TSE: A Photo Journey

Crawling into camp at 11:30 PM

A late work day meant a late arrival. Ryan and the rest of the TSE crew stayed up to make sure I could navigate to my cabin!

I had no idea how many people I would be with or where they were sleeping.

I didn’t want to wake anybody up [the door creaked] so in a state of awkwardness I decided I would be fine sleeping in my sweatpants and t-shirt and did not unload the car.

It was pretty cold so I used my pillowcase as a micro-sleeping bag.

Turns out nobody even heard me come in and took all of about 10 minutes for our floor to basically become an instant family! One of my favorite parts about each day was spinning back to the lodge and hearing about everybody’s races. Seriously, this crew was amazing!

The Eagle Lodge 1st Floor Crew! Marlee’s “awkward podium arm” post is for sure my fave!

On Stage 1 Bob charged ahead at the start as I buried myself to stay with him and the leaders. After about an hour of XCO pace he called out and said that it was not sustainable and we slowed up a bit. Good thing we did because at the 90 minute mark my back seized up and it was my turn to ask for a pace change.

Bob charging at the start of Stage 1! Photo by Bruce Buckley

We were able to rally and with rain pouring down and thunder clapping, we finished strong with nothing but smiles on our faces.

Photo by Bruce Buckley

The rest of the stages went by crazy fast and we learned more about how to pace without blowing each other up, which is something I haven’t had to think about when racing before. I would pull us on the gravel sections and Bob, a more experienced technical rider, would help guide me through some gnarly sections. Teamwork was definitely making the dream work!

Here are some of the stage highlights:

  • Stage 1: Finishing the race in a thunderstorm. This made it dramatic and exciting! Four more days to go.
  • Stage 2: Eating 3 GU gels + drinking a bottle of drink mix per hour. I may have gone overboard, but man did I feel energized on the ride!
  • Stage 3: Nabbed 5th in the Enduro Timed Section. I have been working on my descending skills so this felt like a well-earned victory!
  • Stage 4: Conquered the Three Bridges of doom. These were slippery bridges with a 16-ish inch step-up to get onto them. Physically it was hard, but mentally is was REALLY challenging!
  • Stage 5: Helping an injured rider off the trail to get to a road where she could be taken to the hospital. Bob and I ended up missing the GC podium but it was well worth it to help the rider get out safely. Completing this stage meant I completed my first stage race!
Photo by Icon Media Asheville

The week was definitely challenging as I learned about how to be a good partner and manage my pace and expectations. Not going immediately into the red meant that I was able to see technical sections more clearly and gained a whole new sense of rock-riding confidence.

While my legs and mountain bike skills (especially riding rocks!) will come out of this week stronger and more capable, I feel like my mental strength and balance as a competitive athlete have shattered a ceiling I didn’t even know I had.

See you next year!

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