You are hererace report
Sure, the Cross Crusade has the glamour and the "scene" - photographers out the wazoo, krazy kross kowbells, and even mini-movies each week! Still, the smaller Saturday races have a lot going for them.
At Heiser Farms, the organizer set up equal prize purses for the MenA and WomenA, which meant prize money ten deep! Jan and I figured (rightly) fewer than 10 WomenA racers would show - guaranteed prize money (or so we thought)! So, we carpooled down together.
In addition to prize money, I have two words: Pumpkin Cannon (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oD_dwQkB5Bs)
The course was slightly different this year. We parked in a different location and had a "lead in" section before reaching and repeating the "usual" main circuit.
Naturally, before the WomenA race, we did the Master's race. I got the "hole shot", but that didn't really matter because then we hit "the mud". This was not Barlow Mud. This was not Rainier Mud. If this mud was an alien life force, it would be close-encounter-of-the-seventh-or-eighth-kind-mud, because it was probing every corner of our bikes and bodies. Witness this mud in some photos. The course was so muddy that we only managed *three* laps in 45 minutes. Two endos and countless wipeouts later, I finished the MasterA race victorious! GPS Log of the MasterA race.
Sadly, Jan was unlucky at the start. Two minutes into the race a small pebble lodged in her derailleur and promptly tore it off. Game over. Phooey!
No time for celebration - I drank a bottle of water+malto+nuun (are you listening Jen?), then rode back to the start for the WomenA race! We were like muddy clowns sliding around. One would get up, fall back down, another would get up and fall back down, and so on. It was so much "racing" as "repeatedly falling in the right direction".
Then the rain stopped and the mud thickened. What started as slimy was now chunky. I have raced in a lot of mud and until that day, I have *never* had to stop and clear mud out of my bike. The mud kept caking on thicker and thicker and the wheels simply stopped turning! The bike weighed easily double its normal weight. It was so heavy I had to shoulder it just to get over the barriers. I stopped riding sections - not because I couldn't ride them - but because I didn't want the mud to collect on the bike. On the final lap, I caught and passed a rider and finished second! GPS Log of the WomenA race.
We hot-footed it to "Scott's Cycles" in Salem to get Jan's bike fixed. They stayed late and got her repaired and set up to race on Sunday. Then we hit the "Willamette Burger Company" in Salem at 14th and Broadway for excellent burgers and beers. Yum! Recommended! (Thanks to Tessa for the restaurant tip!)
Let's get one thing out in the open: I don't train. Not because I don't think it's a good idea--I'm just busy with other things, and as long as I can look like I trained, that's really just as good right?
However, this year, I did train a LOT for Cycle Oregon and I'm fresh off my fastest century ever in last weekend's Gran Fondo event in Hood River. So I figured I might possibly be a little faster than last year. After a couple of days of 20-60 miles of climbing, 45 minutes of racing seems like a walk in the park!
I have a few main rules for cross racing:
- Show up
- Have fun
- Don't get hurt
I'm happy to say that I met all of those goals this past Sunday at the opener to the Cross Crusade series.
It took forever to get ready as usual but at least I didn't have to wait in the gigantic line for the porta potties. That's because last year we won the team competition, and our prize is a porta potty of our very own, right near our tent. Thank goodness someone stuck a padlock on it because there were plenty of interlopers trying to get in. I think next week we'll have some decorations so that at least people understand why we're guarding it so closely. It was hard won, and no, we're not sharing. You'll have to beat us and take it! :)
My race prep consisted of a 10 minute warm up on the road and three practice runs getting of and on my bike. Then I showed up to the start line, feeling remarkably calm in the middle of the 300+ women waiting to start.
When my group of Master B's 35+ (I was almost carded at registration which was nice), was sent off we surged around the corner. I took it easy, making sure I had plenty of room. Lap 1 is actually my pre-ride and I tend to get better as the race goes on, so I don't kill myself for starting position.
