Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bend USGP Round 2

The good thing about a 2nd day of racing is you can learn from the first and try to improve. My start position (based on random draw) was even worse than the 1st day - dead last row this time - couldn't do anything about that! My goal was to stay clear of any carnage that might happen and not end up on the ground this time. Success. I stayed on the bike, and although I was still pretty close to the back of the pack it was better than before. 

As I was with the pack this time it was frustrating having to slow down going into all the corners as the racers backed up in them. Kind of a new experience for me as I just don't get to race against that many gals locally and I'm usually near the front of the pack. Everyone wants to be ahead of everyone else, so there's a lot more aggression, vying for position than I'm used to too. Sticking with my plan of not ending up on the ground I stayed as calm as I could and patiently waited for things to thin out a bit before starting to make my way up through the pack. 

Slowly by surely I did pick my way through the last quarter of the pack. Each racer I passed was a small success and spurred me on to the next. I'd catch glimpses of team mate Kristi ahead of me, and I would have loved to have bridged up to her, but never got close enough to make it worth that extra effort. Racing felt harder this time - likely fatigue from the previous day, but could also have been that the temperatures had dropped to around freezing and along with the wind chill  I was actually fighting to stay warm too. Now that's a new experience for me during a CX race!

2nd to last lap I made a silly mistake and went down in a tricky loose off-camber section and managed to open up the road rash I had from the crash on day one - ouch! Got back on and didn't lose any places though, just a little ego deflation as it had been a clean race until then. 

I rolled across the finish line in 25th place - not stellar, better than the previous day! By pure placing, technically my worst weekend of racing CX this season, but I can honestly say I've had a great weekend stepping up to the challenge of racing against the nation's top women. It's only by putting oneself through these challenges that we can learn and improve ourselves. I've learnt a lot this season, but still have a lot more to learn.

Think I might be back next season??

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Blindsided in Bend

4th row call up not good. Taken out on first lap not good. Dead last not good. Been here before. Stay calm. Work hard. 29th not good, but not bad either. Better luck tomorrow?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

State of Play

Ok, confession out of the way first. I actually enjoyed this pancake flat, non-muddy, non-technical course in Arlington that hosted the WA State Championships. And no, I'm not saying that because it was designed and built by CycleU-PopCap Team Director Chad Berg (I think I cursed him to his face the week before) but because during a race things change big time.

The speed and chaos of racing makes seemingly innocuous turns much tighter and technical than a pre-ride can reveal. Chicanes breaking up the straight-a-way sections were evil genius - high speed had to be scrubbed quickly for the corner and then immediately you had to be back on the gas to power back up to speed. Rhythm broken, no real rest, and then an anaerobic burst. 

Chad did his utmost to make the sandy section as unrideable as possible (with a rototiller at 6am in the morning) but racers just kept on packing it down to make a 6inch solid line through it. However, racers still went down and the trick was avoiding these obstacles without getting into too much trouble in the softer sand. 

The morning was frosty and socked in with fog, but by the time we made it up to Arlington the sun had seared a nice little hole around the race course so everything was glowing with vitamin D. After last week's mudfest it was nice to know that clean-up wasn't going to take longer than the race itself.

I had a poor start, but team mate Kristi had a great one and got the hole shot going into the first corner which funneled everyone into a tight twist through some trees. I was sitting 3rd wheel when 2nd place went down in the corner. Argh! I really didn't want to join her down there, so slammed on brakes and narrowly averted plowing through her. I don't know if everyone avoided her behind me, but it did cause considerably chaos and as I emerged from the corner I saw that Kristi had a considerable gap on the rest of us. Hmm, my usual response would be to go harder to catch back up, but why help anyone on my wheel to catch back up? I wasn't going to slack off, but I also didn't need to kill myself trying to catch back on. I smiled as Kristi danced away. 

It wasn't long before Kari came around me to go chase Kristi down and I tried to stay on her wheel, but just couldn't match the acceleration in her powerful legs. I did maintain 3rd place though, as no one else could either. Kari eventually made it around Kristi too to take the win, but Kristi (showing some of her old form returning) held on for 2nd and I made it my mission to not allow 4th place gal to catch me. This gal can sprint and there was no way I was going to let her take me at the finish, so half way through the last lap was the time for me to kill myself and get my distance from her. It worked, and I pulled in 3rd for  the States. Good day for the girls!

Ok, so maybe the good race had something to do with me enjoying the course too ;-)