Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween Cross Weekend 2008

You know a weekend was good when you're still laughing about it, and hurting from it, on Wednesday.

This past weekend was the annual throw-down of ridiculousness know as the Cross Crusade Halloween weekend. Crossers from all over the Pacific Northwest converged upon the Clatsop County Fairgrounds in Astoria, Oregon. There was plenty of sunshine, blood, sweat and many laughter-induced tears.

A new addition to Halloween weekend was Saturday racing. D, Beth and I were out of Portland before dawn, after dropping a car off at the airport so EMILY MOON could join us for the big weekend. The drive was uneventful, and D managed to make it through Longview without getting pulled over. Apparently he has been using his down time to learn about how a "35 miles p/hour" sign means the same thing in Washington as it does in Oregon and Missouri.

D had a helluva a race on Saturday, winning the Clydesdale/B.B.M. category by a good 45-50 seconds. Every time he finishes race, I breathe a big sigh of relief...after Wilsonville I thought he was done with cross for good.

Before my race reports, a brief comment about the Women's B field. Is it just me, or is our field 5 times more competitive than it was last year? I am in five times better shape than I was last year and am still finishing back in the 14th-20th zone. Granted, I haven't ridden a clean race since Starcrossed, but I still think the overall quality of racing has skyrocketed. Which definitely doesn't suck...I have no desire to upgrade and the ladies that I'm racing with right now are awesome on so many different levels.

Saturday: I'm lining up in second row now based on points, and I do have to say that not being at the front really helps with my stress level. I really didn't belong up there and it was giving me performance anxiety. The race started on pavement and headed into a long downhill, ideal for my skill set. I got a great start and was in a pack of about 10 women that separated from the main pack. I knew if I could manage to hang on through the two climbs in the first 1/3 of the course, I would be in pretty good shape for the rest of the race. I lost a little ground on the climbs but was closing the gap on a bumpy downhill--when I lost my chain. For about the 12,072th time. Was back on my bike quickly, but the leaders were still in attack mode and long gone for the rest of the race.

I lost my chain again in the 3rd lap and slid out on one of the hairpins between the livestock barns, but managed to have a really strong race and am really pleased with the effort I put into it. I felt better and better each lap and was disappointed when, once again, I was in the first group of riders to get pulled at the finish. (For those of you unfamiliar with cyclocross, the finish time is based on the position of the leaders on the course. If they have lapped you or are within about 120 second behind you on their last lap, the officials will usually call the race for everyone coming in.) I really wanted that last lap to catch a few more ladies that had been fading in front of me. But it was good for 15th place.

Saturday night was the costume party at Pier 39. I went as Donatella Versace. Easy costume, really. I found an obnoxious dress at a vintage store, and accessorized with long blond wig, cigarette holder, a fake European accent and the sequined pimp chalice Malia found at Ross. And lots and lots of bronzer. Had a few beers and was in bed by 9.

Sunday: Sunday was the official costume race. Team Group Health came out as cowgirls. I felt more like a rodeo queen in my American flag sequined vest:

(From Left to Right: Ms. Klamath Falls Bike Rodeo 2008, Tessa, Jan and Jen). The back of our shirts read "Save a Cowboy, Ride a Cross Bike."

D bought a gorilla suit and wore it for the entire race, despite the fact that it was already 63 degrees when his race started at 10am:

I have downloaded a few more picture that can be found here.

I couldn't get clipped in at the start of the race, so my position was not what it was the day before. And I lost a ton of ground when I picked the wrong gear the first time up a steep paved driveway. I was a lot more agressive, though, through technical sections and up the climbs and I thought that I was solidly top 15 throughout most of the race, even though I took a spill or two in the hairpins between the barns. Midway through the fourth lap, I could finally see Megan ahead of me and knew that Heidi and Sierra were really close behind. At a pavement section that dumps into chunky gravel, I went to pass a beginner rider on the right, thinking that I could catch Megan with a good push and that Heidi and Sierra would have a hard time getting around the beginner in the upcoming off camber sections.

And just like that, my back wheel skidded out and I was on my left side sliding through the gravel. I came to a stop about five feet from where I started and just laid there, stunned. My head was swimming and I couldn't get clipped out on my left side. Some guys immediately jumped on the course and hauled me (still attached to my bike) out of the way of the oncoming riders. I sat on the side for a minute or so to assess the damage. Once I realized that nothing on my body or bike was broken, I gingerly hopped back on to finish the race. I rode like hell, deliberately not looking at my left arm and hip, even though I could feel the blood streaming down my forearm and into my gloves. I made up 3 or 4 places in the last 1/2 lap, good enough for a 19th place finish. (oops-i guess 20th...the results are different every day.)

Now I'm suffering through the aftermath of the crash. There is nothing much that is fun about road rash. No stitches were required, but I'm missing a lot of skin on my left elbow and hip and my hip is eight colors of the bruise rainbow.

Special thanks goes out to the Portland Velo and Tireless Velo gents who hauled me off of the course when I was too stunned to clip out or otherwise do anything useful after the crash, who cheered mightily when I got up and kept racing and who gave me several pints of post-race beer to dull the pain. PV and TV have been great tent neighbors all season...thanks y'all! Hee Ha!!!

1 comment:

Sierra C said...

ha HA! Your plan to block us, foiled! Seriously though, I am waiting for you to NOT have mechanicals and blow me out of the (muddy) water. Nice write up:)