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It was a party at CMSP for so many reasons on Saturday. We got to celebrate Andy's 100th race - a decades long series of fun and rider development. And I got to start a race with people singing me happy birthday. Really, an awesome way to celebrate. Thanks everyone!

A sunny, hot and slightly (turning very) humid day greeted us racers for the 100th Sand Creek Sports race. I was eagerly looking forward but also rather dreading nine fun filled laps up Talon, across Turkey Trot to Sundance, thru the infamous Zook rock garden to the climb of south Blackmere. Then across the rocks of Cougar's Shadow to the ripping descent of Bolder and Coyote Runs. Talk about cramming in as much fun and technical riding as possible in to that 5.2 mile loop! A highlights reel of CMSP...

Last year, my four laps had taken me 2:24 - so I was figuring just about 6:00 for the entire 47.7 miles. Yikes. So I was very happy to hear Andy say that all riders would finish on same lap. The question would be now - when would Cameron lap me? I knew he would - so I made it my goal to try to hold him off until at least my fifth lap. And hopefully not have too many other people lap me. There were the perennial COS rippers on the line plus plenty of out of town riders. It was a crowded start, with all the Pro men, SS men, Cat 1 and 2 men and the women. And a mass state rolled us out onto the trails... I knew it would be a long day, so after an initial surge to get into the middle of the field (the woman had been staged very last in the group) I settled into a comfortable hard tempo. Stay smooth, stay relaxed - that was my plan for the first few laps. I also had to ignore the guys and the fairly obvious displays of the pony tail factor at times. It was my race to ride - stay steady and bring them back as the day dragged on...

The sun was blazing, the air muggy. I finished my camelbak in the first two laps and grabbed a bottle from my mom. Best birthday present - having her willing to stand out in the hot sun for five plus hours to hand me and Nick bottles! I made the mistake of not realizing how much I was drinking and heading off for lap four with less an a half bottle - it was gone before the top of the climb...whoops. It was that hot out that even I was drinking a full bottle every lap. Polished off a full bottle on lap five and took my camelbak (now refilled) on lap six. Two more laps with the camelbak, but I did take an half bottle of water at the start of the seventh lap. Finally, the bell lap and my last full bottle. Nearly twice the amount I would normally drink in a race of this length. We had some shade out on course and intermittent cloud cover with some cooling sprinkles, but it wasn't enough to cut the humidity from the air. My jersey was streaked with white when I finished...

Everyone out there was suffering. Shortly after I started my second lap, the shorter races started (four and two laps) I saw a few of them throughout the day, but kept my attention focused on the men in the longer race. I seemed to be the "grim reaper" for a lot of the racers this time. With the length of the race playing into my strengths and my experience with long events, it didn't take long for me to start reeling in the cat 2 and cat 1 men. I'd make the pass, say something encouraging and keep riding. But I never saw any of them again - it was like I would pass someone and they would just vanish from the trails.... Turns out that's exactly what happened :)

I did manage to hold Cameron off until the entrance into Blackmere on my fifth lap. Yay - I would get to do eight laps - twice as many as last year! I was still consistent, but the rocks were getting a little bigger and the climbs a little steeper each lap. JJ caught me at the exit of Cougar's Shadow, but no one else lapped me. I think only three people managed to get nine laps done - Cam was on fire! The last few laps hurt as I was slowing to close to 40 min lap times, but i was still riding almost everything. I might have been one of the last people to finish, but I finished with a smile... 42 miles of rocks and fun - a perfect way to celebrate so many things.

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