October 28, 2009

Cross Crusade #4 - Cyclocross at Hillsboro Fair Complex

The forecast called for rain…. To a cross racer, rain means mud… if you know anything about cross, mud is a good thing.  The 4th race in the Cross Crusade Series was held at the Hillsboro Fairgrounds Complex, flat, fast, and muddy!

This week I had a front row call up; the rain was falling softly was we stood at the line and I kept my rain jacket on until the last possible moment.

The whistle blew and it was go time. 

The flat, fast gravel straight away was quickly filled with knobby tires, turning over in an all out sprint for the whole shot.  This week, it wasn’t mine to take.  Emily and Alice were off like they had been shot out of a cannon and it was all I, and the rest of the chase-group, could do to try to keep up. 

I hit the single track in 5th or 6th place, holding tight to Megan’s wheel; Rhonda, Bridgette, Tina and myself all fighting for position.  The first time through the slop pit (if you were at the race you know what I am talking about) Megan got bogged down, fell over and like dominos, a number of use followed.  I was fortunate to be on the outside and was quickly able to recover, remount and get out in front of the group.

I knew the riders right behind me; strong, consistent and determined.  If I was going to hold onto 3rd place, I was going to have to work for it. 

On the straight-aways I hammered; head down, mouth open, visualizing the last 30 seconds of a 4x4 interval. 

Over the barriers I tried to be smooth; remounting with efficiently and speed. (I was successful with the efficient part about 50% of the time.)

Through the barns and the tight cornering and muddy sections I tried to stay upright and carry my speed, accelerating out of each turn. 

With 2 laps to go, Bridgette was still right on my tail.  Coming through the barn section she passed me.  Not Good.  My job was now to stay with her, not let her get a gap and be patient. 

I stayed right with her though the finish line, over the barriers and through the super sketchy off camber slippery turn-hill-turn section. 

Back on the gravel straight away I jumped and got a small gap.  I rode hard through the sweeping corners of the backside of the course, fumbled a bit with my footing on my remount of the 2nd set of barriers and got passed again through the barns.

Through the finish line, the lap counter said 1 to go. 

Bridgette was faster than me on in the tight corners. 
I needed to drop her in the first 2/3 of the next lap or she would come out of the barns in front.
I was not going to let that happen.
I wanted 3rd place.
Be patient.

I stayed right with her though the finish line.

Over the barriers I was able to move in front. 

Through the super sketchy off camber slippery turn-hill-turn section I held my position.

Once on the gravel I gave it everything.

Hands in the drops, I stood up, accelerated and pedaled like the finish line was 100m in front of me.

It wasn’t and my lungs and legs were cursing at me.

In the race for 3rd, I wanted to win. 

Onto the single track, I didn’t slow down.  By this point in the race I had figured out the best lines through the bog, around the corners near the pit and over the asphalt lip that waited in silence in hopes of hearing pavement meet tire rim.

I knew I had a gap.  How big; I wasn’t sure.

Through the first set of the tight corners Ryan Weaver and a couple of other Cat A Men came passed me. 

You got it, no one’s even close Ryan said between labored breaths.

All the more reason to stay focused.

I stayed right on the wheel of guys as we twisted and turned through the barns. 

Around the last corner, into the mud, one final right hand turn to the finish.

My gap had held.  I came across in 3rd, covered in mud, gasping for air and smiling.

After a couple of quick circles to relax my legs, a preventative measure that could otherwise result in me simply tipping over, I chatted with a couple of the girls, found Ben and Mom and made my way back to the Sunnyside Team Tent. 

On the outside, it was just another great race, complete with mud, cowbell and friends. On the inside I was jumping up and down with excitement.  3rd place…. 2 weeks in a row. 

I will start calling myself a cyclist.

Read the VeloNews article and check out the New Sunnyside Kit.

Here are some more pictures of the Sunnyside Team!  Thanks Mark