My schedule has been pretty packed this year between working as a PA and coach and then adding on travel with the Lifetime Grand Prix and my team’s racing calendar but when I heard that BWR was coming to Michigan, I knew I had to add it onto my calendar when I saw I wasn’t working that weekend! With frequent travel during most of the year, I always enjoy racing in my home state and I have a generous host family in TC making the weekend less costly and more enjoyable with a wonderful host. We had some rain the week of the race, which really tamed down some of the sand sections. I’ll be honest that I carried a bit of stress into this race as I started a new job in the emergency room the week of the race and had some unplanned mechanicals in the 48hrs leading into the race. Thank you to all that helped get me to the start line - you all know who you are.
The start of the race was pretty mild, I made the selection into the lead men's group heading into the first 2 track seasonal road, but things bottle necked and my position at that time had me behind a slower rider into the subsequent single track. I should have been positioned higher in that group and the other lead women caught back onto our group at this point since the pace was pretty slow through the single track. This is when the lead men's group rode away from me. I knew I was the first woman to enter this section, but unfortunately, this was also an area that I was not able to recon prior to the race. Our entire group missed a turn and we added on a couple miles of single track to the race before we realized around mile 24 what had happened. Per strava maps and time, this added on about 9 minutes and this group included the lead 4 women at the time.
Once we figured out we were off course, we redirected back onto course, but from there, I knew it would be a long day of chasing, so I started to settle into a hot, but sustainable pace. I had no idea if 10 women were in front of me or just a few. I’ll be honest that mentally I was very frustrated with myself. I did learn after the race that some of the locals took down signage from the course and many people missed this same turn, but I also take full responsibility for what happened. I should have looked at this part of the course but my time is limited with work and there is only so much that I can do. With lots of experience in mental reframing and after feeling the frustration with the lost time, I told myself to just focus on the controllables - which was eating/fueling correctly and staying positive and to never give up. The missed turn already happened and being mad about it wasn’t going to change anything, so might as well shift my mind to something else that I could control.
A few others joined, including Julie who ended up being third, but being in full on chase mode I was often alone or on the front. Around mile 50 I rode through the water crossing when Julie walked and this is when I gaped her and then the other 2 women dropped off much earlier when our chase pace was hot. I wasn't willing to sit in and let the pace slow knowing I probably wasn't in the lead. Tactics change when you are chasing, even with other women in the group.
Eventually after 90 miles of hard work, I did catch up to the lead woman, Erin, around mile 115. I knew at this point her technical riding skills were much better than mine so I would need to gap her prior to the single track sections in the last 10 miles. However, she was riding strong and when I made a move on one of the hills a small gap opened but it didn't stick. As we entered the single track, her superb technical skills were on full display as she rode away for the win. I spent those final 10 miles just reflecting and enjoying the time in my home turf woods being thankful for a hard, fun day on the bike. When you’re as competitive as myself, you always want a win so it would be easy to be frustrated about what happened and disappointed with a second place finish. However, when the entire day is put into perspective, it creates a more well balanced display of what happened and it’s easier to have gratitude for something other than a win.
Additionally, I didn’t know Erin much before today but riding with her in those final miles I could see that she was genuinely a class act woman. We talked after the race about how we both have had bad experiences with aggression in some of the women’s pelotons and just talked about how we want to be strong and fierce, but also nice. It was really refreshing to have that conversation with her. In her post race interview at the podium she stated “I’m just a normal person” - this made me smile and was very relatable. At the end of the day, we are just normal people. We have jobs. We work hard to get the opportunities to race, then we work harder when we ride to make those opportunities worth it. We want to crush souls but smile in the process and be nice.
I also had some family at the finish, including 2 of my cousin’s daughters cheering for me as we made that final tough climb on Mt Holiday. It made me smile knowing those young girls were seeing fast women on bikes and I had a lot of gratitude in those moments. I also had a close friend, Lindsey (who finished 4th) come here from Utah and we had some quality time leading into the race together which I really enjoyed. It reminded me that the relationships you form through these miles are more valuable than any race result or podium finish. She’s also a working mom who continues to crush at races - another example of “just a normal person” out slaying these courses!
I do want to give a major shout out to John at MoMitt and the BWR crew for a fun course that truly had a bit of everything for all riders - lots of single track, deep sand, road, gravel and even a fun and spicy XC circuit to finish on! Be sure to mark your calendars for next year’s festival!
BWR Race Stats:
Distance: 134 miles
Place: 2nd Overall Female
Location: Traverse City, MI
Starting Temp: 43 degrees
Bike: Ventum GS1
Pressure: 22 front / 27 rear (47mm width front, 42 rear)
Fueling: 95- 100g of carb per hour
NP Power: 233 (a lower difference between NP and average showing my steady 110 mile chasing TT effort vs surging)
Avg Power: 225
Strava File: https://www.strava.com/activities/7938588458