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Sharon's story: Natchaug Epic Presented by Specialized

BaseCamp group coaching member Sharon Benedict shared her experience at the 2024 Natchaug Epic in Connecticut.

Before the race

It’s been raining and snowing here since last night. Someone predicted peanut butter mud. It’s going to be cold!!! I hesitantly signed up bc it's a Best Buddies event and we are domestiques and Mike is a mechanic on wheels for the event thanks to me volunteering him 🙂 - so it must be done. But I’m nervous about the conditions. I know I have the fitness (thank you BaseCamp 2024 winter group coaching) but I haven't been outside so my skills are probably rusty and my fingers… well I plan to wear non-latex gloves under my real gloves and not take them off. It’s my fighting chance to be able to brake in 30 degree wet conditions. I’m torn between riding with the mtb guys from the shop (where Mike works) or to find the fast guys and see what I can do. The only timed sections are the segments though, so there’s that.

Race report

Day was a mixed bag. It started out great - and I got that I love racing - I think I want to race again feeling. But my asthma kicked in pretty bad about halfway through and the more I tried to control it the worse it got - I practiced gear breathing to calm the anxiety that constricted airways causes, which just makes matters worse, but once it hit a certain point, it was just a game of survival and trying to keep going. I still worked to stay with folks, but trying to drink and eat on the bike while breathing was tough, too, so I probably lost some energy there, too. Plus that tension of knowing I have the fitness and I should be able to do this also contributed to the asthma.

I finished, though! A friend who lives in the area met me at mile 20, rode with me for a while, which was awesome! Then another friend caught us, so she and I rode together til the end, and that was fantastic! We talked CX, and doing events together, and she said how much the masters women would love to see me back on the field. We also lamented about how we are both dog-mom fails, as neither of us managed to crate train our pups. 🙂

Mike had a blast, got to be the riding mechanic with the 35 mile "explorer" group, with a pro woman "domestique." (He forgot her name, but she was very cool.) Part of the organizer's mission is to promote the sport by making sure everyone has the opportunity to participate, have fun, and succeed, so he sets up domestiques at some of the events, the biggest one being Best Buddies. It's incredibly satisfying to be on that end of the sport, so I'm glad Mike had such a good day.

It also reminded me of how BaseCamp is also doing the same - offering tools to help people be part of a sport that gives and gives, even when the day might be mostly a "silent hell." Much of today was that for me, but even though my performance wasn't what I'd hoped, I was happily reminded of how much I love it anyway.


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