By Nicole Tittensor — Comeback 2020. That is the motto right now for my husband and I known as Team Tittensor. What we love is riding and racing our mountain bikes. Life has definitely thrown us a curve ball with my husband being seriously injured a few year ago, and with everything we’ve endured, there was one thing I did know. That was as long as the race wasn’t cancelled, I was lining up!
I have been a professional XC racer for 4 years now and the True Grit is, and has been since I became a sanctioned pro, my opening season race. This year we got a whole lotta rain for a solid 9 hours a day prior. The morning of race, we didn’t know how muddy it would actually be, but knew it wouldn’t be pretty at the start through Keyhole wash. We had a plan. Fresh gloves, shoes, and bike wash at the start of Zen, and then take a hot water bottle and be prepared for Stucki to be muddy too.
When I woke up, Coach Zepp said “Today, your biggest rival will be Mother Nature.” Why is he always right!?!? We went to the start without having details on trail conditions. There is a wash at the beginning that I knew would be muddy, but had no idea the disaster waiting ahead.
We hit the slimy deep mud and it caked our bikes from top to bottom filling every space possible. Eventually my chain seized 3 times; the last time it sucked my chain on the inside of my chain guide. Something I was told was impossible to get back out. I was furious and frustrated as a watched everyone ride away. I couldn’t even pluck the mud away and planned on quitting. I didn’t want to hike my bike out so I sat and tried to massage the chain back through little by little. I sprayed it with my rocket red water because it’s the only thing that I had.
Eventually, I got it back on and couldn’t believe it. I planned on quitting still, but then KC Holley came by and encouraged me to keep going. So I just started pedaling. The mud started to fall away and I realized I felt amazing! I started hammering and caught everyone except the leader by Zen. Zepp had hot soapy water and cleaned my whole drive train and pedals. It made the biggest difference!
I crushed Zen and Stucki stronger than ever. I hit Barrel Roll knowing I wasn’t going to catch first but still was sitting strong in second. With about 5 miles left and only about 10 minutes of rocky single track I said, “just don’t flat!” I came around a slippery corner and tried to dodge a rock, but didn’t have proper speed and then boom! Rim hit, and the the dreaded sound of air slowly seeping out your tire. I was again devastated. I realized I blew my bead and that there was no way of sealing. So I sat down, to fix a flat. It took me forever, and after all that fight, I realized I had punctured the tube. So I started walking. I knew it would be about an hour walk to the finish, and I accepted my fate.
Then, A guy came by (I think his name was Andy Walsh) and told me he wanted to help me. He changed my flat, gave me his tube and CO2’s because mine were gone and told me he wanted to see me finish. So, I did.
Just a side note: There were a lot of unknowns on trail conditions, and many were worried about ruining the trails, and angry the organizers went on with the race. The trails were good, and won't be ruined. It was really just the fire roads and washes that held all the mud.
Nicole Tittensor is a professional mountain bike racer from Axtell, Utah. She and her husband are a privateer team know as Team Tittensor. They represent Jans Park City and Scott USA.