I didn’t write a report for Gloucester. Which is weird, because, you know, it’s Gloucester. But too much time has elapsed and I don’t think I can do it justice. Suffice to say I had pretty mediocre to poor races, but I really think I had the most amazing cheering section of anyone out there. It’s almost like I’m a . . . local.
Can we have a Monday holiday after every double race weekend? Because sitting around, drinking tea, interneting, and actually getting my muddy skinsuit washed in a timely fashion is pretty rad. Cody’s working (poor guy), and the remainder of the household has traveled north to see the brand new baby-in-law (niece or granddaughter, depending on where you stand). They invited me to go with them and I’m all, “Baby? Uh, does it race CX yet?” But I digress.
Last year I had two pretty abysmal days at Providence (abysmal even relative to my generally abysmal season). It was hot, the course was sort of boring and had a lot of pavement, etc. And I was slow and off the back and there was nowhere to hide. Anyway, I was hoping, of course, to have more fun there this year.
I had no goals or serious aspirations regarding either Gloucester or Providence, I wasn’t targeting them for good results. The fields are nationals-caliber, I’d be starting in the back, and it’s still early. I’m putting more focus in the Verge series, where the fields are smaller, are almost strictly New England (which is fast, but weeds out some Olympians, Euros, and other pros), and where I can get some top 10 results to move me up a few rows by the time we hit Nationals, with any luck. Nonetheless, it’s good to feel fast and competitive, and after being off the back at Gloucester I wanted to be racing where I belonged at Providence.
It was hot and dry. Damnit. Despite years of living in Reno (which isn’t nearly as hot as most New Englanders suppose it to be) and racing in NorCal (which is much hotter than that same group suspect) I seem to do really terribly in the heat. On Saturday I had a slow start, a pretty blazing first lap and a half, then sort of wilted in the heat. I lost 2-3 spots as I tried to survive the last 2 laps, wishing with all my heart that I’d mounted a bottle cage to my CX bike. Whatever. I ended up 29th, so top 30! Not bad, but nothing to get excited about.
Then came the horrible aftermath. I don’t think I ever wrote about what happened to me after the Willowdale MTB race in the spring, but I overheated and spent the next 12 hours on my back, unable to eat or drink, puking up anything I tried to put down. Pretty much the same thing happened on Saturday afternoon. We got to our hotel and checked in. Or, Cody checked in and I laid across the front seats of the car and tried to keep my recovery drink down. We finally got to the room and were supposed to meet up with the team for dinner, but I was in no condition to go anywhere so Cody got us some Italian takeout. I managed a slice of bread and 2 bites of pasta with marinara, and a few sips of water. Any motion out of the horizontal resulted in immediate regurgitation. I’m sure I was delightful company. After sleeping a couple hours I awoke at midnight with a raging headache but a subdued stomach, so I ate some more pasta. In bed. I’m a class act like that. I also drank two glasses of water, which proved to be a vain attempt at hydration because I awoke the next morning with no relief from the headache.
I told Cody, “I don’t know if I should race. I didn’t eat anything, so I wasn’t able to replenish my glycogen, and I’m dehydrated and I feel like crap.” He was all, “Shut up, we’re already down here, let’s get some food, and you’re going to race your bike.” I’m paraphrasing. Sort of. The joke was that if I managed a decent race I would pioneer a new method of race preparation that involves fasting the night before the big event, and not eating after one. Ha. Ha.
By the time we got to Panera for breakfast I was weak with hunger and about to murder a person for a pain au chocolat, but after stuffing myself with a breakfast sandwich and a pecan role, and OJ, and ibuprophen, I was feeling somewhat recovered.
We went to the venue early to cheer for our friends in the amateur women’s field (right, cause everyone in the elite’s is pro?). It wasn’t nearly as cool or wet out as I’d hoped, but I needn’t have feared as that would change later in the day.
I got Cody to go pre-ride a couple laps with me – his first lap of a CX course! Can we start a petition to get him to enter a race before the season is over? Everyone wants to see him out there, right? We’ll just have to make sure someone gives him a beer and/or bacon hand up. Anyway, he’s got mad bike handling skills and is great at selecting lines so it was fun riding and talking through the course with him. I felt alternately OK and awful, and really had no expectations for the race.
