Doing it all the hard way...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

CX Nationals Day 2

Friday dawned clear and slightly warmer. We had been fearful that it would again be a single digit morning for our juniors who would start the racing for the day at the painful hour of eight o’clock. Fourteen degrees had never felt so warm. The field was small in both dimensions as about a dozen seventy pound girls took off at the gun for the first race of the day. Our own Claire finished fifth and was able to stand on the podium and bring home a medal. Sadly there were some little league parents who were seeking vicarious glory at the expense of their frozen children. I am glad to say our team was encouraging to our young riders without instilling any fear, guilt, or unrealistic expectations.

The course had gotten worse and worse each lap during my race the afternoon before. I figured that since the conditions were changing all the time, I questioned if I should take a few practice laps during the open course period at noon, since my race was at 3:30. I decided the benefit of riding the course was eclipsed by the hassle of changing into riding clothes, then changing into warm clothes post ride and changing again for my race.

I warmed up on the trainer and felt ready to go. The sun was warming the day and I decided to wear knee warmers instead of full legs as I had the first day. I put on my huge jacket and took it off in the starting grid. I was 134th in my field of 150. I hooked my helmet camera to my stem and shot video of the first two laps. I was lined up behind George Jackson who won my category in the Seattle Cyclocross series.

At the gun I took off, but I knew there would be a cluster at the first turn and I would be walking, so my motivation to hurry up and get in line was poor. After the first turn I was still on George’s wheel and I thought that was pretty good. I stayed upright and was doing well. A little past the pits, I swung wide on a corner and found myself on a bad line, and lost some places. At a tight turn a hundred meters later a few riders went down and others were stalled behind the crash and I moved past them and held my position.

When we got to the mini off camber I ran it and moved up some more places. I then bombed the cliff and was feeling pretty good. I held on up, across, down and back on to the mesa and passed some riders as we paralleled the pits. Sam was manning the pits and I appreciated his yelling on our behalf.

The fun part of the course allowed me to pass some more riders at the barriers and on the pave’. I rode the steep hill while others were forced to walk. This also gained me some places. I remounted and let it fly down the hill. I figured it was a bike with round wheels and if I just hung on and didn’t over think it the bike would do its thing and I would arrive at the bottom alright. This na├»ve approach worked fine for me.

Then I opened up on the approach to the finish line and tucked in front of another rider as we turned back onto the frozen stuff. The second lap was good and I passed some riders with power and at other times just by not going down. I was moving up on my teammate when I felt the horrible rumbling of a tubular going flat. I leaned way over the bars to take weight off my flat rear tire as I wasn’t too far from the pits. I entered the pits and tried to yell for Sam, but I was out of breath and my face was numb from the cold so my yell sounded more like a seal call.

Sam appeared and we had about the worst rear wheel change in the history of Cyclocross. I finally jumped on and was able to fly with the lack of traffic on the course. The lap times were quick and the size of the field meant I was already four minutes back on the first lap. I knew it was only a matter of time before I would be lapped and subsequently pulled from the race. I rode hard and on an icy corner where my tubulars had afforded me decent traction earlier, my rear clincher slid out and I found myself running as my bike slid on the ice alongside me. I quickly grabbed my orange machine and chased for the pack. On the fun side of the course I was indeed caught and pulled as I crossed the line. I had started 134th and finished 93rd, so I passed a fair number of riders before my race was called. I had been riding with George, and I count that as good and I was rumored to have been catching Big John, so tick off another one in the good category.

Sam was apologetic about the horrid wheel exchange, but I was philosophical and said it would help me prepare for my Championship of the Universe race Saturday night. I put on my big jacket and rode my put wheels back to the war wagon.

In short order we were back at the condo and after a wonderful, but short, hot shower we were eating salad, bread and spaghetti. After dinner I managed, to my absolute surprise, to repair my punctured tubie. I then put lights on my bike in preparation for my final race of 2009, scheduled for Saturday night.

Despite the good company we were all tired and soon we fell into bed.

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