October 15, 2013

Cross Crusade #2 - Racing at Rainier

Photo: Tim Schallberger
The second installment of the 2013 Cross Crusade took place in Rainier – on a beautifully sunny day. Ironic, because it was the first real mud I have raced in all year. A few days of sunshine can not negate a week’s downpour and the grassy course, laid out by the nothing-less-than-awesome Cross Crusade crew, quickly turned to peanut butter-like mud that grew more power-sucking as the day went on.

Rainier is notorious for a climb, that by cyclocross standards, is quite long. Its starts as gravel, turns to asphalt, and just went you think you are at the top, it kicks again. With the challenging mud and some sketchy off-camber sections, there were wasn't much time for recovery. Any place that might offer a small reprieve just screamed ‘go harder’, and I did my best to listen.

Photo: Rob Kerr
My legs felt a bit heavy and it wasn't just a function of the mud. It was a function of the work they had done over the last week. This is the feeling of improvement, of building strength, of getting faster, but it is also a feeling of fatigue. Finding the balance is tricky and during cross season, it is particularly challenging.

The cyclocross season is a bit harebrained really. We race for 8-12 weeks, almost every week, on the other side of the mountains or on the other side of the country. Between the time we get home on Sunday night and I leave again on Friday or Saturday, we go to work, train, clean and repair equipment, plan for the next race, attempt to have something that resembles a social life, and try to rest. That is a lot to squeeze in; but we do it because we love it.

I do it because I love it.

Photo: Tim Schallberger
So, back to Rainier. Brava, with her Rolf Wheels, rode brilliantly to take the WIN. Relatively low air pressure, responsive brakes and some delicate cornering got me around the course upright and across the finish line (which sits conveniently at the top of the gravel section of the climb) ahead of my competitors… but it was a tough race and I had to dig deep. This is what makes you stronger and ready to race faster; showing up, pushing thru, getting the job done.

Next up: PIR – Heron Lakes