Sunday, October 16, 2016

Race Report: Hyattsville CX

I need a haircut. And a diet.
Image courtesy of Ben at Dominion Cycling Photography.
I was starting my race report for today's race at Schooley Mill CX when I realized that I never reported on Hyattsville CX! I'm sure you've all been checking your feeds hourly in hopes that I would post something--anything--describing my experience. So let me rectify my oversight, so you can all sleep well tonight.

I only signed up for the 3/4 women's combined race for two reasons: 1) There are no series points recorded in the women's 4 field for the Super 8 series, and for some reason I thought that I would get some series points; after racing in the 3/4 combined field, I have realized that I probably won't. 2) I'd originally thought that I would be in Ohio or Pennsylvania until the morning of, and I was much more confident about getting back to the DC metro in time for a noon race than an 8:15 race. Turns out that I didn't go to my cousin's wedding in Ohio after all; instead, I had to go back for an uncle's funeral the weekend before. I could have signed up for the women's 4 race the day-of, but chose to sleep in instead.

Hyattsville CX came a day after the DC metro had been smashed with rain. The course was very muddy, the highlight being a chicane that had turned into a mud pit. The mud was 3-4" deep, much faster to run than to ride. Other highlights of the course were a curb hop and a log that was half-buried at the top of a steep (but ride-able) hill.

I was seeded third or fourth row back. The woman in front of me had trouble clipping in and I got a poor start. Then I got caught up behind some ladies who were taking the steep (but ride-able) hills through the woods slowly, leading to someone in front of me falling over after coming to a sudden stop. So we got bottle-necked in the woods and had to run up the steep (but ride-able) hill. After that was a section of loose, thick gravel on a steep decline. It was okay to ride, but kind of sketchy. Riding it on that first lap involved dodging runners, which precluded taking the best line and slowed it down. There were some good power sections on the lap, where I tried to make up time. But the gap that built early on was too much for me to catch anything, and I probably wasn't strong enough to pull the leaders back, anyway. My legs lacked snap.

Other highlights include:
  • Realizing that, while it may be faster to run through the mud than ride, it winded me so much that I chose to ride it instead. It wasn't faster during, but after I had more energy, and it became a place to attack.
  • Falling FOR NO REASON AT ALL immediately after the mud pit on my last lap. I think my wheel might have gotten stuck in a rut while I was trying to accelerate, but it was a really stupid place to fall.
  • Ignoring the hand-ups, in spite of the fact that I was sitting around 15th, because I wanted to take the race seriously. I totally regret that, now.
  • Being unable to clip-in on the last lap because I run SPD pedals and they got clogged with mud.
  • Falling into a guy who was standing just past the barriers when I tried to remount my bike and missed. Apparently, I was tired.
  • Failing to pay attention to the lap counter board or the lap bell which I totally heard from the other side of the course and thinking I had one lap to go when I was, in fact, finished. Additionally, the lead woman in the 1/2/3 field had passed me. There were three sources of information telling me that I was on my last lap and I missed all of them. So I came screaming through the finish line, ready to lay it all on the line on the last lap, and people were yelling at me to stop. I was so mad. I kept asking my teammates, "Why didn't they tell us? Why didn't they tell us?" After I had food in me and was no longer on the edge of puking, I realized that I had those three indicators that my race was over and didn't pay attention to any of them.
  • My teammate, Kim, got 6th in the women's 4 race and won a piece of pie! And my other teammate, Beth, got 6th in the women's 3/4 and also won a piece of pie! And my teammate, Eric (a.k.a. Mr. Podium) won his race and is the current series leader in the men's 45+.
So lessons learned. Starts in CX are super-important, duh. I should probably switch to something that sheds mud better, like Crank Brothers pedals or Speedplay Frog pedals. But I'll probably put it off, because I don't want to spend the money right now. And pay attention to what's going on in the races around you! You may be on your last lap!

Also, I'll do the beginner 4 fields as much as possible. I can be more competitive in those. I'll use the 3/4 races to practice my lines and technique. And to take hand-ups. Nobody gives hand-ups at 8:15 a.m.

I ended up 15 out of 24, and I didn't feel like I'd done my best. I was eager to redeem myself. And I think I did, this weekend. More on that tomorrow.

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