Day 1 - Saturday
Mike and I arrived early so that we could get a good parking spot, and get on the course before racing started at 9:00 am. It was a very cool 34 degrees when we arrived, so we waited just a bit for the sun to warm things up to about 40 before heading out. Three laps of the course told me that it was going to be FAST, and require a lot of power.
Since my race wasn't until noon, I played the cheering specatator for the 3/4 35+ race, and then making sure that Mike was all set for his race at 11:00. Heading down to his start, I bumped into gewilli (which, I was corrected, is pronounced gee-willi...). He had just finished his race, and seemed to be fairly happy with his finish. Thanks for cheering me on as well!
With Mike's race and mine so close together, I was only able to watch him as I warmed up on the trainer. He had a great race, though, and finished well in a very experienced field of racers (led by Johnny Bold and Kevin Hines).
I registered early, and had a great front-row starting position for my race. This turned out to be a good thing, given that our field started out with 52 women! I was nervous. At our team meeting prior to the race, I had asked everyone their goals, but had not revealed my own - I wanted a top 5 finish, and I was going to have to work my butt off for it.
When the whistle blew, I went out as hard as I could, knowing that the start was all important in this race. Roz P (Cambridge Bikes) flew past me like there were rockets attached to her bike, but I still ended up being the third woman into the field, quickly passed Roz (whose rockets abruptly died, it seemed), and was solidly in second place. Someone behind me hit my rear wheel/derailleur going into the first left-hand turn, but I knew I had to keep the pace up, so I didn't even look back. Held onto the same mentality when someone behind me went down on the small dirt uphill shortly thereafter - not sure if others got caught in the melee, but again, didn't look back to find out.
Cris R yelled for me to keep the foot on the gas as I ran up over the barriers, so I did, and I managed to hold that position for most of the lap, but drifted back into 4th by the end of the second lap. As I settled in, I came to the realization that if I was tired, so was everyone else. That gave me a little extra boost - time to take advantage of those tired competitors!
The rest of the race was fairly uneventful, but I did end up losing a couple more spots along the way. I was never so thankful to be lapped by Luke Keough as I was in this race - that meant that I didn't have to do 6 laps, only 5! I finished the race in 9th - didn't meet my original goal, but given my effort and the strenght and size of the field, I was really happy with a top 10 finish.
Click here to see pictures of NEBC teammates and friends from Saturday.
Day 2 - Sunday
Day 2 - Sunday
After the hard effort on Saturday, I decided upon hearing the course did not change not to do any pre-riding of the course on Sunday. This allowed me to relax and enjoy watching our friend Jaime in his first-ever 'cross race, and then cheer on our many friends in the 3/4 Masters 35+ race before having to start getting ready for my own.
For some reason, I was more nervous lining up on Sunday than I had been on Saturday. I think I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to improve on my results from Saturday, and to see if I couldn't achieve my top 5 goal after all.
I chased Libby and Roz for the hole shot, and ended up on the dirt again in second/third place. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to hold this position today. Why? Not sure. My legs felt great, but for some unknown reason, my bike couldn't figure out which cog it should be in on the rear cassette, and there was a lot of skipping around on the back.
I did play leap frog with a couple of women throughout the race, but was really frustrated with my shifting. The deafening cheers from friends and teammates definitely helped though. Coming up over the barriers, through the chicane section and again up the start/finish hill, the cheers were almost deafening at times. Thanks to everyone who cheered and encouraged over the two days of racing - it definitely helps when the motivation is low ;-).
With two laps left for me to race, I entered the chicane section to warnings that riders were down in the turn ahead. I kept my head up to be sure I could see any obstacles and WHAM! was hit from behind by a junior trying to pass in a very difficult spot. He completely wiped me out. At that point, I was frustrated already, and this just demoralized me. And then came Alex. Alex shouted at the top of her lungs "You will not give up!", pointing her finger at me, and running with me as I remounted my bike. That was the encouragement I needed - thanks, Alex (guess I should have been in the sandpit for you!).
Of course, going into the next turn, the NEXT junior decided to have a go at me, ramming into my shoulder as he tried to pass. Luckily, I managed to stay upright, and continue on with my race, bent brake hood and all! With one lap to go, I gave everything I had. I knew my teammate, Shannon, was right behind me, and I really didn't want her to beat me. Head down and hammer it out was the thought in my head, and you can definitely see that in the finish photo ;-). Today's finish - 14th, but only 3 seconds slower than yesterday. Guess some of those other women got their race legs on Day 2 ;-)
I had never raced Gloucester before this weekend, but I loved everything about it. It was an AWESOME course, great venue and very well organized. With a couple of weekends of back-to-back racing, however, I think we'll keep it low key next weekend as we get ready for Canton at the end of the month.
Click here to see pictures of NEBC teammates and friends from Sunday.