Just as we were sitting down on our trainers to warm up it started to sprinkle. ‘Whoa. This is going to change the course. It is going to get slimy.’ Looking at the numbers on my power meter was making me sad, so I didn’t do much warm up and instead went out for a lap on the newly slicked up course. It lived up to the expectation, but it was also super duper fun!
Fast forward . . . start of the race. I’ll admit, I didn’t really “try” at the start of the race. I settled into the back with no serious effort, which was sort of my strategy (start slow, and see if I can pick people off). Given my lack of expectation it seemed like a good one. The course started with a couple slimy turns, then there was an off camber straight away that was very slippery. I was just planning on running it since I knew the first lap would be carnage. I got off right before it and sure enough, there were 3 separate pile ups that I was able to trot around before jumping back on. As I rode by the pit the first time I heard Cody say, “Yeah, great start, now start picking people off.” Great start? More like smart racing. Good to finally put that stuff between my ears to use (apparently I haven’t huffed enough Vittoria Mastik glue this season…).
Anyway, I actually was moving pretty good, and passed a couple more people before I bobbled a remount and hit the deck, with my leg wedged between my tire and my frame. Seriously. My right lower leg got stuck between my downtube and my front tire. How the hell did that happen? I can’t even recall how I bobbled the remount, I was just on the ground, stuck, laughing at myself, while 6-7 girls passed me. Damn. I had to laugh though, it was so ridiculous, and it took me a literal 30 seconds to disentangle myself. Of all the stupid things.
I passed a couple girls, and was riding pretty well. Or, more accurately, running smartly. There were some slippery sections where, if you rode them cleanly you were quick, but there was probably a 90% chance of sliding out on them, which made you slower than if you were running. I just ran them. It had worked at the start for me, so I figured it was a smart strategy. And I didn’t lose any places from it.
It’s sort of trite, but I wanted to mention that I tried to pass a girl, first lap, as we were passing the pit, and she tried to ride me into the course tape. It was lame. I passed her on the next straight away, then she passed me again on the pavement. Then she crashed most spectacularly into the course tape, and I felt like, hey, maybe there’s such a thing as karma. Cody says I should race like that, pushing people in to the tape and stuff, but when you’re fighting for 25th place on the first lap? Really? I think that’s a little inappropriate.
Anyway, myself and probably 14 other girls ended up getting pulled one lap down. Which I didn’t mind too much, because I was happy with my race and I got to watch the finish where my teammates rode to 4th and 7th. I do feel the need to mention, however, that they did not placed the pulled riders correctly in the results. They took down everyone’s numbers, but when the put them in the results they reversed them, so the first person to get pulled, who was in 26th, was listed as the last person to get pulled, in 42nd. I was the second person pulled and I finished 27th, even though the results put me in 41st. I sort of figure that if you get pulled you shouldn’t be complaining about the results, but I’m quite proud of that 27th place and I’m sort of embarrassed to be listed as coming in 3rd from last after I had a good race. So for everyone reading this, I got 27th! Now I’ll drop it.
It was great to have a fun race after being so sure I was going to suck and quit. I did fade in the last 2 laps, but given my poor nutrition the day before it’s pretty amazing to me that I had anything in the tank at all. It was rad that Cody came down to the race and made me go race on Sunday, because it would have sucked if I’d just gone home. Now I get a weekend off! But you know what? I don’t even want a weekend off! I want to go race again! That’s the sign of a good weekend, or at least, a good race. Today’s supposed to be my rest day and all I want to do is go ride my bike! But I have weird sore muscles and inexplicable bruises and an oddly sore left knee, so maybe rest is best. Yay bike racing! I really love this sport. And you know what? After Saturday’s race, when I was laying around feeling like death, I was thinking that maybe it’s just not for me. Maybe I’ll never be successful. Terrible thoughts. But after yesterday, and a good race, and so much slippery fun? I’m thinking I don’t care how long it takes, or how hard I have to work, I need to get to the front. I want to be part of the action up there.