Monday, December 14, 2009

Leah in Bend,OR

Cyclocross Nationals are taking place in Bend, OR. As I type this I am sitting in front of my fireplace and staring out of my window at the sunrise over the valley full of pine trees and snow. This place is so beautiful. It is hard to get overly stressed about racing in such a peaceful environment. I went out to test ride the course Thursday. They've had snow and very colds temps here lately so the course was super hard and icy. The layout was very twisty though, so the key phrase of the day was "keep the rubber side down". This required some tip toeing through the turns and off camber bits. There was one little off camber turn/hill that became nick-named "crash corner". Somehow it didn't seem to slow down Ryan Trebon as he wove his way skillfully past me and through the crowded course. Overall the course was fun and technical and would get better with age.

Friday was race day. 1:00pm. I got to the course to pre-ride at noon. Thankfully the course was open 12 -1 so I got to pre-ride and warmup at the same time. Most of the deeper snow was packed down but the turns were still icy. For the start, I had the grand pleasure of getting 2nd call-up. Right next to Wendy Williams (last year's champion). All because I finished 7th last year and no one else of the top 8 came out. The competition today I knew would be fierce. The field was 23 last year. 48 this year. And here I am, Cat 3, on the front line, with 46 hungry women behind me, most of which were Cat 1's, 2's and Pro MTB'ers. Who, me nervous? I had a decent start, maybe 6th into the turn. I felt really confident on the course so despite all the big guns around me, I pushed it hard. I would get a steady trickle of riders passing me on the straights and sometimes I would pass back in the turns. That was fun! Then, after the barriers on lap 2, I don't know where I was looking, probably at my damn pedals as I remounted, and didn't notice the woman completely stopped in the middle of the course. I slammed hard right into her. We, and bikes, both went ass over teakettle. I apologized as I grabbed my bike and ran. Thankfully everything seemed OK on the bike and I was feeling no pain so I pushed on. The next time I needed my front brakes however, I panicked to realize they weren't really doing much. The lever pulled almost all the way to the bar. As you know, with cantilever brakes, that equates to no braking force. There was one steep little downhill into an icy turn where i needed them badly. I went down hard and slid under the course tape. OK. That one hurt. I don't like using my rear brakes much (or at all) but I had no choice. I deftly made my way around the course and thankfully the sun started to melt the ice so I could carry more speed in the turns. There was no body in my race nearby for the last half lap so I pretty much cruised in for 20th. Not as good of a finish as I would have liked but solid considering my competition and my short preparation (I decided 6 weeks ago I better stop partying and eating too much and train for this thing.) I am staying out here until Monday so I can watch the pros race Sunday (and do a little skiing and shopping!)


1 comment: