far more jumps than I am used to, and also a few drops (which I am still working on). We rode until about 5 and headed back to our friends house to make some dinner.
Race Day 1: AH! I have never really been nervous for an enduro race before but I think this one was a little outside my comfort zone so I had a tough time sleeping. We headed to Keystone and got the bikes out and number plates on. We were ready to race! Unlike most enduros I have done this one we rode the lift up to the top and started up there! My goal for the weekend was to keep it up right and have fun! We started down stage 1 which was fast with large jumps! I made it down clean with my arms shaking at the bottom! Maybe I should do some more strength training. Stages 2 and 3 were a success as well, keeping it rubber side down. Before we knew it day 1 was OVER and we were eating BBQ hanging out at the bottom! I ended day 1 in second place behind Anne (she is REALLY fast and SUPER fun to race with!)
Day 2: Feeling a little tired and sore I got on the lift and headed to the top for day 2. We started on a short course which had a fairly technical rock garden in the middle which I had ridden once in practice. My run started off slow and conservative in the jump/drop section which we had also raced day 1 (and I almost crashed on in practice) and made it through the rock garden, sprinted for the finish and stage 4 was done! My nerves always seem to calm down a bit after the first stage is complete which I am thankful for! We did a short transfer stage up to the start of stage 5. I was excited for stage 5 because it was mostly rooty corners with a steep rocky section into a bridge near the bottom of the stage. I made it to the bottom and was thankful that there was only 1 stage left because I was pretty sure my arms might actually fall off! A quick lift to the top and time for a snack and some water, we were off down stage 6. I ran through the stage one more time in my head. Reminding myself of the names of the trails because I had not ridden this stage top to bottom yet. 3.2.1. go! And I was off down the final stage. Made it clean around the drop and through the rock garden around some corners and onto TNT? PANIC PANIC PANIC TNT was NOT on the stage 6 map! Did I miss a turn? I didn't think I blew any tape? How could I have missed a turn? A slowed for a second trying to run through scenarios in my head and decided it would be best to keep going. PHEW!!! A few more seconds down the trail I started to see people taking pictures and spectating and knew I must be going the right way. Finished the run on Sanitarium (rough, STEEP narrow bridges, roots, tight corners) and was thankful to make it through the weekend on two wheels! I found out later that TNT was evidently also labeled Holy Diver on the map and I was not the only one who thought they were going the wrong way! I ended the weekend in a solid second place!