The first thing I noticed was that a fake old west town had sprung up since my last visit to Alpenrose. That was kind of cool. No time to gawk though as then we were through it and into the bumpiest part of the course. Through some really loose dirt down a big hill--the outside line was clearly more treacherous and I made a note to avoid it next time. Rattle down the hill wishing for my MTB suspension and hoping my chain wouldn't come off--that prayer wasn't answered for a lot of people as I saw lots of women by the side of the course, fixing their chains.
Over all the course was fun. I didn't like the bone-shaker as I came to think of it, but the run-up wasn't too bad and the immediate 180 to go back down was a fun surprise on lap 1. There was too much traffic for me to get back on my bike so I had to run down on the first lap which sucked. I made sure I rode it the rest of the race.
I did four laps, which felt like more. Some highlights:
- Yellow jersey nemesis. We went back and forth for a while and I finally pulled her back only to hear that her chain came off after the last pass. I hope to beat her cleanly next week.
- Lots of personal cheering on course. I hear my name quite a few times and was also referred to by team, bike model and number. The kid on the north side of the course was so cute cheering everyone on by number: "You can do it 444!"
- Barriers. They went really well for the most part and I got compliments on a couple of my remounts.
- Nemesis #110. We also went back and forth and she was very hard to catch. She was clearly faster than me, but I caught her in a technical section just before the finish and managed to make it stick. I also had probably my best sprint finish ever and nipped someone at the line--not in my category, but still fun to do!
After the race, I saw a few racer friends. Rebecca from Bend, who I almost pushed over with a bad remount at Sherwood last year. Lindsey Kandra, who I met at the Fondo last weekend. Fresh off chemo and STILL lapping me. One of my Twitter friends came and introduced herself as well.
On the way back to the team tent, I sampled everything edible that anyone was handing out and bought some mango nectar. I'm excited that the Burgerville Nomad will be serving up food at all the races this season.
All in all, a great time out on the bike and it's fun to be back in the crazy pageantry that is cross. I hope to crank out a few more races before school completely takes over my life.
I made the trek out to Trout Lake to attend the OBRA Championship Road Race, competing in the Women's 30-39 category. I knew it was going to be ugly when I looked around and realized that I was the only non-climber in the field. Oh well it was a beautiful day, so I figured it wouldn't be *that* bad.
At the start of the race, I stayed with the pack, hoping to hold on as long as possible. Turns out, that wasn't very long. I was dropped, and good. I crested the hill much later with a good view of the road ahead. Not a soul.
Oh well. I forged ahead, enjoying a tailwind in places, and just taking in the scenery. I got a few cheers from volunteers and folks going the opposite direction (thanks Lynn!). The sweep van pulled up behind me. That pushed me along a bit-I didn't want these folks to have to wait for me while I leisurely rode along.
Then I hit the headwind. Ugh. Seriously considered climbing in the van for a moment, but I knew an awesome downhill lay ahead, and I wasn't going to do all that climbing and not enjoy the downhill! Still, it was discouraging, knowing I was dead last and would still have nearly 10 miles of hills after the downhill.
All of a sudden, I notice a Sorella coming at me. And she has race numbers on. It's Colleen! "Is something wrong?", I ask. "No, I just came back for you. The race up there is basically decided, so I thought I would pace you in." I was awestruck. Seriously? Coming back for me? Wow.
Colleen paced me over 15 miles! We caught 3 women (plus a couple of the men). I was still working pretty hard, so I wasn't much of a conversationalist (sorry!) She just kept encouraging me and didn't let me give up. If it wasn't for her, I would have been out there a looooong time. And then, at the finish, I gave it a little sprint, just to stay ahead of the last gal we'd passed and who had grabbed on to our little train. Finally done!
So even though it started off as the worst possible race scenario, it ended up being amazing! I can only hope to repay the kindness in the future. I really never thought anyone would voluntarily come back and race extra miles, as well as give up her own race. You're my hero, Colleen!