As many of you may now know by now, this year has plagued me with the Epstein Barr virus, aka Mono. It was a rough beginning of the year trying to figure out what was wrong with me and why I was so sick.
For those that aren’t familiar with Epstein Barr, it’s a very difficult virus to get diagnosed with and then once you do, there isn’t anything you can take to get better. You just have to REST!!! You can have flu like symptoms, but most of all you are extremely exhausted. I had zero energy and swollen glands in my neck that looked like marbles poking out! My doctors told me no riding for at least 8 weeks!
No riding for at least 8 weeks, this was a huge blow. I had only done one CES race, Fontana, which I barely finished (I was on antibiotics racing and later learned I shouldn’t have even been on my bike) and then Sea Otter Classic. SOC was a bit better than Fontana, but not by much. Me being off my bike basically meant I wasn’t going to be able to race much this season, if at all. I absolutely love racing and I LOVE my Marin Bikes even more because they make it so fun and easy to do well on! Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to race at my two favorite local races, Battle Born and Toro Park, I started off by setting a goal to possibly race at China Peak. As time went on I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I was just too tired and I had only been doing walks/hikes after a few weeks of nothing. China Peak isn’t a race that you want to try and jump into, it’s pretty technical, plus it’s a lot of pedaling and in past years been VERY HOT! I decided to make a more realistic goal and set my first race back to be the Northstar enduro.
Since I couldn’t ride, it was time for some new low effort activities. I started taking walks/hikes in some of our local parks and I also started Paddleboarding. Paddleboarding has been great because it doesn’t take a ton of effort (well for my recovery purposes anyway) and I could work on my balance!
Since I still had time off from work for some of these races, I kept that time off and started heading to the mountains to practice at Northstar. N* is a challenging course just like China Peak, there are lots of rocks, roots and drops! I knew my fitness probably wouldn’t be back for the race, but I could at least get comfortable riding the techy trails. I went up to N* and rode about 6 times before the race, while I wasn’t fast, I was doing things that I wasn’t comfortable doing in the past. Some of my weaknesses are jumps and drops, so I just worked on those every time I was up there and it helped a LOT! I was getting better and feeling more comfortable than I have ever felt before with being in the air!
I realized that my goal for N* was going to be A – to finish the race (It’s a 2 day race and would be more riding then I had done in 4 months!) and B – to stay on my bike. I figured this was a realistic goal! So Friday, practice day, before the race I went out to take one last look at the trails before the race. I was SOOOO happy to see so many of my friends and to just be back on the bike with them. So many people were so stoked for me too, which was a bonus. Turns out folks like to see me out there. 🙂
I don’t think people really understood that just because I was racing didn’t mean that I was back to my race shape. It takes time, and I’m doing everything I can to get back to where I know I can and should be! So it was pretty funny when the girls kept saying, Bri, you go in front of me….no I’m good! I just hung out in the back and that was absolutely fine with me! I was just so happy to be there.
Day one was a fairly easy trail day, so I knew staying on the bike would be pretty easy! I pretty much made it to the top of each stage just in time for my start times, usually I am one of the faster pedalers to each of the stages because of my xc background, but this day I was the turtle!! I think we did about 3k of climbing and were on our bikes for a few hours, I was ready to head home and rest! As soon as I got home I took a nap, I was so exhausted!!
Day 2 was the more technical trail day so I knew staying on the bike was going to be a bit more challenging especially with my fatigue from the day before. We started with Gypsy which is my favorite trail out there and then headed to Sticks and Stones and Karpiel. I nailed all of the jumps/drops I had been working on and I made it down each of the stages without crashing! It was a huge success!! That was the biggest two days of riding I had done since the beginning of the year. While I finished at the end of the pack, I was ok with that, because I know I am getting back to shape and making my way back to where I was pre Epstein Barr!
I’m getting better every day, I still really have to pay attention to my energy levels and take naps when I feel tired so I don’t over do it. Relapses can happen, so it’s important for me to really listen to my body.
I just took a trip to Mammoth this last weekend and had a blast, although it WAS FREEZING!! I’m really looking forward to racing the last CES race up there in two weeks and I’m REALLY looking forward to next year. I’m ready for a fresh start and a killer 2017 Season!
Special thanks to all of my sponsors for making all of this possible! Marin Bikes, Rabobank, Wilderness Trail Bikes, KMC Chain, E13 Components, Skratch Labs, G-form, Smith Optics, Sweet Protection, Grifall Chiropractic and Glace Cryotherapy.
Stay tuned for more updates from the Mammoth Race!