Pinnacle: A Beginner's Guide
Having been in the camp that MTBs are dumb and I never wanted to touch them with a ten-foot-pole, I'm thoroughly humbled from Pinnacle. Not only the race, but the crazy support from Hannah, Liam, the team, and Back Bay Bikes in getting me set up. Having only had 2 real MTB rides prior to this, I'd be lying if I said I felt ready or even remotely capable. Flash backs to Alex Prieto coming into work at BBB with eight-inch gashes on his hands and arms came to mind.
I can't collect my thoughts fully on this weekend but want to throw it out there that my weekend was made 1000% better having Sharon as a buddy for Pinnacle. Thank the powers that be we decided to go up Saturday to pre-ride during the day. Despite taking a wrong turn and doing more climbing than was necessary right off the bat, we took almost two hours to fine comb the course and went through the hard features multiple times to get comfortable. Despite all of THAT, we still missed the turn for the plummet so facing that fresh Sunday morning was a treat.
When it came to game time, we lined up, whistle went, I was first wheel into the hole shot (CX practice paid off!) and my heart rate was already enough to be reminiscent of the chest-burster from Alien. My legs quit almost immediately as I was passed by a handful of girls but still kept up decently well.
Pacing myself has never been a strong point of mine but when it became obvious that a majority of the next hour and twenty minutes was going to be what felt like 100% climbing, I settled in to churning my cranks and tried to fend off a miserable mindset. As I quickly found out, there wasn't much time to have any mindset; I was too busy plotting lines, aiming myself, powering over and through stuff, and keeping my hands and feet out of harms way.
I was having a blast. My mind was on fire and even though I hurt all over I was pushing myself to go faster, ride smarter, and successfully tackling things I hadn't cleared the day before. My work in CX had paid off as I gracefully dismounted ahead of the hardest stuff and carried my bike flawlessly over things that didn't have obvious lines. I had one minor crash after basically punching a small tree straight in its dumb face. I was back up and off in no time though.
At no point in the race was I terrified. I certainly had some "oh dang" moments, like looking over the edge of the plummet and thinking there is no way I'm not going over my bars here. Some of the rock formations felt like they were coming at me like the gaping maw of Shai-Hulud. I was ready though. I had the recent talk of "go easy on the hard stuff and hard on the easy stuff" fresh in my mind.
So far, this has been a year of firsts. I take everything bad I said about mountain biking back. I'm humbled by the thrill of it and by the people. I think every female rider at the finish introduced themselves or joined in post-race talk. Everyone I passed or was passed by was respectful and pleasant. I hurt so much today but I'm so happy I took on Pinnacle and came out on top. Much like my discoveries on the road at Woodstock earlier this year, this is one for the memory books.