Oct 12, 2008

so that's what it feels like to race cross!

today i finally, finally! got a taste of what everyone is talking about in regards to a cyclocross race. there was dry heaving, there was blurry vision, there were thoughts of throwingupbutsaveittilltheraceisover, there was omgthisissofuckinghardicantbelieveit, there was pleasedeargodwhenisitover and it was awesome.

i pre-rode the course with my husband and could not hide the shit eating grin on my face. within seconds of starting to ride it, i totally, absolutely loved the course. this course was mine. it was made for me. and this has never happened. it was all swoopy and flowy and had a bunch of long climbs including one crazy one after the dreaded downhill 180 degree turn into steep climb and two ginormous sand pits and very little crazy jacked up technical shit and it was perfect. it was 'cross course love at first ride.

they did call ups again at the start and i love the call ups. this was a UCI 1 race, which means it's the big time. i thought friday's field was deep, but it had nothing on today's' field. i think there were about 30 women lined up - about 15 in my race (masters' women 35+). usually, as i sit on the line of a 'cross race, i'm scared shitless about what lays ahead. i'm worried about turns or barriers or remounts or trees or getting impaled by a stake should i fall into one, or maybe an eagle will come out of the sky and pluck me off my bike. but today? i was so excited about the course, i could not wait to start riding it again. could. not. wait.

so the whistle blows and we're off. these races usually start on a wide open road and then turn into a narrow opening - the hole shot. (which is another one of those things that scare the bloody shit out of me). but i was not dead last going into this turn and the fact that i was just pumped to ride the course and not dead last at the start was a great feeling.

so i'm racing. and i'm really racing for the first time ever. there's no death grip on the bars, i feel good, in control and relaxed. that said: my mouth is parched, and i sorta want to throw up and i am riding so hard that at times its' hard to see, and i am not even thinking about the turns, or the stakes or the fact that i have brakes on my bike or how many girls i have passed because counting them off would have taken too much brain power. i am amazed at how fast i can do the little downhill and keep some serious speed into the uphill with a turn at the top and when i turn and my back wheel skids out a bit, but i keep pedaling and realize i didn't die, and i think i am totally cool and badass.

and thinking "you are rocking this race" and "i totally love this course" is infinitely better than: "you are not cut out for this" and "you're a pussy, hang it up".

in the past three races, i always finished with a ton left in the tank, because my skills and energy level (and irrational fears) never quite jived with each other. i would slow down and brake too much when things got too technical or when i was coming upon anything i deemed remotely "scary". but today's course suited me so well, i was finally able to race as hard as my energy level would allow. i left it all out there. finished with nothing left in the tank. i finally got to feel what it is like to race 'cross. really race it - not ride timidly for two laps and have a good last lap, but to race it right from the whistle to the very end. and its' awesome.

my stellar race was not the only awesome thing about the day. i met judi and dominic, and we totally chatted and hung out for a bit both before and after my race - and i heard judi cheering for me as i hit one of the sand pits (running, not riding!). i'm pretty sure they loved the whole cyclocross thing - i don't even know dominic, but definitely saw a little twinkle in his eye and am willing to bet there are two more 'cross converts in the world!

and then this: georgia gould might just be the coolest chick ever. she races in the later afternoon elite pro races, but is at the course for the first races in the morning; she's on the sidelines, with a cowbell cheering everyone on. and i mean everyone. no matter who you are or where you are in the pack, she has something specific to say to you that keeps you going. i heard her at the barriers say "i know it hurts girl, keep going". omg. georgia gould just said she knows how i feel and told me to keep going. i heart georgia gould.

it was a big 3 race weekend of cyclocross - i raced 2 days and my husband raced all three (and is currently in a post race stupor of a coma on the couch - the beer may fall out of his hand and hit the floor momentarily). my husband got a top ten on saturday and sunday and a sweet 2nd place podium on friday. every woman on my team who raced got a top 10 finish (in ginormous fields!) each day including yours truly.

but now, my house looks as if we've been racing all weekend and we have usgp houseguests coming soon and i need to clean the house and the airstream and get banners and business cards made and get back to real life. as soon as i come down from my 'crossy high.


