What a weekend, I was a little unsure of what I was getting myself into at this point in the season, but Serena and I made the Sat morning drive up to Seattle for Starcrossed and the Rad Racing GP of Cyclocross. These are certainly some of the bigger races of the season and part of the NACT series. Despite my less than adequate fitness this time of year; I know the races are super fun, and that's why I go back year after year.
(photos: Joe Sales)
Riding around in circles in the dark and rain, listening to French being spoken between two seasoned world cup riders from Europe, and knowing I was about to line up behind them was a little surreal. Serena wrote a post about this the other day. There are any number of amazing althetes competing on any given thursday evening local race in Bend. Still, there I was, numbers pinned for the first time this season, lining up behind some of my heroes of the sport. Like she says, you can choose to be intimidated or you can choose to be inspired. I decided I would just race my ass off; that's what I was there for after all.
I nervously watched as Serena lined up with the elite women and went charging around the course. She raced her heart out, and rode smooth and strong. She came away with a stellar finish on the lead lap and with style.
After a rushed warm up routine I made my way to the starting area. I had a great start position, and lined up on the outside so I wouldn't be squeezed in the first corner. I looked around sheepishly and then just decided that I had every much as right to be there as anyone. I slammed on the pedals as the gun went off, screaming up the left side, slotting into position, and barely on the edge of control sliding through the first corner. The sounds of crashing, and brakes barely working in the downpour that was going in earnest faintly registered in my mind. I stood up and pushed towards the next turn, more crashes and swearing. I was in the right place and at the right time, finding my way around tangles, lines opening up at the last second right in front of me, weaving through traffic, sticking corners, all with a huge smile on my face. The crowds were deafening, familiar voices from the darkness, rain and mud obscured what little vision there was in the dim light, my legs burned, I grinned...cross season was here!
I kept hearing the whistle of lapped riders being pulled. I tried to register where the leaders were on the course, but I rode my own race, chased the riders I could, and stayed away from the ones behind me. I was loving every minute of it. In the end I was pulled with a few laps to go for the leaders and watched them go streaming by, but I couldn't have been happier with my race. I raced hard and couldn't have had more fun, that was the plan.
Sunday found us out at Lake Sammamish for the Rad Racing GP and more of the same. We set up the tent right along the finish stretch and went to work getting ready. Intermittent rain and sun set up the course to be a slippery technical mess. I watched from the trainer as Serena flew around the course, gaining on riders each lap and finishing off in an amazing 13th place. I lined up just as some of the heaviest showers of the day subsided and the sun broke out. I slipped my way around the first lap and dropped further back as I got caught in bobbles and crashes. I got lazy on passes and sat behind riders I knew I could pass, my legs were there, but my mind wasn't and I went through the motions, but wasn't in the race. I still had a damn good time, riding the beach, slipping around, and crashing my ass off. It was great, just not a great race for me.
(Photo: Suzanne Marie)
It's great to have teammates that think alike and the long drive back to Bend from Seattle late on a Sunday night flew by as we dissected our races, schemed how we could travel to more, and generally rocked out to Hall and Oates. A great weekend of racing and a great way to kick off the season. See ya at Alpenrose!
Monday, September 20, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
What's been up lately...not writing here. It seems like its always a challenge to get back to the blog in the fall. Summer usually sees me traveling and eeking every little bit of time I can away from the computer and the indoors. This is a cyclocross blog so it seems only appropriate that it starts back up again now along with the season which is most definitely about to kick back into gear. That being said, it was a busy summer to say the least. Here's the bulleted list format of whats gone down in the absence of my writing here.
- Most of the summer was spent in Ghana (I guess that is sorta reported here, although there is a lot more to tell)
-Getting back in August and chasing those base miles.
-Planning a wedding (mine)
-Going to a bunch of weddings
-All sorts of family visiting for our wedding
-Getting back to work
-Getting back to training
-Starting to race
Well, that about brings us back to the present and to cyclocross. As per usual, my September fitness is not what it could be had I spent a summer to training for cross. But, hey getting married and traveling are a hell of a lot more fun then training for cyclocross, and well, it's a long season, the legs will come around.
I am actually really enjoying the training right now, it's hard, but there are tangible improvements as each week passes into the next. I've made the transition from the base miles to trying to get a little more power and speed. The workouts are more focused, intense, and interesting. Of course the few races I have done are painful. The new thrilla course is tough, with long power sections and a big run up, it certainly doesn't suit where my training is thus far, but each week it's been a little better and it's definitely making me faster. I am on the program of racing into shape. With that in mind I decided to head up to Seattle for the weekend to get my legs torn off under the lights. I figured if I am going to get my ass handed to me I might as well have fun doing it, and there aren't a lot of races more fun than Starcrossed under the lights, with crowds, beers, and some amazing talent, plus a new course for the Rad Racing GP with a beach section that includes a Deschutes Brewery beer tent...sounds awesome. Plus as a bonus I get to yell at my amazing teammate Serena who is in much better shape and is going to do the leg tearing herself.
I am really excited about this season. Cyclocross Nationals will be back in Bend, the course is going to be longer. I have high hopes and I am committed to improving on last year. I am going to train smarter and harder. I am getting to do a little travel for racing thanks to some airline miles, and we're working on building some relationships with sponsors that will be mutually beneficial. It's gonna be a fun weekend in Seattle. Here we go!