Monday, August 27, 2012

And So It Begins...

The pit bikes

This weekend was the first cross race of the "season" for us - the Monson race put on by the Cyclonauts. We commented yesterday that we remember when we started this crazy sport, the first race was usually late September - now the "season" starts in August! Of course, that meant remembering what to pack, what the routines needed to be ... It was a good opener not only from a racing perspective, but also from an organizational one!

Monkey Vanderbacon
ripping the downhill
Of course, one of the prime benefits of the season starting is reconnecting with friends we haven't seen since the season ended in December. People say to me all the time that I must really like to ride/race my bike. The truth is that I like to hang out with cool people (and eat food and drink beer), and there are A LOT of cool people at a CX race! It was fun catching up, reconnecting, and making new friends. Fatmarc Vanderbacon and his wife even came all the way up from the mid-Atlantic for this one! 

Last year, I raced this course in the onset of Hurricane Irene. The conditions were muddy, wet and nasty, and I wasn't happy with how I raced or finished - I had a bad day on the bike mentally. I'm happy to report that this year, everything was the diabolic opposite from that (well, not sure how happy I was to be racing in almost 90 degree temps and eating a pound of dust...). This course has come a long way from its "jungle cross" beginnings, and I really liked all aspects. It was bone dry, and VERY dusty.

Mike looking strong
Mike's race went off early, and I ran around the course cheering and taking photos. He hasn't been doing too well in the heat (and did I mention yet that it was hot?), but managed to finish in 2nd place in his field - a strong finish for sure!

Later, I lined up on the start with about 15-20 other women - most of whom I know well from years of racing. There were some new faces though, including some trying out their first CX race ever! Unfortunately, I had a VERY bad start - as in 3rd last off the line bad. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but it wasn't good. I quickly moved up on the downhill pavement, but got caught behind a racer who unclipped going into the first off-camber uphill, and was forced to run. This put me behind, but I still didn't panic.
The only cool place
on the course!

I was solidly moving ahead when suddenly, despite pedaling, nothing was happening. The chain had come off the front chain ring and up onto the guides, forcing me to run up a [very] ride-able hill, and stop to get that chain back in the right place. I watched as at least 5 women passed me... 

The attack
Once I got rolling again I was determined to just race my race and do as well as I could. Slowly, I clawed back the women who had passed me with my mechanical. Then, I started to pass other racers who were ahead of me from the start. I never panicked - just kept my head down and focused on moving forward. On the final lap, I put in a hard attack to pass one more woman, and then knew I just needed to ride clean to the finish (though I did have sights set on one more who was only a bit ahead). Going into the final barrier, the chain once again got itself up onto the guides... DOH! Now, I did start to panic - mildly. Thanks to the encouragement from Mike and friend Eiric, however, I calmed down enough to put my foot on the chain, knocking it back onto the chain ring. From there, I buried it to the finish, maintaining my position.

Water feeds were required!
I ended up finishing 7th, and I am very happy with my result. Despite issues during the race, I stayed determined, calm and focused enough to pick my way back up through the field. It was a good start to the "season", and I am looking forward to the coming weeks and months!

1 comment:

Trigirlpink said...

Niiiiiice! After I saw that video of the first lap and then you had TWO mechanicals (???) that is AWESOME Cath!! Love the pix. You look RAD and FIT.