Double duty at Xterra Tsali and 3hrs of Tsali races. It was my goal to train through Tsali and I felt like I did just that. Once the Xterra was done I was pooped and ready to go take a long nap before our drive home.
3hrs of Tsali started out with a clear sky but wet ground. I got to check in a little late but just enough time to go through the shenanigans that ensued. After getting my kit on and nutrition set, I went to packet pickup. As I was standing at packet pickup I heard this loud pssssssss. After some worried exclamatory words, I realized that I had punctured my wheel at some point and the Stans in there had finally given out. I ran back to my car trying to pump it back up, to no luck, dumped a ton of Stans in there to seal it but the hole was too big. There was no way I could get this tire fixed in order to make the start time in ten minutes. I tried finding a large allen wrench so I could swap wheels between my bikes but was unable to find a size big enough. This left me with only one choice, at the last minute to switch from riding my full suspension to my hardtail. I knew the Tsali trails were pretty smooth but had not ridden Right Loop (the race course) before. I made it to the start with a couple minutes to spare and was quite scattered brained the first lap. After making it around the first lap I had settled in and was feeling more confident with my race.
Although the trails were covered in water I was able to hold much better grip that expected. The amount of mud in my eyes made it hard to see for segments of the trail until I could wash it out or get it with my jersey. After battling wet trails, my scattered brain, and tough competition I crossed the line with three laps in under three hours and realized there was no possible way I could do another and still make the cut off. I did a total of 31.5 miles and I knew the next day I would feel every bit of it.
Xterra morning started with HUGE rain storms. I was awake in the camper early on to eat breakfast and do some last minute preps. I didn’t try to fix or switch wheels around the night before and just planned on riding the hardtail either way. As I realized it is time to head to transition the rain was still coming down hard, along with thunder and lightning. I have never been at an Xterra that was cancelled because of weather but I sure thought this was going to be my first. Eventually, with about an hour till race time, the clouds retreated and the blue sky came out. I got my multi stage transitions setup just as the rain was stopping, which gave me plenty of time to warm up in the water.
I felt stronger in the water than I did on any other portion of the race (since my legs were weak from the day before). I tried to stick with people I knew that were just faster than me in the swim thinking it would give me a good carrot to chase. After coming out of the water in a decent position it was off to the run (since this race is done out of order swim-run-bike).
I was passing people left and right on the run and got passed once too. I made it to the bike transition and noticed that there were still a TON of bikes still there.
While leaving transition, I was told I was 5th overall. I tried to play it smart on the first few miles of the bike because I knew at the end there were some big and steep climbing sections that killed me the year before. I love the mountainous feel of the trails in Tsali and how remote it is. I had a hard time not stopping to stare at the beautiful lake that you ride alongside on the back portion of the trail. I passed two other racers in the first half of the bike course and then didn’t see anyone else till the finish line. I crossed in 3rd place overall and 2nd in my age group.
All in all, it was a blast of a weekend riding on some beautiful trails, we found a new campground that we love in that area to stay at, and spending time with friends made it such a great weekend!
What I learned: Knowing the course can be a key for success, because I knew what was coming near the end I could plan for it early on and not be surprised by it.