What do Oktoberfest and the Gloucester 'cross races have to do with each other? Absolutely nothing, but I felt the need to spread some Gemutlichkeit anyway, and to celebrate my roots (I come from a town in Canada that hosts the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany). At least the Erdinger folks thought it was clever!
I've been waiting all year for this race, since it's one of my favorites. The venue and course are fantastic, and at no other time during the season (ANY of the cycling seasons) will you find Women's 3/4 fields of over 60! I realized after a weekend of racing that there were women in my races whom I know, but never even saw...
Here are my top 10 learnings from this weekend at Gloucester:
- NEVER, EVER take it easy on a start. Hole shots count, and everyone wants it. Drafting will come LATER. I thought I would go a bit easier and try to get on a wheel, but that was a bad strategy out of the gate, and something I didn't do on Sunday.
- Hitting the ground at speed HURTS, even if it's grass. Recovering from hitting the ground at speed takes more than overnight.
- Crashing when you are fighting for a top 10 is VERY disappointing, especially when at least three people pass you while you are still on the ground trying to determine if you are ok.
- For one lap of a race that matters, I can ignore the hurt of a crash. Any climbing after the crash hurt pretty badly, but I ignored it to try and still finish the race strong.
- Finding out you finished a race and won a sprint with a wheel that wouldn't turn helps take some of the sting out of finishing outside the top 10. This is the ONLY time I ever wished for a Power Tap - I can only imagine the wattage required for that final sprint up the hill.
- Cheering and screaming friends can help and hurt. They helped me win the sprint ("Someone is right on your wheel - it's Michele!"), but for Michele, it meant she couldn't sneak by me ("Go get her, Michele!"). I have found this in previous races where someone I am trying to pass will make an extra effort when they hear someone on the sidelines yelling for you to pass.
- Running around the course taking pictures of your husband racing is NOT a good warmup ;)
- I suck at steep, loose run-ups.
- Try not to pull your main nemesis around for the final lap - she'll out sprint you at the end. I was ahead of Karen on Saturday before the crash, and for all of the race on Sunday. Unfortunately, I knew she was sitting on my wheel for most of the final lap and there was nothing more I could do. She beat me by 1 second.
- Wearing Lederhosen to a 'cross race attracts a lot of attention (and got me free beer)!
Mike had an awesome weekend of racing. He lined up in about the 5th row both days (not great starts in a well-stacked Master's 35+ field), and managed to work his way up and finish 16th both Saturday and Sunday (and coincidentally, I also finished 16th on Saturday...)! Great races for him in fields of between 85 and 90 starters. Unfortunately, Verge series points run 15 deep... Oh the agony.
Now we have to wait another whole year for Gloucester to come back around. I'll have to make sure to get the Lederhosen ready ;)