Tuesday, October 19, 2010

100K MTB Baja Ultra Endurance. "Pua's WN"

Pua's is very good about describing her races, sending pics, etc...

Monique Pua Mata

Buenos días! (Sorry, after being in Mexico for a few days, you can't help but want to try and speak Spanish.)

I hope you had a fantastic weekend are having a great Monday morning. I just got back from my race in Ensenada
and wanted to give you a little report. Below, I wrote a little story about the weekend, but for those of you who have
busy schedules and better things to do....I took the win in the women's and was 4th overall in the men's.

On the men's side Manny Prado took the W at the finish after battling with a local all the way to the end and Evan
Plews came in right in front of me for 3rd. For those who have time, here is the story of my weekend:

As most of you know, this past Saturday was the 100K MTB Baja Ultra Endurance race in Ensenada. It was the 4th
annual and my second time making it down there for the event and racing.

On Thursday the race promoter, Jorge Trujillo, drove down to San Diego to pick up Evan Plews from the airport and
myself from my car (which he let me park at his brother-in-laws house). Without any hassles we drove across and
in no time, we were pulling into the hotel.

The minute we put our bags down, they took us downtown for some Mexican Food, I had some fish, beans and rice
and it was muy bien! When we were done, they insisted on trying some Flan for dessert. I have never tasted it
before and I wasn't sure what I would think, but it was pretty tasty. For those of you who have not had flan, it appears
to be like custard, but with a much more dense texture and is made of egg...a ton of it.

When we were done we walked back to the hotel and went straight back to our rooms to get some shut eye. There
was a press conference in the morning at 10 and I wanted to get up and be pedaling by 7:30 so that I could get a
couple of hours in before.

A local racer, Tury, was my guide and he was waiting right on time for me in the lobby. It was overcast, a little chilly
and slightly misting, but perfect weather for a ride. The course headed through town for a ways and we decided
to ride the start up to the top of the King of the Mountain then turn around and head back.

Let me tell you a little about the riding in Mexico. First of all, yes, this course was mainly fire road, but remember
this is Mexican fire road which means....steep, rough and unmaintained. It feels like when you are going up, you
are going straight up and finding your groove is nearly impossible as you are trying to navigate your way through
the rocky terrain that is throwing you in every direction. When descending, you are in the same situation, but
you are just holding on as you are trying to just let go of the brakes and not be completely thrown from your bike.

We got back to the hotel with just enough time to get cleaned up and head to the press conference which was
right down the hall from my room. When I walked in, there were reporters, the local TV station, the local radio
station, a bunch of cameras and the table up front where Evan and myself were going to be sitting. As it began we
had no idea what was really going on, being that everything was being said in Spanish. Eventually the microphone
made its way towards the both of us and we were given a translator and we commented on the event and how
excited we were to be there.

When that was over, we headed over to a local cafe/restaurant called Bajafrut and had some lunch and luckily
there was a waiter who spoke very good english and I got exactly what I was looking for, a turkey sandwich and a
glass of pure, natural pineapple juice.

That afternoon was the registration and bicycle check-in where they checked every racers bicycle to make sure it
passes inspection. When the bicycle passes, it receives a bracelet to make sure that it is that bicycle that you use.
Along with that bracelet, your helmet receives a green sticker (and I am still not sure what that one was for.)

For dinner we headed over to a local Italian restaurant and other than the service being extremely SLOW, the food
was excellent. I can understand slow service, but when there are literally only 2 full tables in the restaurant....

After dinner was the racer meeting and then it was straight to bed. As I got into bed I could not believe what was
going on outside, there was some circus going on and the sound system was blaring and it felt like they were right
outside of my window. Luckily I was so exhausted that I still fell right asleep, very soundly, until my alarm got me
up at 5am.

The race started at 7am sharp and with the sound of go, we were led out very slowly by the local policia through
town until we reached the fire road that turned off of the main road. When the lead vehicle pulled off, the reigns
were released and the race began.

Less than 10 minutes of the race beginning, I could see everyone slowing and when I looked up, I saw that the
first gate that we were approaching was closed and the only way to get around it was a single file line around to
the right....only in Mexico! This really put a wrench into the race, being that the guys in front were able to take off
and get a good away, but it is all part of racing right?

The course had a lot of climbing...steep and rough climbing. We also encountered "trails" that were made right
through the dry river bed. The navigation was made very interesting. You were battling the sand while searching
for the pink ribbons that were barely grabbing on to the dry sticks and brush. Or you were mashing through the
fields on the farm land that were supposedly their "road," but it was bulldozed and covered in dry grass and it was
so slow, I felt like I was barely moving. The other excitement on the course came from the dogs that were along
the course as we pulled into different villages. There was nothing like being chased down as these dogs were
growling and nipping at your heels, especially when you were in the last third of the race and sprinting up the hill
was something that your legs were just not appreciating.

After 4.5 hours in the Mexican hills and mountains, I rolled into the finish, the first woman and fourth overall. There
was a good size crowd and they definitely were not expecting a girl to be right there with the guys and I got a
few interviews and then I was taken over to get a free post race massage. A massage after a race is insane, but
have you ever had a massage with three ladies working on you at once?! Let's just say...heaven!

The post-race event was a festival and the awards ceremony was awesome. They had a ton of prizes and give
aways and everyone was waiting to win the 2 bicycles that were being given away. I was able to do the honors
of picking the name of the Ellsworth frame winner and could not believe a) I had to choose and call out 4 names
before actually choosing the 5th name who would actually win and b) the winner had to jump in the pool that was
in the middle of the venue!

It was an awesome weekend and I am glad I made the trip over there to participate and hope that I will be back
next year. The promoters put on such a great event and do everything in their power to make sure that every racer
walks away with an experience they will never forget. Yes, it is Mexico, but it is still bicycle racing!

I have exactly a month before I am starting at the start line of La Ruta de los Conquistadores. Lots of training
ahead and probably a few cross races. Have a great week and until next time....Hasta luego!

WN Pua

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