So what do you get when you cross caffeine with someone who has been free of it for 9 months? 2nd place (well that along with some notable names missing from the start line!) I guess that the only reason caffeine isn't regulated by the USDA is that most racers are so habituated to it that they don't get much of a boost from it. Now give it to a naive user (me) and bingo, it's unofficially a performance enhancing drug! I won't be sleeping much tonight, but hey, I guess at least it gives me time to write this blog.
Intense effort in 80degree heat usually leaves me with a headache. Caffeine (in the form of an energy gel) was my antidote to this. Not really giving me extra power or speed, just the capacity to keep pushing through without my head exploding.
Staying cool was also necessary to prevent the dreaded headache. I employed a couple of tactics for this - a wet wash cloth on my neck for cooling and (big gulp) a water bottle on my bike. This is almost taboo in CX, but a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do right?
I had a chance to work with my team mate Kristy for a few laps during this race. She powered away for the hole shot and pulled me for the best part of 2 laps - thank you Kristy!! I tried to re-pay the favor, but alas the hill climb took its toll on Kristy and our team work came to an end as she dropped back into 3rd.
I couldn't shake the gal who made it into 2nd place though. I knew she was climbing better than me, but hoped to keep her off. Alas, no such luck. She came powered around me on the final lap's climb and I never managed to bridge back up to her. Nicely played! Still, I was happy with 2nd. But even happier that I managed to put in place some coping mechanisms for racing in hotter weather.
Wow, it's that time of year again! We kicked off the 2012 CX season with MFG at Big Finn Hill in Juanita. I've got to confess I wasn't physically or mentally prepared for today. Taking the summer 'off' to play in the mountains on my mountain bike was good for the soul, but meant that I hadn't raced in over 3 months. That long out of the race saddle and I had begun to question whether I had it in me for another season of CX. Added to that, I wasn't particularly excited by the course, which was even less technical and faster than last year.
Low motivation and self doubt is not a good way to start a race, but the only way to find out where I was at was to get out there and do it! A good start put me in 3rd, just where I wanted, but it didn't last long as a side nudge through a corner had me on the ground and my team mate Kristy (who was perfectly placed behind me on my wheel) on top of me. Deep breath and chain back on, I then spent the rest of the race chasing to catch back up.
Took a while for me to work my way back up to 6th place, and then I chased up to 5th and made my way around, only to have her get a second wind and pass me again. Then I realized that as hard and painful as the race was, I really was back in 'competition' mode and I had a rabbit to chase! There was just no way I could give up and let her go. I had to play it smart though. Catching back up was one thing, but we were obviously pretty evenly matched, so I couldn't just blow past her. I rested a while on her wheel and it gave me just enough to pass when I felt good and I gave it everything to stay ahead in the last 1/4 of the final lap. She was close enough for it to come down to a sprint finish, but she wasn't on my wheel, so didn't have a drafting advantage. It was simply a matter of keeping it going to the end. It worked. I held 5th. Phew.
Much more importantly though, I found my motivation to race hasn't deserted me and my form doesn't suck too terribly for early in the season! I'll always have some self doubt, but that's a constant work in progress......