November 13, 2009

OBRA CX State Championships and Willamette Valley Series #3

It’s Tuesday night, darkness creeps through the open windows, I can hear the sound of rain between breaths.  One day of rest and I am back on the trainer.  With a month to go before Cyclocross Nationals, I have to stay focused and determined.  Train, rest, recover….With a week of recovery ahead of me and a great weekend of cross behind me, I take a deep breath before I start my 3rd set.

So, lets back up….. A great weekend of cross behind me…..great for so many reasons.
#1.  The Mud
#2. The Rain
#3. The Hail
#4. The Wind
#5. Super sloppy run ups, off camber side hills, and bottom-bracket deep puddles
#6. My family braving the weather to see me and the Sunnyside Team race our bikes
#8. A conversation I had with Rhonda after Sunday’s race
#9. Spending time with my nephew, Max… who is just learning to ride his bike

By all standards, the weekend was prefect for cross.  39 degrees, pouring rain, sideways wind, deep mud puddles, hot showers, awesome teammates, and my introduction to Mad Alchemy Embrocation!!


Saturday was host to the OBRA state championships and the final race in the Willamette Valley Cyclocross Series.  The rain poured down and the wind blew hard, making the team tent impossible to keep upright; the team warm-up session took place in the fairground barns instead. 

The course was flat, exposed and altogether tough, thanks to the head wind that made it nearly impossible to get off the front and stay there, the hail that pelted down for the majority of the race and my frozen fingers that made braking pretty much out of the question.

After a slick, asphalt start and a sweeping left turn, I took the lead, but quickly hit the deck on a tight right-handed corner on slick, muddy grass. 

It was bad move, I was excited to be out front, knowing I could win this race, and went into the corner much to fast.  My foot was stuck in the pedal and as I struggled to get off the ground, Veronica came by…
Get up, lets go she shouted. 
V’s voice snapped me back to reality. 
Get up Bishop, What are you doing in the mud?

I had to shake the shock and disappointment from my mind and get back on my bike.  I chased for the rest of that lap, making my way up to the front of the group and on to Sunny Gilbert’s wheel, who sat in second.  Alalia Berry was in the lead.

Over the barriers and around the “S” curves, I got in front, taking the lead right as we hit the windy straight away.  I pulled hard, Alalia right on my wheel.  We dropped the rest of the group and got a gap, but I had just done a ton of work.  

You are smarter than that Bishop… don’t get stuck in that position again.

Around the course once again, Alalia and held our lead, but neither of use were putting out 100% into the wind, and Sunny was closing in.  I followed closely as we ran through the sand pit, through the barns and over the moto-cross track, across the start/finish line. 

As we got back on the pavement on our on our 3rd lap, Alalia shouted, Let’s work together, Sunny is closing in. 
Okay, I shouted back.  Work together, okay, but I am NOT doing all the work was the thought going through my mind.

I took my turn out front, into the wind and then backed off, thinking Alalia would come around me and do some work.  She didn’t.  I slowed down, I had to be smarter than to pull her around for the next 1 ½ laps and then get out-sprinted at the finish.  Sunny caught up with 1 lap to go and I sat tight, 3rd wheel, thought the barriers, the “S” curves, the windy straight away.  

I knew I had to get into the barns first.  If I could do that, I could win.  Headed toward the gravel section right before the sand pit, I made my move. 

Accelerating out of the corner and onto the gravel, I stoop up and punched it.  Over the sand I lifted my knees and sprinted.  Into the barns, I didn’t look back.  
I heard Damian yell, This is what you are training for, the State Championship. 

I stood up out of the last turn and flew toward the moto-cross track.  My fingers were nearly frozen and braking was next to impossible.  I rounded the last corner, leaning way over, knowing I was going in too fast and just holding on.  My right hand couldn’t pull the brake lever.  The finish was 30 meters ahead.  I had a 15 second lead.  I put my head down, in the drops and crossed the line smiling. 

I had raced hard, smart, and with determination.  I had won.  No, the big girls weren’t there (Wendy, Alice, Megan, Emily, and Rhonda) but I had won none the less.

Later in the evening as I looked at my medal and put it around my little nephew’s neck, I couldn’t help but laugh.  I had an identical medal at home that I had won last year, but with one exception.  Last year I was racing Bs, this year, I was racing As.

At the end of the day, Team Sunnyside come home with 3 State Championships, a ton of top tens and a team unity that can only come from sharing Peppermint Essential Oil and Embrocation.

Read the VeloNews Summary Here
Check out Matt’s race report and what he has to say about Cyclocross Nationals Here

Photos of my most excellent Sunnyside Team

Sunday's Cross Crusade Race at PIR coming soon......