Monday, October 5, 2009

Fat, Fast and Dangerous: Alpenrose 2009

I started racing cyclocross exactly three years ago. First race: Alpenrose 2006. I had been to four clinics, crashed my bike three times trying to dismount and was scared out of my ever-lovin' mind. My unofficial count is that 115 women raced that afternoon.

Yesterday, over 220 women lined up to race

(Photo: Dave Roth. This photo doesn't even include the A Women, who now race with the A men.)

There are very few places on earth where 220 TOTAL people show up for a cross race. Portland rules.

Cross Crusade races make for long days. I like to get there early to pre-ride the course, but we don't race until almost two o'clock. How do we kill the time in between? We harass our junior racers, of course.

(Photo: BikePortland. The FTs discussing race strategy with James Ralston, who shall now be referred to as McDreamy and be forced to wear his jersey half-unzipped at all times.)

And when we are done with that, we ring a lot of cowb
ell, eat oatmeal and come up with new and offensive ways to motivate our teammates. Most of this involves references to being fat, slow, fat and slow or your mom.

Around 1:45, after two hours of nervous stomach and 45 minutes of sweating to the oldies, its go time. Correction, its go time after several minutes of smack talk about sandbagging, vomiting and the strategic advantages of getting laid before the race. The Women's B line is the place to get all of the good gossip.

(Photo Credit: Dave Roth. Freaking out between two ladies that always make me calm, Lana and Traci. Lana is the one that looks like a sexy Creamsicle).

Having raced this race four years running, I knew how important it would be to get a good start and get to the dirt out in front. So when the whistle blew, I rode it like I stole it.

I had a fantastic first lap, despite what will now be known as the "
Alpenrose Run-Up Incident of 2009" (if you'd like more information on this, I'd be happy to direct you to the resulting nonsense on the Cross Crusade forums) and dropping my chain after the first set of barriers. Got the hole shot and built a 10-15 second lead by the end of the first lap, and 20 seconds by the end of the second. The gap fluctuated throughout the race, but I was able to maintain it throughout.

(Photo: Sallyanne Ellis. Hitting the pavement with no one in sight.)

Laps one and two were fairly uneventful, although I did start to notice that I was having a lot of difficulty with my back end shifting (cue ominous music here).
Tedder's classes and weekly cross practice have done wonders for my technique. I still can't remount properly, but felt really smooth over the barriers and on the run-up.

(Photo: Oregon Velo. Taking the barriers with the grace of a gazelle and breathing of a winded rhinoceros.)

(Photo: Mike Kender. I was pushing the bike instead of shouldering to protect my back, which went out again earlier that week.)

One of the strategic issues we have to deal with at Cross Crusade races is lapping other riders. For the first two laps, I was able to hammer along at my own pace and the riders I passed were Master A riders with years of experience and solid bike handling. For the final two laps, it gets a bit trickier as we start working our way into the beginner's field. First priority is to get by without startling the other rider. Second, do it without losing too much speed. Third, put as many slower riders between you and the person chasing you.

(Photo: Dave Roth. This wide smooth road was a really good place to pass because it was safe and I could build up a lot of speed to pass quickly.)

Passing became a lesser worry on the third and fourth laps when I realized that there was something very wrong with my back derailleur. A quick check on the pavement indicated that I only had three gears that my bike would get into, and stay in, under load. The rest of the race was a lot of standing to get up inclines and screaming at my bike..."GET IN THERE!"

(Photo: Oregon Velo. Standing somewhere where I normally wouldn't. Using words to describe my bike that I normally wouldn't.)
(Photo: Tim Schalberger. I have no idea when this photo was taken. I just like it because I look skinny and strong.)

I could see and sense that my teammate Anna had cleared the pack and was bearing down on me in the third lap, so in the fourth I sprinted as many of the flats and climbs as my three-speed would allow and exercised a bit more caution in the technical sections. I knew that if she got within 10 meters of me, I was done for.

One more lap, she may have caught me. But lucky for me, four was the number for the day.

(Photo: Tim Schalberger.)

First Cross Crusade Win. And on my favorite course.

The day had many team highlights, including wins by Mindy (Master B) and Kolben (Junior 17-18), top ten finishes by Anna (B), Bryan (Clydesdale), Angela (Master B) and Marc (Master C) and Top 20 finished by Tedder (Unclassified Old Farts), Jamie B. (B) and Jamie F. (Clydesdale). As a result, HV is currently winning the Feudal States Competition, the Crusade's team competition for rights to a private blue room for the 2010 season. That is a serious prize, people.

The damage to the Tri-Cross was minimal...bent derailleur hanger that the all-star crew at River City replaced within 15 minutes on Monday morning.

With another win comes the bittersweet acknowledgment that I have a limited number of B races left before I get my upgrade notice. So time to kick this head cold and get ready to go out with guns blazing.


Mr. Smith said...

I am assuming that your use of the word fat refers to Jamie F. and myself in the clydesdale division. Thanks for not calling me fat DURING the race!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

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