Elite Junior Kira Segenchuk returned to mountain bike racing this weekend for the first since breaking her collarbone last summer and rode to a successful second place.
This weekend a combination of prom and my brother and dad’s love of mountain biking meant a mountain bike race was on the schedule instead of a road race. Having not ridden a mountain bike since crashing and breaking my collarbone last summer, I spent Friday and Saturday remembering how to ride a mountain bike before the race on Sunday. I raced the cat 2 junior women’s race at the Fat Tire Classic at Winding Trails which had a small field of only three girls besides myself—Lauren Powers, Liza Bell, and Bethany Newton—all of whom I’d also raced against in ‘cross. The course was about 5 miles long and we did 3 laps. The course wasn’t very technical (which suits me just fine); the first half had more uphills, while the second half was more technical and had more downhills.
When the race started I stayed in a group with Liza and Lauren until the first uphill. I had not pre-ridden the course, and so the steep uphill came as a surprise. That combined with one of the racers from a previous race still on the course getting in my way meant I had to dismount part way up the hill and run the rest of the way up. By then Liza and Lauren had gapped me. It took me about half the lap to catch back up to and pass Lauren, but when I finished the first lap, Liza had about a minute on me.
I had forgotten that eating during races was a thing, and so hadn’t packed myself food. During the second lap I started to really feel the effects of not eating. I decided to focus on going at a pace that would guarantee I was not too exhausted for a third lap but was also not too slow that Lauren might catch back up to me. Part way through the lap one of the cat 3 junior men racers was on my wheel; I was slower than him on the technical stuff but faster on the uphills and straightaways. I felt bad being in his way on the technical sections so he kept me motivated to go hard on the uphills and straightaways so I would gap him a little before the technical sections and wouldn’t be as much in his way.
Finishing the second lap, someone yelled to me that I was catching up to Liza, but I just assumed it was meaningless encouragement. Half way through the lap I was pleasantly surprised to catch glimpses of Liza. I pushed hard and caught up with her, and followed on her wheel for the rest of the race. She was better at the technical stuff and downhills than me, and on the last steep downhill before the finish she gapped me a little and beat me by a few seconds. It was a fun race and showed me that although I’ve barely rode on the mountain bike this year, I should be ready for the upcoming NEHSCA races.