November 14, 2009

Cross Crusade #7 - PIR; and it was muddy!

PIR delivered just what the doctor ordered; rain, mud, puddles 10 inches deep, slippery run-ups, off-camber side hills, and a sloppy, sloppy day of racing.

Team Sunnyside was out in full force and in high spirits, but with heavy legs after fabulous day of racing in Salem the day before.  Paired with the folks from Bend Bike N’ Sport, we built a pretty good tent city and were able to stay out of the rain, for the most part.

My day started out on a stressful note, as I watched my tubular tire being pryed off my rim by someone who thought it was a tubeless, rendering it unridable.  For the next couple of hours I worked to borrow a rear wheel that could handle the mud; the Sunnyside Team came through and I took Wade’s clincher to the starting line.

The race was tough, slow, muddy, and fabulous.  Splendid, torturous bliss.

Rhonda and I battled it out for the majority of the race. Neither of us wanting the other to get away.  In the end, she won, but I felt good about staying with her. As we rolled through the finish line, covered in mud, I felt a huge sense of relief.  I didn’t have my best race ever, my legs had felt heavy during warm up and by lap 3; I was tired.  Racing doubles every weekend take a toll after awhile.  (Enter Damian and Don: Time for some rest!)

After catching my breath, I rolled over to where Rhonda was standing. 
We smiled at each other…
Nice Race I said.

You too.  I passed you and thought you were gone and then you passed me back… you are a really strong racer.

Coming from you, that means a lot.

We made a bit more small talk and she offered up a couple of hints on how I could improve in the mud and over the off-camber down hill sections.

I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.  Rhonda Mazza is not only a really nice person, she is a fantastic bike racer. 

This is what I love about cyclocross.
Rhonda giving me tips on how to improve, helping to make me a better racer and bike handler. 
The conversation I had with Wendy as I walked to the parking lot.

Covered in mud, we had all just experienced the same joy, pain, and oxygen deprivation and we stand their swapping highlights and tragedies. 

These are the big girls, the girls I have pinned to my corkboard along side Katie Compton and Georgia Gould.  They are my local heros.  Now I am racing along side them. 

The embrocation delivers a sensational burn as I stand under the hot shower.   Hard to believe cyclocross season will be complete in a month.  The USGPs in Portland and Cyclocross Nationals will finish off the season for me.

I will miss Barton Park, which will be good for my rest schedule, but bad for my ego.  I am sitting in 4th over all in the Women’s A race for the Cross Crusade Series.  Barton Park is double points. Bummer.

To my dear Sunnyside Team; race strong, smart and skilled around the gravel pits at Barton.  Leap effortlessly over the concrete masses they call barriers and don’t break on the sketchy downhill.  Get muddy, keep smiling, and make sure not to pack up the shower before V, Matt, D and Mike get to take advantage of it!

Check out Matt's report here
Here are some more photos of the team