Saturday, October 22, 2016

Race Report: DCCX (Day 1 W 3/4)

Quick race report before I forget everything!

DCCX is a big deal around here. It's a UCI C2 race, so it draws bigger names, like Katie Compton! For that reason, I expected the racing to be extra tough. And I was not wrong.

I arrived at 8 to watch teammates race, even though I wasn't racing until noon. After the beginner races finished, I got on the course to check it out. And I had no brakes. I could slow down a little bit, but I definitely couldn't stop. I'm still new to disc brakes. I wasn't sure what was wrong or how to fix it. I managed to do most of one easy loop of the course without dying, then headed back to our team tent to see if anyone on my team would have a fix. On the ride back, it occurred to me that I washed all my bikes on Thursday, so I probably got lube or soap or degreaser or something on the rotors. I was veeeeeery nervous about racing with essentially no brakes. Ninety percent of the course was just fine; I could scrub enough speed to take all the corners well and not wash out or crash. But there were a few steep drops where I couldn't get enough braking power to slow myself for a turn. I was borderline on starting the race.

Fortunately, my teammate Sean (top 10 in his race) knew to take off the brake pads (I didn't know how to do that) and hold them over an open flame to burn off any contaminants. We did that for the front and back brake pads (he even put off making his coffee to do this for me over his camp stove). And that solved the problem! I could stop again!

I had a feeling the 3/4 field would be tough, so my goal was to push as hard as I could, focus on clean turns and good line choice, and not sweat my placement. I started in the fourth or fifth row, but rode up the inside to get a halfway-decent spot going into the first turn. The first part of the course was leg-smashing, but my cornering was on-point. I felt pretty good about the number of women I passed early on.

The course was bumpy, with lots of holes and exposed roots. It was also very windy today, which dried the course out from the rain we got last night. By the time I raced, the course was dusty, only damp in one or two places. It's also a pretty long course. But it's interesting; there are so many different features that it was very engaging.

I mostly did great! My cornering was much better this week, helped along by lower tire pressure. I pushed hard (probably too hard at places) and played to my strengths, I think. Unfortunately, the mistakes that I did make were kind of catastrophic. Not broken collarbone catastrophic, but I probably lost 5-6 places total in the last 2 laps because of mistakes I made. At one point, I was coming down a hill at a good clip, hit a root, went airborne, and did not come down on my wheels. I came down on a side. It took me out at a place where momentum is really beneficial, too--right before the stairs. I was so shaken up after the crash that I couldn't get my leg back over the bike, and it took me several seconds to get going again. On that same lap, I took the wrong line on a steep-but-ride-able hill and had to unclip, then couldn't get clipped back in. That was right before the barriers, and so my rhythm was all wonky going into the barriers.

The most costly error, though, was on the my last lap. I had just re-passed three women, and got over the barriers clean. But when I went to get back on my bike, I turned my wheel and ended up in the tape. I was so stressed and tired and amped-up that I could not get my foot clipped in. Lost the three places I'd just gained, and never got them back. I was red-lined after that, and it took me most of the rest of the lap to get to where I could put power down again. By that point, it was too late to re-catch anyone. Meh.

I ended up 24th with three big bruises (wrist, knee, and ankle) and a series of puncture wounds on the back of my leg from where I whacked my calf on my chain ring. I think that happened when I hit the root and crashed. I wish I had a picture of that crash. It was probably ridiculous.

I'm going to go back and do the cat 4 and 3/4 race tomorrow. I'll try hard in the 4 race, but I plan to cruise the 3/4.

Until then!

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