I survived MTB Nationals at Bear Creek

I survived MTB Nationals at Bear Creek. I think I need a t-shirt that says that.

I’m having an odd set of very mixed emotions post-MTB Nationals. As I sit here drinking coffee through a straw and hoping that my front teeth don’t eventually die and fall out of my head, I can’t decide if my race was the ultimate failure or success. A lot of people have been commenting that the course was just too hard. Isn’t it supposed to be hard? If I can do it, I’m not really sure people have much room to complain.

The day started out kind of in that “I can’t believe I am really here” sort of way when Richard Fries called us each up to the start line individually and introduced us. I was totally geeking out over that. My first lap started as expected. I hung towards the back because I do a better job to follow than to be followed, especially on technical trails. I was really nervous, but riding ok. I was clearing almost all of the technical stuff, with the exception of a few places I planned to run, but it wasn’t always pretty. I finished my first lap in about 56 minutes, which was better than I expected. By lap 2 I was feeling better, more confident, and riding smoother than before. As I approached the rocky section leading up to the switchbacks, I took a different line than before, went over a drop that I wasn’t quite prepared for, and went over the bars onto my face. Out of all the things to land on, I don’t recommend your face.

I did this right where there were the most spectators out on the course. I got up and asked if I still had teeth and how bad was it? Local pro rider Harlan Price was the first person to come over to help, but at the time, I didn’t quite recognize him and could only think how he looked familiar and I was pretty sure I knew him from Michaux MTB School. I was soon surrounded by other people telling me to sit down, and asking my name and what day it was, and offering me both water and beer. My teeth felt weird, but they were still there. I was bleeding, but not a lot. Harlan took my bike up the trail and got the medics. The medics told me that once they helped me, my race was over. They asked if anything else was hurt and seemed surprised when I said no. I felt ok, pictured the finishing arch, and knew that I was close enough to make it out. I declined help from the medics and was on my way after a quick check for a concussion and chugging a beer. Ok, just kidding on the beer, but in hindsight, that would have probably made for a better end to my race. I’ll remember that for next time.

I ran through the rest of the section of rocks, and got behind a girl who was struggling a bit, which made me feel better knowing I had cleared that section several times before even though I was running now. I ran through the switchbacks and assured people who asked that I was ok. I was on and off my bike the last mile or so of the course. I was badly shaken, but fine otherwise. I cleared a few tricky sections, which was a good confidence boost post-crash.

I finished. So that was good. I’m not sure what place I was in. Possibly last, but also possibly not. I probably should have checked the results to make sure they at least had my finish, but I was a little overwhelmed. I went to the Ski Patrol station for ice as my lip was swelling to a huge size. As I was standing outside with my parents, husband, and friends, Harlan stopped by to see how I was. He admitted that before I had so much dirt on my face that he couldn’t really tell if I had teeth or not.

The Wicked Wash guys had a shower set up. Yes, a shower. It was glorious. The Wicked Wash guys are quickly becoming my favorite people to see at races. I’m also not sure how they get my bike so clean, because I am never able to duplicate their results with my own stash of Wicked Wash.

We stuck around for the Pro Women’s race and the start of the Pro Men. But I was really feeling out of it and the heat was setting in much stronger than earlier in the day. Eating was a challenge with my sore teeth, so I was avoiding it and not feeling great.

On the way home we stopped at Longacre Modern Dairy and I had a milkshake. I’m not sure where I would be today without that milkshake.

2 thoughts on “I survived MTB Nationals at Bear Creek

  1. Way to push through til the end, Karen!! I am glad to read that you are ok and that your teeth are still in your head.

  2. Wow. Rough day but amazing that you finished. good job. If your teeth fall out you have to come over and take a picture with Ben, since he knocked his tooth out this summer. But they won’t.

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