30 November, 2009

after Thanksgiving and my first CX race

preface - apologies for it being so long! I am not known for my brevity. That's another lesson I could learn from B2

First, let me say that I went back and forth about buying a bike for cyclocross. Many times. As you know I had borrowed one so I could work on skilz and drilz. It's a nice bike, but coming in at 25 or more pounds is heavier than I wanted to invest in. So I worked with a couple of local bike shops, inquiring price, components, weight, financing, etc. Friday I bought a red and white Van Dessel Hole Shot, 12 months same as cash, good price and nice bike.

So, I rode it Friday for a short 40 minutes as the sun was setting too quickly to stay out longer. A very few mounts/dismounts and runups. Then, not knowing what to expect I rode it 30 miles with the club on Saturday morning. Now, it was 38F at the ride start and I wasn't sure how my asthma would do except when I rode Thanksgiving morning with fellow Rogues in cold temps I was fine. Cross bikes have fat tires that are somewhat knobby, not heavy duty like mountain bike tires though. The chain rings are more compact at 46/36, so you wind up spinning much more than on a road bike with a 51 or larger ring. I tried to take this ride easy, not sure if that worked for or against me for race day.

Sunday I got up @4am, dressed, ate and put the bike on the car. Drove to a friend's place, moved my gear to his car and left for Dayton about 5:45. He hadn't slept much at all. Despite that we had a very nice 2.5 hour drive. We arrived an hour before my race start. As we pulled into the park my stomach started feeling weird and I muttered a few things. B2 said, "just calm down". Exactly what I needed, firm yet level headedness. Went to register, but they weren't ready to register people. So we went back to the car and changed. Funny, 2 people of opposite gender in the front seat under beach towels, changing clothes. Humor is important when you are a nervous wreck with race jitters! Pump up the tires, take off the tool bag, check list...

We prerode the course, we had about 35 minutes til my race start. I reached a technical section and wasn't looking ahead, where I should be going, but right in front of my front wheel. Couldn't turn sharp enough and pedal or unclip so I fell. Embarrassed, but up and keep going. I sell a second time on a technical part. The whole preride I kept thinking, this is a long course. It had everything, off camber portions, single track, double track, 180 degree turns around trees and boulders, barriers and 2 DEEP sandpits. Preriding the course was good for me. I made the mistakes before race time. Not to say I didn't make mistakes during the race, but I didn't fall during the race.

It was about 42F and the race start was about 100 yards or so down the hill on pavement. I was warm from preriding, but not warm enough (wish I'd been on the trainer some too). Standing at the start, in the shade and a brisk breeze blowing was cooling me down too fast. There were about 30 women in the race, 12 in the 35+ master's race. I'm not aggressive enough and didn't line up where I should've. Gotta be smarter about that!

At the start I was able to pass quite a few by the time we got to the grass. The second technical turn found 2 women down right in front of me, but I managed to pedal past them somehow. My adrenaline kicked in and my heart raced and I tried to stay on a wheel in front once we hit the straight section. All was going fairly well until I got to the geasy muddy single track in the woods. First I attempt to pass this woman and she moved into me her rear wheel meeting my front wheel. I bounced off of her with no problems, but again I expended too much energy with that. A few minutes later we are going through a tight s-curve through 3 trees and my rear wheel fishtailed The racer behind me gasped. I lost some steam. After that once we hit the grass I thought everyone had passed me. I kept everyone in sight through 2 laps, but couldn't get enough power to bridge up. I decided I was going to ride and learn. I worked through my gears, tried to find a sweet spot for different sections. I was happy with the off camber, the sand pits and the barriers. I wasn't thrilled about my remounts from the barriers though. Just no fluidity of movement. It was great having B2 cheer for me as I came by (he was on his trainer). That helped me refocus on the race quite a bit. When I finished I was exhausted, but happy I finished and didn't fall. I stayed in the pedals the entire race except for the barriers and the last 2 feet of the 2nd sand pit on the last lap.

When I got finished the Cat 4 master's were already lined up at their start. I had no oxygen in my brain, but I knew I wanted to get pictures of Brians race, so I rode to the car and grabbed the camera and back to watch. I snapped a few but didn't catch him in any. I went to the sand pit and snapped a couple but was freezing and remember my jacket was at the start. As I rode past the parking lot Cooper yelled congrats and Christian said I finished 9th. I was like, no way. I kept going to get my jacket and rode back to check the finish. They were right! 9th out of 11 finishers with 1 DNF Ok, think. There were 3 laps to go so I changed into dry clothes and went back to watch the last 2 laps of Brian's race. I finally got a couple of decent pictures with him in the frames.

I started back on my Advair 2 weeks ago, one puff a day. Other than about 20 minutes of coughing after the race, I felt great. No wheezing! While I'd love to be drug free, I'm thinking that's a pipe dream. Between growing up with smokers and having smoked for 3.5 decades, I should be thankful I can ride and race my bike like I do.

I have great team mates and friends and family members. Yesterday was the best way for me to wrap up Thanksgiving weekend. I'm not sure I tell people enough throughout the year how thankful I am that they are part of my life. BUT please know this, I am so thankful you are. I love each one of you. You've given me good stuff.

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