UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships 2015
Words by Sarah Riley
Today was the best day of my life!
With a three week turn around from finding out I had qualified to race the biggest race of my life and to being ready to go on the start line has been whirl wind! And girls to think you are safe standing in the feed zones supporting your partners don't be fooled, as that is where I started! From "bottle bitch", as we so lovingly refer to it in the mountain bike family, to World Championship Mountain Biker. Sounds insane I know but that is honestly where it all began. I was so good in the feed zone, the best support you could imagine but then one day I decided being the women behind the man wasn't enough. Why couldn't I do the same? So began my journey. . . Please continue to read the rest of my story....
Yesterday on the start line I was not nervous as this is what I had been striving for in the last couple of years. I was nothing but proud to be representing my country and with 60km and 3,400m elevation gain I was ready to lay it all out there! Don't get me wrong, I knew 3 weeks preparation was going to be pushing it but such was my determination that I was going to line up at the World Championships ready! I was under no illusions that I was going to pull a top 10, 20 or even top 40 position. My readiness was knowing that I was there not to prove a point to others but to prove to myself that I was capable of this type of immense challenge and I was going to defeat this course as grueling as it sounded.
As soon as the gun went I positioned myself nicely and settled in to a comfortable rhythm. . . Well as comfortable as you can be riding up a fire road with an average gradient of 20% with a few pinches of 27% at an altitude of 2,300m. Yep! Really comfortable I was. . .bleeding through the eyeballs is the best way I can describe it to you!
Cresting the climb at Dantercepies and then bombing down the single track and fire road on the other side I actually had time to think "this is the best race I have ever done!" I wasn't even 1hr into the race.
The race was at no point flat so as soon as the elation of hitting the top of the climb set in you would be 20% plus gradient descending down the other side and the climbing would be back on! Just keep spinning. . . Just keep spinning, slippy, steep and endless.
Top of Dantercepies 2,300m
The descents were a whole other challenge in themselves as the 20% drop was normally down some goat tracks full of rocks, tree roots and animal foot holes. Hold on, sit back and most importantly, tuck you tongue behind your teeth incase you crash so you don't bite your tongue off. Yep sounds awesome. . . But it truly was.
Just as I was hitting the last part of the second steepest climb in the race, only up to 2,239m at Passo Pordoi, I didn't think this race could be anymore breathtaking. . . But then came a convoy of 40 plus Ferrari's streaming towards me! I couldn't believe what was happening! As I have been a Ferrari girl since I was tiny, this was most certainly the high light of the race for me and a totally unbelievable experience!
Top of Passo Pordoi 2,239m
After dropping off the side of another mountain I started the final climb up to Passo Sella and suddenly BANG! Both my legs went concave with cramp. . . I downed a bottle of fluid and pedaled it out as I was in the middle of the World Championships and getting off my bike was NOT an option.
A Swiss, Norwegian and I pedaled our way up to the top of the last climb with the Swiss girl attacking at the top and getting a bit of a gap. Then it was me and the Norwegian on a brutal last decent into the finish at Val Gardenia. She had been tentative all race on the descents but having ridden the last decent days earlier I knew exactly where I had to get her. Suffering nerve pain in both my wrists and hands, not to mention a swollen foot I managed to hold on to the bike down the rocky single track and a soon as I hit the last part of the fire road decent I took the Norwegian on the inside of the corner, like a ninja, and beat her into the last part of single track where passing was not an option.
Crossing the finish line tears welled in my eyes as I was so incredibly proud of myself for getting me here to the best race of my life!
Myself and Eliza Kwan
Thank you so much to Liv Cycling Australia for all the support. My Liv Obsess was super light on the climbs! #LivBeyond #LivNinja
A special thank you to Carnegie Caulfield Cycling Club for the amazing support!
Thanks to Super Coach Donna Dall and PCS Coaching. Her support and encouragement has been immense!!!
Thank you also to Instinct Sports Nutrition and Articfit
Fuel for the race #teaminstinct
Race recovery Articfit #wearempowered