McKenna Dwyer WORS #7 – Hixon Forest Epic: August 7, 2016

I came in to this race knowing that there were three other girls that were hungry for the first place medal.  I was determined to get first, but also knew I shouldn’t go too hard considering I was racing Ore To Shore the following weekend, but I can never go easy for a race.  In pre ride, I knew this course was going to probably kill me, I felt like it had more climbing than Cascade.  There’s one really long climb that takes about 15 minutes to get up, and there’s another climb that is short and steep, but seems like it takes forever.  I started in the second row while another competitor got the front row, but I was starting on the good side of the course.  When the race started, I was in fourth for a little while then snuck up to second.  When we got to the sketchy downhill that leads in to the long climb I was still in second until I snuck around first by taking a good line around the 180 in the downhill.  When we were down the hill and on to the flat double that connects the downhill to the uphill, I was right behind the leading group of Elite women.  Hanna Mork who started in first caught up and told me to grab the wheel of the lady ahead of me and we drafted all the way until we got to the start of the climb.  Hanna led me in to the climb and the Elite ladies dropped us almost immediately.  We got maybe a quarter of the way up the hill and another Elite lady caught up, when she wanted to go by Hanna and me, I went by too and started pushing.  I got a gap on both her and Hanna, the Elite woman then caught me at the very top of the hill and passed me right before you come out on the road.  I sprinted on the road and when I went in to the technical single track, I had maybe about a 20-30 second lead on Hanna.  I didn’t go through the single enough in pre ride so I wasn’t the most comfortable in it so that’s where I lost a lot of time in a place that I’m usually so quick in.  Right before the really steep hill I hit a stump that was sticking out on the left side of the trail, I went over the bars and hit my knee really hard and basically got ran over by the Comp guy right behind me.  I took me a little bit to get up since my foot was stuck, this is where Hanna passed me, and I’m sure the other riders were very close behind.  I got to the climb and my knee was hurting pretty bad but that went away quick enough that it didn’t cost me any of my race.  I caught up a little time on the climb and ended up right behind Hanna again.  We rode the rest of the lap together and up the long climb in the second lap.  When we came out on to the road, a Comp guy passed both of us and we hopped on his wheel and before we went in to the single both of them dropped me.  I road out the rest of the race with her in sight but she slowly pulled away and then I was just racing to stay ahead of third but also trying to come in as close behind Hanna as I could.  I finished in second and it was such a hard race, I was cramping almost the whole last lap.  I definitely blew up when I went too hard on the long uphill on the first lap and I think I could’ve held Hanna off longer if I wouldn’t of crashed.  It was a well deserved win considering she also had a slow leaking puncture and she still came out on top.  Very proud of Hanna for getting her first first place of the season!  I race Ore To Shore this weekend and I’m happy to be going back to my favorite city: Marquette, MI.  My goal is to get top 5 in the 28-mile race.

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