Monday, October 6, 2008

The Jinx is Wearing off, Slowly: Alpenrose Race Report

The Cross Crusade opener was Sunday. Weather was absolutely perfect: intermittent rain, low-60s.

D and I got up early to go stake out a good heckling location on the course. Tent went up, as did our new Squivvy changing tent, which was almost as much of a hit as the new custom built cross rigs that were rolling about. We left the car, went out for breakfast and rode back to Alpenrose around10.

And I immediately get a twitchy stomach. This is a phenomenon that I still don't quite understand. I've raced this course twice, rode it for 60 minutes on Saturday and yet I still wanted to yak. In all honesty, I think most of it was that I was anxious to figure out whether my result at Starcrossed was a fluke, or whether, just maybe, I was turning myself into a decent bike racer.

I was pleased to see that the course was getting torn up under the pressure of the rain and the 800+ men that were racing on it before us. I may be a disaster on a mountain bike at times, but those experiences have really helped my handling skills. And mud is a decent equalizer between the roadies and those of us who concentrate on cross...handling will often trump speed.

Heidi and I made the mistake of not lining up until 20 minutes before race time. There were over 50(!) B's lined up. We got stuck three rows back. Not only did both of us want to vomit all over each others bikes, now we were in an unfortunate starting position.

I went into elbows-out-bowling-ball mode as soon as the horn sounded. I made up ten places into the first pavement turn, ten into the second and had weaseled my way into the top fifteen by the time we hit the singletrack. I accelerated up all of the inclines, took the inside lines in the trees and by the time we saw the lap counter for the first time, I had worked my way into the top ten.

During the second and third laps I was feeling really strong, so I stood up coming out of all of the corners, hammered through all of the "recovery" sections, managed to clear all of the barriers at full speed (I may stutter step on my remount, but at least I can stutter step quickly) and managed to pick off several more riders. Beth passed me in the Velodrome on the third lap...and promptly ate shit right in front of me. I saw her front wheel go out and made a lucky guess as to which way she would spin.

Then I was fifth, then fourth, then third. I had a pretty good idea of where I was at, but it really helped that D was paying close attention and not only knew my position, but how far I was behind bad-ass Abby from Bridgetown Velo (who schooled all of us on a singlespeed!) and the gal that was in second.

I felt confident going into the bell lap that I would be able to hold my position until the finish. I was working hard, but never felt like I was close to redlining (although, if you look at my race photos, you would think I was about to puke the entire race).Then...classic beginner mistake. After running up the stairs, I got lazy and dropped my bike instead of setting it down gently. And my chain promptly popped off. It only took me about 45 seconds to get it back on, but by that time I had counted at least seven gals that had passed by while I was fiddle-fucking with that damn chain.

So I basically time trialed the final 2/3 of the lap. It had been a while since I'd gone to plaid and seen jesus in the same race (I think jesus was hanging out in the team beer tent), but I felt like I had to out-race all of my self-doubt and bad luck.

I picked off one B on an incline, another at the rock wall, another on the run-up. I could see two more ahead of me coming into the velodrome. I caught them at the barriers and knew that if I could get within a bike length coming onto the velodrome, I could outsprint both of them.

So that is what I did, complete with a nice throw at the end for good measure.

I thought I might have worked hard enough to get back into the top-five, but am really happy with the sixth place that I ended up with. It was enough to quell the self-doubt.

It was amazing to have friends at all points of the course. Jeff and D (who ran three of the run-ups with me-- in size 14 rubber boots) were able to tell me where I was at each time I passed by and, although I'm sure there were others out there screaming encouragement, a special shout out to Danny Klube and the Portland Velo all rock.

This is what a week of jinxed living and all-out effort looks like. Pretty sexy.

Thanks K-man, for not posting this to the general public.


Kristin said...

Awesome report. You need to teach me how to push my way through a crowd!

(0v0) said...

gone to plaid?

seen jesus?

Lindsay said...

Its even worse when you are working so hard that you see jesus wearing plaid. Haven't had that happen since HS track.