Kamikaze: A strong, delicious alcoholic beverage that usually comes in a shot form but if you go to college in Humboldt and know the bartender, it comes in a pint glass. 

OR if used as an adjective: reckless, potentially self-destructive.

A little over a week ago I raced the California Enduro Series at Mammoth and it chewed me up and spit me out as soon as I arrived.

Amy Morrison pro rider for Marin bikes was there competing as well. Amy is one badass rider. Here is her blog post on how the race went for her:

Racing on the Moon

Insightful read from a professional who knows how to race.

Now here is what was going on in the beginner category:

Arrive late Thursday night. Camping and it is so cold when I let the puppy out of the truck she hopped right back in with a no thank you I’ll sit here all night.

Wake up Friday for practice and immediately don’t feel so hot. It’s hard to breathe because of the altitude. However the inability to breathe turns into a bad headache and severe nausea if I move around. Which is a good state to be in when riding a bike.

Decide to get in a few practice runs anyway. Egads this chair lift is going high.

First run down and a coach I work with at Northstar crashes. He ends up getting ambulanced out to nearest hospital.

Second practice run down. I realize if you take a foot off in this dirt known as kitty litter it is very hard to get your pedals level again while sliding all around trying to avoid hidden rocks.

Hear another rider giggling behind me as I Strider bike my way down a steep section.

Get lost and end up climbing to another stage. This does me in with the altitude sickness. Call Justin on the verge of tears to come get me on the other side of the mountain because there is no way I am pedaling back.

I fight nausea all night and can barely eat anything. Can’t wait to race. Justin tries to talk me out of it but I decide I should at least try.

Race Day

Stage 1: Slide down a steep section and end up running beside my bike because it is faster. Except I still can’t breathe so the running is more like asthmatic walking.

Stage 2: Take the highest gondola ride ever to the over 11,000ft summit.

Stage 2: The beginning of this stage is Kamikaze. The original DH course. Here’s what it is: a god awful fire road that rips your forearms to shreds as you hang on for dear life for what seems like eternity. Oh with gravel turns thrown in. Later Paige laughs when I tell her that. They used to race down that on hardtails. WHY.

Stage 3: Felt pretty good until I caught the tiniest bit of air off a jump and as I landed in the transition I realized I had no idea how to land in a litter box. I immediately slide sideways and crash into a tree with the left side of my body.

Stage 4: HELL ON EARTH. Almost 5 miles from the summit back down to the start. It was so windy and cold at the start that the race officials were hiding inside trucks counting us down with barely open windows. I thought when did I enter Red Bull Rampage?

On a positive note as I was starting my first climb when a DH racer asked me if I had a CO2 fitting. I did and as I was rummaging around in my pack he recognized me from Instagram and being with Justin. He asked if there was anyway he could keep the fitting so he could use it right before his run. I had two so wasn’t an issue at all. He went on to not only win the pro DH race but the overall series as well. I like to think if I had decided not to race perhaps Bruce Klein wouldn’t have been able to either.

Which means the day was amazing. I learned lots about racing and pushing my limits. I went in with an exit strategy if needed but never thought about using it. I finished that damn race and my last place makes me want to try that much harder for the next one.

Cheers to accomplishments and learning along the way!