i couldn’t sleep at all the night before the race. well truth be told, i fell asleep, but then i woke up around 2 am and my head was filled with visions of dismounts & remounts and not being able to dismount in time and or getting impaled by one of the stakes on the course and my husband later asked me if i ever heard of anyone getting impaled by a stake on a cross course and i have to say no. so, as usual; most of my fears are completely irrational. my husband says – it’s ‘cross racing. its supposed to just be fun. just have fun. race your race.
registration was a cluster (and i was pre-registered to avoid such a cluster). i had registered for womens’ open but later regretted that choice. i had hoped they would be able to switch me to the master’s womens’ group, (solely on the assumption that i would place better in masters! - and actually, i would have placed 3rd) but the volunteer was in the weeds to put it mildly and i had no chance in hell of getting switched. open women’s race it was. registration was such a cluster that 3 days later results are still not up. (the insane winds from hurricane ike and subsequent loss of power probably have much to do with it!) i have no idea where i came in - all i know is i was not dead last - believe it was somewhere in front third! phew.
i was able to squeeze in a quick pre-ride of the course and it was just enough to freak me the hell out. course overview: tons of crazy short steep hills that went into crazy steep short downhills that went into crazy tight 180 degree turns that went back up into more crazy shorty steep uphills to a 180 degree turn downhill. ride. rinse. repeat. hopefully you get the picture. sadly – my husband said this was nuthin’. the course was easy. there were 2 sets of barriers. no sand. damn. and i had done so much sand practice.
i had a great starting position going through the first turn. my mantra was “race your own race”. i was confident that the hills might slow some girls down and i could start picking them off at some point. but that point came too late in the race, i rode way too timidly and cautious for the first two laps – i had a whole, itsmyfirstcrossraceimjustrtyingtosettleinandseehowitallgoes
excuse going in my head. i was just trying to breathe. at the first set of barriers i miraculously dismounted & hippity hopped over them & got back on my bike and on my merry way. well truth be told, i wasn’t feeling merry. i was mostly feeling hot and thirsty. *now that i have written this i have seen the picture of the "hippity-hop" over the barrier. it's not pretty.
now. in addition to the crazy steep shorty uphills into 180 degree downhill turns there was a lovely, fairly straight and dare i say normal patch of the course; followed by a crazy shit tight S turn with a pine tree in the middle of it. i almost crashed into this pine tree on every lap; but saved myself every lap - i looked away from the tree and tried to look around the turn (this was tough in that the tree blocked your view of the turn). looking where you want to go as opposed to where you are afraid to go is nothing short of miraculous in saving you from where you don’t want to go.
so i’m riding. i’m riding. and it’s hot. it’s really hot. and i’ve never been so parched in my life and i want a hand up but i told my husband i’d be fine and i’m envious of the girl with the camelback. i want to be her. mostly, i just want her camelback. i can’t hear any cowbells and i want some. more hills. come on come on come on. you love hills. more downhills. holy crap this is steep. get back in the saddle. don’t touch the brakes don’t touch the brakes. more crazy tight turns. for the love of god girl look where you want to go. omg. please do not get tangled in that tape. dismounting is a crap shoot. sometimes i nail it. sometimes i’m stuck in my pedal. remounts are not a crap shoot but almost impossible. i. am. so. tired. what number is he holding up? 1? only 1 more lap? that was faster than i thought. one more lap. ok. that girl is pretty close. go pass her. good. now go pass that next girl. ok. i got the hang of this now. oh. bummer for you to have gotten hung up in that pine tree. i am going to pass you now. oh. hey. am sorry to see that you are having trouble on this hill and about to fall over. i am going to pass you now. ok. ok. i get it now! i get it!
i don’t know how many girls i passed on that last lap but it was without a doubt, my best lap. i found all my mojo on the last lap - finally got my head wrapped around the whole thing two laps too late.
i could have worked harder. i mostly know this because when i finished the race i did not want to throw up. nor was i doing any dry-heaving throughout the race. apparently this is a part of cx racing that i missed out on & i think it has a direct correlation to the fact that i was not working all that hard. i wasted my first two laps trying to find my way. but its ok. i got a bunch more races.
next one is in two weeks. i know what i really need to work on now. the best part? when its over. and you are sitting on the steps of the airstream, with a beer in hand. watching the next race going by. the best part is knowing that last year you were content to watch and cheer, but this year you are one of them.