|Wasn't it a beautiful day for racing?|
Saturday morning was beautiful for cross. A gentle chill was in the air, but the sky was bright blue and the sun was bright in the sky. I pre-rode the course (one which I'd never done before) and really enjoyed it! One of my teammates had mentioned that there was a lot of elevation change in it. That always worries me, but this was the kind of elevation change that suits me, with mostly short, punchy climbs that reward raw power over power-to-weight ratio. Also, there was only one place where I'd have to get off my bike, and I always love that. If I wanted to run I'd go back to triathlon, amirite?
I got a great start from the front row, but settled in at second wheel behind a woman I know is strong (she beat me at Schooley Mill). She was cornering better than me. I had to expend a little extra power after each turn to keep the gaps down. The whole 3/4 field was strung out behind us, too. I took a downhill left-hander a little too wide and went right into a stake. While I was disentangling my handelbars from course tape, the whole field passed me. I went from second to last, just like that. I was able to work my way back up to third using the power climbs in the first half of the course. Then we went downhill into a little pump section, a double hump where you could catch some serious air. I thought, "I got this. I'm gonna send." So I sent it. I probably caught about a foot off of that jump. And I did manage to land it, although my expensive carbon bike made a horrible sound, my handlebars slipped down, and I crashed (softly). I got up as quickly as I could and tried to adjust my handlebars, but nothing doing.
The position was awkward, with my drop about 3 inches lower than normal, but it was rideable. So I rode it around to the pit and grabbed my pit bike. Friend, teammate, and all-star mechanic Clay was in the pit for me (and teammate Beth, who was racing the 1/2/3s) and he had my A bike back together by the time I came around the other side of the pit. I pitted again and set off to try to re-capture some places.
That went pretty well for a while, and I think I worked myself back up into 4th (although I had no idea where I was sitting in the standings at that point). Another woman and I were trading 4th place--I would pull ahead on the short power stuff, she would pull ahead on the long drags--until the last time going over a log onto a long run-up. I was just about to pass her, but when I tried to re-mount after the log, I couldn't pedal. My rear quick release had come loose and the wheel had unseated. I fiddle around with it while 5th place passed me. I thought I had it fixed and started running with 5th, but when I tried to re-mount, I still couldn't pedal. I fiddled with my quick release a little more. Then 6th place passed me. I finally got my rear wheel sorted. At that point, I wasn't angry or frustrated. Really, what can you do? I rode as hard as I could to see if I could gain any more places, and was able to pass one woman to take 6th in the field.
In retrospect, the racing itself didn't feel that hard. At one point, I even asked myself, "Why am I not going harder?" Like last weekend at DCCX, my brain held me back more than my body. Two stupid mistakes cost me big-time in the first half of the race. And I'm lucky I didn't hurt myself going over that jump; a guy later in the day crashed there and broke six ribs. It would be easy to say, "If only x and y hadn't happened, I would have been on the podium." But x and y didn't happen to me; I happened to me! I made those mistakes, and the people on the podium were able to race clean (or mostly clean).
Even with all that happened, I had a fantastic time. I wasn't mad or frustrated (or crying, like last weekend) at myself; I was laughing! The errors I made were silly, and this is just a game. A fun game with bruises and heckling and beer. Plus, the day was beautiful, the course fun (for me), and the weather gorgeous.
Going into Biketoberfest, I was sitting second in the overall for the Sportif Cup, and the leader wasn't racing. I did enough (just barely) to hold off third place for the lead, so at South Germantown CX I get to wear this cool jersey!
|It'll go well with my hair.|