Groover said...

OMG how did you do it? What was different? How did you draw it out? Please, please share the secret. I so often finish with heaps in the tank and don't knw how to stop thinking when I'm racing ...

bsegal said...

First off, how did you finish Sunday? It sounds like you conquered the same beast that I havent-your head(or mine in my case).
That sounds so amazing, feeling the flow, carrying the speed thru the curves.
And georgia gould is a rock star coolest chick in the pros. The entire crowd seems to pull for her. I cant believe you or Steven had energy enough to type.
Congrats on a great race!!

zanne said...

groover - the secret was a little confidence. going into the race excited (in the good way, not the jacked up anxious way) & confident instead of scared shitless was all i needed. the course had a lot to do with it too ... it was amazing & so perfect for me. it did have two fairly technical off-camber around-a-tree turns for which i did slow down a bit, and i did have some chants (look where you want to go look where you want to go) going on in my head ... but all the other turns were so flowy and practically intuitive that i could keep up my speed. it was entirely just feeling confident about the course & knowing i didn't have to hold anything back due to fear - i could go as hard as i possibly could, and just ride without all those negative scary thoughts in my head.

brian - i finished 7th! not bad in that huge field ...there was actually a point at which i thought i was 3rd or 4th, but realized most of the girls i was passing were in the women's open. i'm so excited to have finally had such a great experience - i was getting really frustrated with my level of suckage ... i'm sure there will be more suckage & more bad races, but so nice to see i actually can do this. (remounts,, however, are something else altogether!!)

and yeah - energy to write the race report fueled completely from post race high!

Cindy said...

great job! it's also my goal to finish every race with atleast one big dry heave. then i know i've given all i can. of course, i guess actually tossing bits might show it more...i checked out the link: are your house guests going to be that hot? can i come over?

Anonymous said...

I swear, it was the beer. What did Steven say about not wanting to race on your legs? HA!

Laurel said...

Great job to you and your husband! Sounds like a blast!

Judi said...

Zanne, you were awesome! It was so fun to hang out and see you race! Your husband is a sweetie too. I am on D for a cx bike now. He's gonna be building me bikes all winter, lol. We ARE gonna race next year, I just wish we could this year like NOW. Let me know the next time you are gonna be here!!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear you felt it this time! That's awesome. I had some pleasedeargodwhenisitover this weekend too, but it didn't feel that good.

Gotta Run..... said...

So cool that you got to meet Judi.

Love the recovery drink that you use :)

You are SO beyond bad-ass... seriously!!!

ItchyBits said...

I.hate.you!!!!!! Not really but I am sooooo jealous.

Frayed Laces said...

It's amazing to read how far you've come with your bike. I remember when you first started out and how scared you were (like me now!)

Hopefully with time I can be as fearless as you!

zanne said...

frayed - thanks! i have to keep remiding myself how far i have come too. you'll get there - just keep riding!

betty - sorry. i can make it up to you though! you need to email me: suzanne(at)bikeclicks(dot)com. write "mercer cup" in subject so i know its you!

gotta run - it was so fun to meet judi ... she's a great girl. i bet we'll be lined up at the start of many cx races next year - the girl is hooked!

prickly - thats funny. sorry to hear that!

laurel - thanks! once its over, it is indeed a blast!

cindy - yeah, you gotta have those "maximum effort gauges". when i was running & going all out for the finish line, i knew if i peed in my pants a little, then i gave it my all. on the bike: its dry heaving or little bit of throwup in my mouth. and thats just a nice little bit of tmi for ya.

judi - ditto! excited for you & your newfound love of cross! hope to see you at GunClub race in Miamiville! (Nov. 2nd)

caroline - exactly. totally think it was the beer and the relaxing, fun night the night before!

Nat said...

you make me believe I could do something like this if I tried. I love these.

Well done. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That's so amazing and awesome. I love it! Hey....what time do you and Steven race USGP on Sunday the 25th? I want to yell and scream for you guys.