Thursday, November 28, 2013

Oak Ass 50. An Account from a girl - Gretchen Mcelveen

Enjoy this write up from 3rd place Solo Female Gretchen Mcelveen of MGG Racing.

An account from a girl…

I am proud to say that I finished my first Oak Ass 50 and I live to tell about it! My account of it will be quite different from the ones you may have read already. I am not so pro like some of these other guys. I’ve been riding bikes for a couple years now and I blame any “racing” I do on peer pressure from friends (coughcoughJan&Hollycoughcough) who can always sucker me into things.

But I knew that when it came down to it, I would want to do this race because it is on my home course. How could I resist? So I signed up and set 2 goals: 1) Don’t die. 2) Finish under 6 hours. I wasn’t going to set any records but I knew I could at least finish.
I did my anti-rain dance all week and it worked! Sort of. It rained a lot the day before the race and the trails were left pretty slick in spots. But it was not raining at the starting line! And heck, it wasn’t even terribly cold.

As I usually do, I started off at the back of the pack. I wasn’t the last one in the woods, but I wasn’t far from it. Hey there were 49.5 more miles to go. I was saving my legs people! I just tried to keep my friend Jan in my sights. I wanted to keep up with her but, let’s be honest, on most of these trails she is just faster than me. I managed to pass a few people on my way to North Trailhead and on the dreaded Red Road climb. Knowing the trails so well came to my advantage! By this time the field had thinned out and most of the time I was riding solo.

 I had Avril Lavigne’s song “Bad Girl” from her new CD stuck in my head and some of the lyrics were actually fitting for the occasion. It has a good beat to it and kept my mind occupied.
I caught Jan somewhere on the Red Road climb but then she passed me right back coming down it on the way to Jekyl & Hyde. She got a pretty good gap on me as she tore through the technical stuff. I am not so good at rocks so I just wanted to survive that tough ~1 mile stretch. And I would like it to be known that I passed 2 guys (yes, guys!) on that technical section. They were walking and I happened not to be…at the time. I got Jan back in my sights on Johnson’s Mountain with just a few more miles to go to complete the 1st lap. I then started planning my pit strategy because all of a sudden I got competitive (sorry Jan!). ­­­­­­­­­­I thought it would be to my advantage to make my stop quick and get back out before her. I knew she could run me down so I needed to give myself a little head start.

I finished the first lap in 2:53 and change. I was pleased but knew there wasn’t a lot of room for error if I was going to make it under 6 hours. I went into Nascar mode and short pitted taking fuel only and no tires. J I ate a little and then got back on the bike. 

The 2nd lap was pretty lonely. I only encountered 2 other riders the entire 25 miles. Funny that I didn’t really notice the mile markers on the first lap but I sure noticed them on the 2nd. It was kind of fun, though, counting down the miles, taking it trail by trail, with Avril’s catchy song still blaring in my head. I actually felt better the 2nd lap than I expected and I thought surely I was going to make it under 6 hours (yes I should invest in a Garmin…maybe Santa will hook me up). When I finally came out of the woods on to the pavement and then turned toward the finish line I saw that the official clock said 5:59:50. Woah! Close! No coasting to the finish line for me. My final time was 5:59:55 I believe. Goals achieved! Under 6 hours and I live to tell about it!

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