Happily, I have now had TWO good weekends of racing, with good races BOTH days! Hooray! What changed and made the difference? My recovery routine on Saturday was a big key change (I believe), and I also took another rest week (yes, Sara, that makes TWO!).
Canton Women's 1/2/3
I had a front row start, along with 12 other women! The tight grid lines and the fact that the right side (where I was lined up) narrowed to the left soon after take off made me pretty nervous. There is pictorial evidence of what a BAD start I had, but I'm too embarrassed for anyone to see them! Thankfully, by the top of the pavement, I had moved myself back up into the top 10 or so, and settled into the paceline. This was a good course for me - fairly flat, lots of power and pedaling, smooth corners. the removall of the uphill barriers and the chicanes before the "run up" meant that the dismounts were down to just two per lap, both for barriers.
I moved up in the first lap, and quickly found myself well inside the top 10. A bobble by a rider in front of me on a small incline put me off the bike, letting two other racers pass me by. I quickly caught back onto one, and had my good friend Michele with me as well. Now it was a game of tactics - drafting and resting where possible, making good attacks. Of course, wanting to drive, I pulled just a bit too long such that when Michele went around me on the last lap, I didn't have the snap I needed to jump right back onto her wheel. She bested me in the end by just 2 seconds, but I was pretty pumped to finish 8th in a 1/2/3 race!
Orchard CX SS
As sunny and nice as the weather was on Saturday, we had the complete opposite on Sunday with Hurricane Sandy starting a bit earlier than predicted. We drove up to NH through mist, then rain, and back to mist on a cool, miserable day. I love the Orchard Cross race though - this is the third year of the race (it was canceled last year because of a freak snowstorm - guess the hurricane was slightly better), and the orchard welcomes us with open arms. It's really family friendly with a petting zoo, face painting, delicious apples, butternut squash bisque (I wait all year just for this soup!), and a costume race.
|Jenn and Kristen|
|Teri aka Cupcake|
We arrived early enough to watch the costume race, socialize, check out the course and partake in some yummy bisque. The SSCX race was the last of the day (note to promoters - can we mix this up a bit next year? It's no fun ALWAYS being the last race.) and I was trying to be careful about the amount of walking and standing I was doing. You see, I knew that I needed to get a recovery in between Saturday and Sunday if I was going to have a good performance - I had done the right things on Saturday, getting in a recovery drink right after the race, eating some food, spinning out the legs, and then resting. I was hoping this would pay off for me on Sunday.
By 3:30, the drizzle was still steady (not rain so much as a constant mist) and the course had some slick corners to it, but it wasn't terrible. I was excited to see about 7 women on the line for our race! I didn't get a good start (again), but was able to quickly move forward and sit about 4th wheel. Not too far into the first lap, Kerry went down in front of me. I managed to get around her, she passed me back, and then fell again later. I got around her a second time, and buried myself to try and stay ahead. I was able to put down some power on the flat sections, and could gap Allison who was sitting in 4th, but she could close the gap slightly in the tighter, twistier sections of the course. Thankfully, I managed to stay ahead, and finish on the podium in a strong group of women!
I was excited about the weekend's performances, but wasn't yet ready to go shouting from the rooftops. I wanted to see if I could get another good weekend in the books...
|Photo: Pete Banach|
What the heck am I doing on the pointy end of the bike race?!?!?!?
As we were standing waiting to be staged, I suddenly realized that for the first time in 7 years of CX racing, I had my number pinned on the wrong side! What a rookie move! Thankfully Don S. was on hand to re-pin me as we staged. Many thanks to him for that!
I somehow found myself staged in the front row. Remember that embarrassing start at Canton? I do! And I was really nervous about completely blowing it. Instead of letting any butterflies get off the ground though, I focused - I envisioned a smooth, fast start, finding my pedal and just going. And it worked! Before I knew it, I was sitting second, and then third wheel on the pavement! I was at the head of the bike race! Wait - what?!?!?!? Yup - before I knew what was happening, I was LEADING the race. I couldn't believe it! But I felt great.
|Ahead of teammate Roni - for now.|
I did manage to catch back onto the lead group finally, but by the time I did, I was pretty much done. I hung on to a tight finish - between first and eighth (where I ended up) was a mere 22 second gap. Now that's racing!
I followed my new post-race routine on Saturday to ensure that I wouldn't have a bad performance on Sunday, and cheered Mike on to a solid second place finish in his race.
The course had some changes on day 2, some I thought were good, and others, not as much. I didn't care, for instance, for the hard right hand turn into a half spiral at the start. I knew that this was where the selection for the race would be made, and that for others, it would be a giant cluster.
I got quickly clipped into my pedals and had a decent start. I tried to move up on the far left, but most of the field had gone right (it was marginally shorter), and a number of people got by me. My line turned out to be a blessing, however, as I managed to avoid whoever had crashed on the right hand turn, quickly avoid the next crash on the left, jostle with other racers trying to stay upright, and focused only on finding a hole in the giant cluster of racers. Finally free, I put my head down and buried myself to try to minimize the spots I had lost. Looking ahead, however, I could see that my prediction was right - the leaders of the race had separated in the first section of mayhem, and the likelihood of catching was pretty minimal.
We had a blast hanging out with good friends and teammates all weekend as well. It was especially fun to catch up with Marc and Vicki, who we haven't gotten to see much of this season. It was at this very race in 2008 that I met Vicki and reconnected with Marc after not seeing him since our days together at UW.
In between all of the excellent racing, we got to celebrate my favorite holiday as well - Halloween! Now if I could just stop eating the leftover candy, I might be able to continue with some decent performances in the coming weeks.