McKenna Dwyer – Ore To Shore: August 13, 2016

I came in to this race wanting to get top 5 in the women’s soft rock overall race.  Ore to Shore is a point to point race from Negaunee to Marquette, MI.  Knowing nothing about the course is always intimidating, especially when your competitors have raced it before.  The day before the race I just relaxed with my friends and later in the day we rode the last seven miles of the course (the most crucial miles to know are the last ones).  We went over parts of those miles, how to ride them, and where the best lines were.  I already felt really good in pre ride and knew I was going to have a good race if I put my mind to it.  I knew I could win even though this is a sprint race, I know I’m not the strongest out there, but I learned being the strongest doesn’t always matter.  I was excited to be racing and was just preparing myself for the race.

On race day, I woke up to damp conditions but not too wet to make it a mud race.  I ate the best breakfast I could: rice with bacon and eggs, rice with chicken and vegetables, and kiwi.  We drove to the start in Negaunee and I started warming up.  I pictured my race and those last seven miles.  I didn’t really know what the first 21 miles consisted of, but I knew it was all double track.  I was never really good in double track but I knew I was just planning on drafting and staying with the lead group of females.  I was lucky enough to be one of only 45 riders to get a preferred start (there were over 2,000 racing).  I was lined up on the front row and I was extremely nervous being the only girl on the front row.  The race started and I went off strong. Soon enough, Hanna Mork, Katy McDicken, and Maddy Frank were all up with me.  We all raced together for maybe the first 12 miles and then we dropped Maddy.  The rest of us knew we were first, second, and third overall.  We knew the three of us would be taking home top three overall, it was just who would come out on top.  We were all having so much fun racing together considering we always race the same race, but we’re never together.  It was fun to ride with them and to just have casual conversations while we were racing.  We all switched off pulling and drafting each other, while also getting drafts from other racers.  When those last seven miles came, we were all still together and I knew this is where everyone would start making moves to open up gaps.  Hanna made a move and opened up a small gap on Katy and I and we tried to close it.  She ended up crashing and hitting her head hard and Katy and I went by and tried to open up a gap that Hanna quickly closed.  When the large mulch climb came, I was in third and I just got as much momentum on the downhill before the climb and powered right by Hanna, Katy and I reached the top at the same time.  I went by Katy with three miles left and put the power down and quickly opened up a gap.  I kept putting down a fast pace and making sure to be careful to not make any stupid mistakes.  With a mile left I saw Hanna chasing but Katy wasn’t with her.  She caught up with 3/4 of a mile left and I drafted her on to the road and was just resting until I had to start sprinting.  On the last road corner with 1/4 mile left, I started sprinting and Hanna chased, I put down all the power I could until I came in to the finish shoot and Hanna passed me for the win just before the end.  I was so proud of both of us for giving it our all and for Hanna coming back from such a hard crash. We definitely gave the crowd a show with such a close finish, Hanna beating me by .02 seconds for the overall win.  Us girls from Wisco dominated the overall with first (Hanna), second (me), and third (Katy).  It was such an incredible race and I’m definitely prepared for next year and know what changes I have to make.   The rest of the day we swam at the hotel and relaxed and just awaited awards.  When awards came we were all so proud of each other and all the other racers out there.

The day after the race I got to ride with my friends at the south trails and we got some awesome footage, views, and trails.  We rode for almost three hours and enjoyed the time we had left in Marquette.  The trails were packed and it was nice to see so many racers have made it tradition to ride the day after the race.  I received many compliments on having such a close race.  After we were done riding, we all definitely wanted to shower before the long drive home, since we checked out of our hotels already, we had an alternative solution: cliff jumping!  We headed over to Black Rock on Presque Isle and got our dose of fun and we explored around there, swam, and jumped.  We then drove home after such a great weekend.  Thanks to my friends, family, and sponsors for all your support and always making race weekends the best.

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