Here is Rhonda Geiszler's race report from last weekend:
Warrior Society puts on a challenging race in the Santa Ana Mountains. There are two courses to choose from, Counting Coup or Vision Quest. I registered to race the shorter distance, Counting Coup that is 42 miles with 8,300 of climbing. It is a 5:30 am mass start so I was up EARLY. Of course, it started to sprinkle and I was worried that once I got up in the mountains it would be cold. I donned my Gore-Tex gear again; I sure am getting my monies worth. The race starts off with a climb up Black Star. Well, Black Star was just plowed the day before the race and with the rain it was a mess!!! Riders struggle to ride up, due to the thick, clay-like mud. The second time my wheels stopped turning, I decided to wait for my GF Denise, to see how she was doing; I basically had it in my mind I was going to turn back. Several minutes passed and I saw Denise, spinning up the hill, so I followed. My wheels stopped again, I found a big stick that was quite handy getting the mud off my tires and cassette, so I held on to it. Several riders turned back and riders were trudging up the climb. I thought to myself, if I can just get up this climb I will be good to go. Climb done and I was good to go. At the bottom of Motor Way were the first aid station and the 20-mile mark. I saw Mike, Denise’s husband, who quickly cleaned off my bike and offered me a PB&J sandwich, which I declined. I asked what is my place and he replied “2nd”. I could tell by the tone of his voice Heidi had a big lead on me; found out later it was 15 minutes. Off I went for the long climb to the top, this is the hardest and longest climb in the race. I believe this is when the race really beings. I felt good and kept my pace in check. I came to the next aid station and a guy said, “Heidi is only a few minutes ahead of you, go get her”. I was very excited and off I went. I stood and climbed and I was passing racers and we all know that feeling when you pass racers, it like cocaine, it gives you a rush. Well, guess whom I found? Heidi, and I went after her. There was a small descent and I passed her gracefully and the course started again and I never looked back. I thought she might catch me once we headed into the single track back down the mountain. Heidi has raced this race, well, too many times that I lost count and she always wins overall. Once I got out of the single track and was on the service road I knew I had won, but I kept riding really hard. Crossed the finish line first woman overall. Some of the comments on social media reported this was the hardest year since the start of the race. The trails were wet, muddy, rocky, loose, or over-grown. I was pretty excited to beat Heidi!!!! It was an awesome day for me racing in the Santa Ana Mountains. Checking the results, I was 12th overall, out of 130ish riders that finished and there were 40 riders who DNF’d. More than half the women quit.