Hammer Nutrition XCT Missoula MT

Another XCT in the books! This race was at an old ski resort outside Missoula called Marshall Mountain. Flying in at midnight on Friday meant I had to preride the course about an hour before the start of my race. The course was a 5 mile lap that wound it’s way up the slopes of the ski resort and then sent you straight down through some sick singletrack in the trees. There was even a big gap jump labeled the A-line which I heard some of the girls in my race hit. Spectators could watch the racers hit the A-line on a big screen down at the finish area, ¬†and there were people cheering all over the course which made it feel a bit like Valle di Sol.
The start was fast as ever, but spending the first few miles on steep climbs meant I was able to move up a bit during the first 2 laps. I dropped my chain while shifting into the granny once on each of the first two laps, but managed to move from the back to 13th by lap 3. Despite a serious pre race hydration effort though, that’s when the terrible cramping started. My plan of attack had been to keep my head down and push the climbs harder and harder each lap, but the calf cramps slowed me down a bit. To make matters worst I dropped the bottle I grabbed in the feed zone about 500 meters after I got it on the 5th and final lap. The final climb was torture, winding around steep switchbacks and suffering up loose fireroads. Everyone else must have been hurting as well because I was able to move up one more place and the group on my wheel fell back quite a bit. I crossed the finish line in 12th place out of 36 women, which wasn’t too disappointing.
Post race was the best because there was a bbq fundraiser for the local food bank and I got to watch the pro men hit the A-line during their race.
The low light lenses on my Smith piv lock v2 sunglasses made it so easy to dive into and out of dense trees during the race and I am sure the GU inhaled on lap 3 kept me from dropping out from cramping. I do have some work to do to figure out a nutrition plan that works during races, and thankfully GU has my back!
Special thanks also goes to my hot mechanic Brendan Connors who packed and unpacked/finetuned my bike and who hands off bottles in the pits like a pro.