The routine has become so entrenched in our weekends it happens almost without effort. "What time do we need to leave in the morning?" Hottie asks dreading the answer. Whatever my reply, it is followed by a pause, a sigh and then she says, "okay." Camera batteries are charged and lenses and umbrellas are packed and I stuff my bike clothes into a bag.
Well before the sun is up my alarm goes off and I brew up coffee and we chase it down with some corn grits. I load up the war wagon and pretty much on time, we are off. This morning took a little longer as I had to scrape the ice off the windshield. Yep, as male cyclists say, "it was going to be a shrinker."
I knew exactly where I wanted to put up the tent and we got that prime spot. There was thick milky fog and everything was wet or icy. We had epic rains all week and the course was as muddy as promised. For the first races there was a stretch of dry mud alternating with puddles. After three races it had turned into one long brown milkshake of mud.
|If is was less grey and had whip cream on it you would be looking for a straw..|
The fog was sticking around and I was putting on more and more layers. I took some laps wearing full tights and rain pants on my bottom and a wicking long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, fleece jacket, team jacket and plastic rain jacket and a beanie and I did not overheat. I did succeed in warming up. We also had Mr. Heater working all day.
By race time the fog was gone and it was a tad warmer. I applied some embrocation and chomped down some shot bloks. My plea for some medical help earlier in the week had yielded some results and I was finally feeling better. I tried to not think about the week I took off trying to recover...
McWoodie came to cheer us on and gladly collected clothing at the start allowing us to delay the chill as long as possible. At the whistle I took off more aggressively than I have most of this season. I fought for my spot and jumped ahead of El Jefe and took a deep breath as we approached the gravel. I made the corner and took the right side while almost everyone else took the left. I gained a few spots and felt like I was racing again.
At this point I realized how much my head had been affected by my heath this season. In some races I just put in the effort and waited to be passed. This day I was pushing. In the maze at the top I held my spot. I took the conservative, but smart, path and ran the downhill/uphill feature. I passed four riders on the first lap and felt good. I also took the left line on the run up and gained a spot there.
In the mud I applied my Portland experience and took the center line and did just fine.
The laps stretched out and I was holding my ground. With one to go and deciding this was the last race for me, I was pushing and pushing hard. The first couple single speeders caught me and I was keeping a good pace. I continued to run the down/up and then slide my back wheel on the following descent.
A spill on my next to last lap gave me some blood on my knee and put a smile on my face as I didn't loose a spot because I sprang up like I had planned the crash all along.
The pirate took forth on the day and managed to take second in the series and a ticket to race with the Cat 1/2's next year. Big John had another mechanical and El Jefe never caught me so I was the top Thug for our team. I took 24th out of 43 which I am counting as a victory and calling it a season.
We cheered on our teammate Hot Pants in the final race as we broke down the tent and packed up. On our way home we were treated to a beautiful sunset. I washed the bike and clothes in the dark.
Next week is the Washington State Championship and our team is one of the sponsors so I'll be there working. There is an off chance I could ride so I didn't do my final bike cleaning and storage preparation. I sure enjoy the shower when I get home. I find blood in places and I have no idea how it got there. I did smear antibiotic cream on my knee, fingers and hip. I didn't have a medal around my next, but I did enjoy this season.
I warmed up wearing shoe covers that were so tight I had to fight to get them on. They kept my feet so dry that for the first time ever, I raced in shoe covers.