Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The cyclocross season rolls out! (a little wobbly)

Touch down from the mountain bike world cup finals in Slovenia on Monday, three days turn around time at home with Norm and Marty, and then I was off to Kona HQ in Ferndale to pick up my snazzy new cyclocross bikes. Mark Peterson flashed me the 16.3lb 2008 scandium Queen Ann with the custom orange “wool jersey” style paint job and I was getting giggly. Pan down past the FSA carbon bars, stem, seat post, cranks and K force wheels, Kore Kross brakes with Swiss stop pads, and Alpha Q CX20 fork and I may have peed my pants. I was excited to race cross again!

STAR CROSSED, Seattle Sept 22
Star crossed is always my first big cyclocross race of the season and unfortunately something usually goes wrong. I would like to think its just bad luck but mostly its because I don’t seem to have my shit together. New gear, more race prep, different bike handling, actual race tactics … it usually takes me a few races to pull it all together again. This year was no different. I had a great call up (first) but proceeded to destroy all credibility as a cyclocross racer when I slipped my pedal at the gun, continued to slip the entire sole of my modified shoes (tire glued to the carbon soles that morning for more grip) and slammed into the top tube with my crotch. The only thing positive about that start is that I did not hit the ground and somehow managed to ride the speed wobble out and recover. But it was not pretty. Ego bruised I kept going and spent the first lap catching up to the lead group. It was a good size lead group (~6-8) so I could sit in and recover before taking the lead. I was riding smoothly but couldn’t pull away from them, not enough technical sections for me and the level of women’s cross has definitely gone up the last few years. I pulled out some tactics from the recesses of my brain and jumped the group a few times to get a gap but the big group would always catch up on the long open windy stretches. I didn’t have that extended power just yet. So I pulled back into the group and decided to try for the sprint finish. I got too keen, went into the second last corner hot. Not only could I not get around Sarah Kerlin (Velo Bella-Kona), Wendy Williams (River City Bicycles) blew by both of us to take the win.

RAD RACING GP, Tacoma Sept 23
I vowed to race smarter after my Star crossed fiasco. I pre-rode the course with both an offensive and defensive strategy in mind. The girls were stronger this year so I had to be smarter. PLUS I had shoe goo’d some random bumps onto the carbon soles of my shoes so I had some traction if I slipped my pedal again. This course had a HUGE run-up so I knew the group would blow up quickly today – not all cyclists can run. Rachel Lloyd (Proman/Paradigm) and I had agreed to work together so I had an ally. I still had first call up and this time I didn’t blow it. I went into the grass 4th wheel and was sitting comfortably. Rachel went straight to the front so I found her wheel. First run-up I knew I was stronger running than anyone else. I haven’t done much training but the legs were there so I ran past Rachel and took the lead. We had a big gap and traded off the lead for the next lap. I was feeling great. Wendy Williams (River City Bicycles) was trying to bridge up but couldn’t and Rachel and I were both comfortable. All I had to do was hold it until the last lap then turn it on for the final run-up. Brilliant. That is, until my tubular tire rolled on the fast descent and I stuffed my face into the dirt. I was scraped but not hurt so I tried to get my front tire back on, it didn’t budge so I started running but it was a long way to the pits. A couple of guys yelled at me to force it back on so I tried it again with both feet on the wheel and it finally popped back on. I gingerly rode it into the pits. New bike, lots of adrenaline, and good legs so I charged back. I was making up time every lap but it wasn’t enough. Another third place finish.

VEGAS CROSS, Las Vegas Sept 26
Interbike. THE big bike industry trade show in North America and I had never been able to check it out. This year they added a cyclocross race on Wednesday night which promised to have thousands of spectators. How could you not when every bike company, shop owner, racer, frame builder, and fan, was in town for the show (and there was a beer garden to quench their thirst). I had never been to Vegas so it was pretty amazing to see the “excess”. Crazy. But I had to be good - I was racing. The venue was a soccer complex 6miles from the strip. I left the hotel 3 hours before the race because I knew traffic would be busy but we didn’t arrive at the venue until 6pm! How can it take 2 hours to get 6 miles when every road in Vegas has 6-8 lanes?? I rushed around and got ready with enough time for a few laps of the course. It was all grass with almost no features. Sounds easy but the grass was like shag carpet. Super deep and it had a mind of its own – no guarantee your bike would go where you told it too. But I felt pretty strong and I had my new Kona-Yourkey.com skinsuit on so I felt fast. I had a great start and followed Katie Compton (Spike Shooter) and Lyne Bessette (Cyclocrossworld.com) out but they quickly showed the rest of us they were in a different league this early in the season. A large chase group formed and I sat comfortably in the group for a couple laps. Then I seemed to have trouble staying with the group as I started to cramp in my calves. I never cramp! I tried to stretch at the back of the group and started to yo-yo. Not good. I saw 3 laps to go and popped off the back of the chase group as I realized the cramps were getting worse. I was in no-mans land for a few laps barely able to get over the mini barriers because my calves were constantly flexed. Rachel Lloyd (Proman/Paradigm) caught me on the last lap and I sucked it up to outsprint her for 10th. I was disappointed as I thought I could pull this one together….. BUT I couldn't be bummed out for very long. I was in Vegas with the Kona crew and I had lots to check out.

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