Get ready folks, this is going to be a long, stream of consciousness blog post. I’m overtired, trying to get too much done on a Sunday night, and have had a glass of wine on an empty stomach.
What is it about Cuyuna that I absolutely love? I don’t know if I can even pin it down but I always have such a blast up there and just LOVE LOVE the trails. My first memory is when James, Vaughn and I went up for the festival when they first officially opened the trails. I was wearing my favorite button (that I have sadly misplaced) that says ‘I like this town’. As we were registering, Jenny from Crosby’s Cycle Path and Paddle saw my button and said, ‘Is that for us?’ I absolutely loved it. . because yes, that button is for whatever town I’m in when I’m wearing it. Just makes me smile every time I think of it because she had such a look of joy on her face like Sally Field. . .’You like me!’. I can completely see myself doing that.
The Flynn-Kauth-Prosser family in Cuyuna, 2011.
Ok, back to the race. As you know, snow is non-existent this year and they had to switch the course from the single track to the Sagamore unit section, which is wider ski trail type section. AND we were going to have to do 3 laps. I love long races where it’s point to point or at least where it’s one giant loop so each hill I go up is the only time I have to go up that hill. Now I had to go up every hill 3 times. Ahhh, had to resign myself to the lapped race.
I drove up straight from work and headed to the C-I Pub to pick up my stuff. C-I I figured out stands for Crosby/Ironton. Duh. Felt like a reunion to see everyone. Aaron Hautala (the man who has done so much to bring enthusiasm and funding to the Cuyuna Lakes area), Dan Brown (owner of the Deerwood Country Inn–my favorite place to stay), Father, Klunker (who I know but doesn’t know me), many other Cuyuna Lakes folks I recognize but don’t know their names, and of course the racer community. I was able to hang with the cool kids from 45North for a while, but then gravitated to the Angry Catfish clan with Rob Hermon and Dan St. Onge. What a blast it was watching Dan win the meat raffle something like 4 times! I bought a round of mashed potato balls and handed them out to my friends. Seriously, mashed potato balls? I was in heaven.
As I walked to my car, I stopped and took in the quiet and the darkness. Wow. I have a lot going on right now. . wondering if I am in the right position for me at work. . .thinking about aging (that 5-0 b-day is this summer). . .and trying to figure out how to make time for all the Crank Sisters stuff I want to do. But I was able to turn that all off and just BE in the quiet and dark. That’s part of the Cuyuna magic.
Back at the hotel I did all my goofy pre-race rituals. Luckily my roommate Chelsea wasn’t there to observe. I hit the sack and watched some dumb movies.
12:30 starts are tough because I like to sleep in and then it’s hard to cram in breakfast and lunch, but I was able to do it. :-) Didn’t want to make the mistake I did with the Loppet and not have proper nutrition. Ok, so what is going on because I felt so much better during this race that the Loppet. What was it? Better nutrition yes, but I think it was that the course was exciting enough that I had things to think about during it, not just the pain of the race.
Photo Credit: The talented Todd Bauer
The course was icy in many spots, and even though we were on the wider trails, I still had to think about what line I was going to take on the corners. . whether to choose ice, snow or dirt. The hills were fun too. Loved just motoring on the downhills and hoping I stayed upright. . which luckily I did.
Photo Credit: The talented Todd Bauer
It was also great that there was two way traffic in about three different areas. This gave me a chance to be the personal cheering squad for anyone that I came across. I also felt inclined to be the cheering squad for the volunteers out there. . they’re out there in the cold and should have some encouragement too. I seriously was smiling about 50% of the time. Yea, maybe I could have gone a little faster if I hadn’t spent that energy but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
The first lap I really pushed it and had SO much fun going around the icy corners. Not sure if the people behind me were ok with my sound effects when I was slightly out of control. I do little chirps and squeaks sometimes. . I know it drives my friend Cori nuts. Anyway, I would make that little scream then start laughing about it.
Now, I’m not a professional athlete. I don’t get paid for my results or anything. I’m a pretty cooperative competitor. If another woman asks me for racing advice, I’ll give it to her. I’m not trying to keep trade secrets or anything. I help other women in skills sessions, which may help them surpass me on the race course. But DURING a race, I’m always wanting to beat whoever I can.
Amanda Dekan and I have a nice friendly rivalry going on. She has really upped her game this year, and our times are similar. Most times I will beat her if it’s a race with single track and if it’s a race that’s a more open courses with hills, she’ll crush me. We both had a bad race at the Loppet, but coming in to Cuyuna I wasn’t sure how it would shake out. The trail was wide, yes, but technical skill was needed on the icy corners.
I started out ahead of her and was comfortable and feeling fast as we were almost finished with the first lap. I was behind a few guys that maybe weren’t going as fast as I could, but I figured I’d pass them after the lake crossing. Then I heard her melodic voice. . “Martha” as she passed me and the guys I was stuck behind. “Shit” I thought to myself. I’d better just try to stay on her wheel. Then we came to a turn and BOOM she went down. I’d like to say my first thought was to feel bad for her and wonder if she was seriously hurt, but honestly, my first thought was “GOOD” as I cruised by her and put the hammer down to get around the guys. I’m not that terrible of a person. I could tell by the way she fell that she was OK, AND there was a course marshal right there.🙂 Anyway, I upped my game and raced the rest of the race knowing she was chasing me.
As she was chasing me, I was chasing my friend Jeremiah. He and I leapfrogged quite a few times at the Loppet and I was able to pull away from him on the last lap. In this race when he passed me he said something like “You’re it”, but unfortunately the leapfrog game was not to be this time. He stayed ahead of me, taunting me the entire race. There are many places where you can see the people ahead of you and I kept seeing he was close, but not within reach. Oh well, maybe next time for Jeremiah.
I ended up finishing in 5th place behind some very strong women (April Morgan, Pam Nielsen, Chelsea Strate and Jill Martindale). Happy with that placement and feeling strong during the entire race.
After the race I hung out for a bit and was able to meet Bonnie Moebeck. . my new teammate from TwinSix METAL. That was fun. Chatted with a few other folks, then had to change before I got too chilled.
C-I Pub put on a great post-race party. I didn’t win anything in the big raffle, but at least my ticket proceeds are going straight to the trails. I was wishing James was up at the race with me. He stayed back to get ready for the Bike Swap on Sunday to sell all our extra bike parts. Things were winding down by around 6pm and even though I had an invite to go hang out with the 45North crew, I decided to head home to see my James and sleep in my own bed. I know I’ll be back up to Cuyuna at least 3 more times this year for High School League stuff, if not more for general riding.
If you’ve never been, or haven’t been up there for a while, I highly recommend it!