Monday, October 19, 2009

Today's Race Report Brought to You by Azytrhomicin, Tequila and a Sasquatch Pinata

[First, a brief note about my last race report. After spending 48 hours post-Rainier simultaneously hacking up lungs and feeling like a total lame ass excuse-machine, I was at the doctor for something else and had her take a listen to my lungs.

No wonder I couldn't breathe at Rainier: I had friggin' bronchitis. Although a combination of working from home, nuclear-grade antibiotics and cat-napping had me feeling much better by week's end, I was touch-and-go on racing until Sunday morning.

The ultimate deciding factor? Winning that team port-a-potty.]


When I saw that "2" on the lap counter, it was not without a sense of irony that I thought "This is total horseshit."

Cross Crusade race #3, Sherwood Equestrian Center. The only thing grosser than the gunk I was coughing up in ten minute intervals was the piles of horseshit all over the staging area.

(Overheard in the oatmeal line: Man #1 "Dude, I eat pieces of shit like him for breakfast. [Pause.] Man #2, looking down at his boots: "I'm not sure how funny that is right now.")

For those of you that don't already know, I grew up on a farm and am no stranger to horseshit. But I had assumed that moving to the city and taking up a genteel, white-collar sport like cycling would eliminate any future exposures to steaming piles of livestock feces. Cross racing continues to prove many of my life assumptions wrong.

(Tuning out and warming up. Credit: Jon Gornick)

This is a course that you either loved or hated. Lots of single track, rutted out downhill sections, two barriers before a long hop over a creek bed, and 300-meter, total a son-of-a-bitch of a climb at the end. I think that had my lungs been operating at greater than 75% capacity, I would have loved this course. But as things were, that climb kicked my ass to I-5 and back.

Even with the DNF at Rainier, the win at Alpenrose had secured my spot on the front line. I got to slide in next to Anna. She knows how to deal with me when I'm nervous. No questions and some well-timed hand squeezes. A few verbal jabs from the PV menfolk, then it was time to go.

I had another great start and won the first lap for the third time this season.

(Credit: Jon Gornick)(Credit: Bryan Carter)

(Credit: Tim Schallberger)

No appreciable gap on the lead pack, but I got the hole shot and only lost the lead briefly to a rider that passed me, then learned a valuable lesson about pre-shifting before remounting the bike on an uphill. I heard her derailleur protest, heave and pop. Its one of the more horrible noises that a cross racer can hear.

(Credit: Tim Schallberger)

I had three goals for this race: fast first lap, finish and to listen to my body. At the sign of the first coughing fit, I promised myself I would sit up and take it easy for the rest of the race. When Anna and Margi passed me on the second lap, I let them go. I had worked hard for the first lap and knew, unfortunately, that I didn't have the lungs or the legs to hold their pace.

(Credit: Tim Schallberger)

I'm not going to sugar coat this: bronchitis or no bronchitis, this course was fucking hard. Your lungs may have been able to recover on the downhills, but the ruts rattled your bones and destroyed the skin on your palms. The flats were false and by the time you reached the top of the climb, the riders had the look of men being led to the gallows: slack-jawed, eyes glazed over.

(Credit: Jon Gornick)

There was a lot of spittle and foam at the mouth.

(Credit: SoSoVelo)

I kept Margi in my sights until the second climb. By the third, I was in fifth place and starting to feel the itch in my lungs that signals a coughing attack was near. I rounded the top, positive that I would only have to do it one more time.


Two to go?! Fucking horseshit.

So I rode two more laps. Grinding it out between pockets of beginner riders. Gasping out how I was going to pass...those beginner ladies were champs, I couldn't have been emitting anything more powerful than a phlegmy, gurgling squawk.

(Credit: Tim Schallberger)

The fifth climb ended up being the easiest. I had caught a pack of about 15 slower riders with nowhere to pass. I picked the faster moving left lane, catching FT's wheel and letting her pull me to the top. I had fully intended to slap her on the ass at the finish, but she had the finishing gumption that I lacked and I rolled in right behind her.

Head down on the handlebars. The taste of blood and snot in my mouth. Eyes stinging from sweat. Holy fucking cyclocross, Batman.

(The FTs at the Finish. Credit:

Fourth place. It might not have been pretty, and it definitely wasn't fun, but it helped HV keep the lead in the Team Competition.

PS: To the spectators at the barriers. I do appreciate the sentiment, whether it be in jest or otherwise, but it takes more than heckling to convince me to throw an elbow or run someone over. My spectator entertainment services are available for hire for good red wine, Euros or the services necessary to fix my back derailleur on a weekly basis. See you in Hillsboro.

(Credit: Jon Gornick)

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