Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sucker Brook CX

Thanks to CTodd for the tire
Thanks to Josh for the wheel
Thanks to Marvin for the skinsuit (daaaamn I felt fast)
Thanks to Craig for the ride
Thanks to Sucker brook volunteers for a very well run race!

I’m sitting here nursing a post race hack and wishing my legs weren’t so tired, but I guess this is what you get for racing cross. I raced my new Pinarello for the first time today, and decided that yes indeedy, steel bikes are heavy and you notice it… I think with some lighter wheels I won’t notice, either that or I better start doing one armed bike raises when I do strength. However, I had an absolute blast out there on the course, despite the fact that it was fast, flat, and offered little room for rest.

Yesterday I put a new tire on my rear wheel, and realized that while I had thought I had bought two tires (no wonder I got such a good deal!), I had in fact only gotten one. Oops. But, I figured I had one tire, I may as well go test it out. I went down to Cutler park, and after some bumbling around I finally found the trails. Once I let some air out of my front tire things really started to flow. I don’t think it was until I said to myself “ooh, I really want to do that part again” that I realized how much fun I was having. Its not like the trails were super technical or anything, but parts of them just flowed so nicely that I never noticed I was on a rigid bike with skinny tires. The weather was perfect, too, its just the beginning of Indian summer, and you could smell the leaves that were still damp from the rain that morning. This is my favorite time of year. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed being outside on my bike this much in a very long time; the only thing that would have made it better would be apples and donuts afterwards…

Of course, afterwards my knee was pretty sore, yes the one I busted at great glen. Probably running/orienteering in the rain that morning didn’t help. For perhaps a nanosecond, I considered not racing, but as usual my addiction to racing overruled common sense by a long shot, so I headed up to Sucker brook this morning with CTodd and Craig Labadie. I was there in time to watch the women’s B go off, as well as the men’s C and masters 35+, so I took a bunch of pictures of IBC folks and other CX friends.

A couple hours later, I lined up with the A women. They blew the whistle, and we took off up the pavement false flat. I felt like people were going too slow for a cross race, so I moved towards the front and found myself in fifth as we hit the grass. So much for riding a controlled race and not going out too hard… I went around some corners and discovered that although I felt great cornering alone, it was tough to do with lots of other girls around, and I lost some time. By the time we hit the barriers, I was maybe still in the top 10, but not on anyone’s wheel as we went into the woods. This long rolly mostly downhill not technical enough section sucked for me every time, probably because I can’t ride down hills when I have to pedal. My legs just don’t go. Maybe not riding a bike in four weeks affects that, who knows. So, I got behind a bunch of girls and tried to wheel suck.

Then we hit the sand. Apparently, I am a sand goddess, and I took an outside line and passed four girls. I have no idea how to ride sand, I just know that I did it really fast, and the important part was that it was a lot faster than everyone else. Of course, they passed me back since my legs don’t go in circles too well, but I tried to just let it slide and ride smoothly. I had done a hot lap in the warmup following Tal’s line through the corners, and that really helped. My bike started to feel mighty heavy going over the barriers, though.
Sarah ripping it up after the sand

I suffered along for four laps, deep in the pain cave, wondering why everything was hurting so much. When I saw the four to go sign, my first thought was that I hoped I got lapped. At some point I got passed by Anna Milkowski, who had flatted on the first corner of the first lap, and she must have been going three times my speed, although its not like I was moving fast; there was one lap where I pretty much walked the barriers. A HUP rider passed me soon after Anna, and although I tried to get on her wheel it wasn’t happening. I started trying to figure out if the distance between me and the HUP rider was bigger, or the distance between me and Cathy Rowell (NEBC rider just behind me) was bigger. I soon decided that Cathy was much closer to me than I was to HUP, and she was moving up fast.

With probably two to go, Cathy caught me, and I wheelsucked for all I was worth. I made it through the woods still on her wheel, then put some time on her in the sandpit. She caught up again on the far side of the course in the field, and I was actually glad she caught up, because it meant I could rest a bit. I was practically seeing stars, I was gasping so hard for breath. My lungs haven’t had this sort of abuse yet this summer. I made it over the barriers without A) dropping my bike or B) slamming into one of them, and I was wheelsucking so hard over the rollers that I completely didn’t see the sharp-ish lefthand corner in the woods. Cathy got a decent gap on me there, since I was in way too high a gear and trying to find my way out of the bushes. I tried really hard to catch up to her, because I knew I had to put time on her in the sandpits again since she would dust me on the road if I wasn’t ahead of her by a bit. Luckily, I was close enough that I put on maybe 10 feet going through that sand pit, and I held it to the line, though barely.

It was a tough race, mostly because there was absolutely no recovery. I think maybe if I had stayed a little closer to someone so as to draft a bit more, or started a bit slower, it would have been easier, but these are shoulda woulda couldas. I was happy with my result, 12th of ~20, mostly because it wasn’t dead last (my goal for this race being to finish not dead last). I’m definitely looking forward to the eco-cross next weekend though, if not for the hills then for the delicious food at the farm!!!

Cary laying it all out there

Josh before he took himself out of his second race of the day

Tal is freakn strong

Justin, one of the race organizers

Tal and Pierre chatting it up after getting the hole shot. Geez guys, didn't you get the memo that this here is a race?


josh said...

Your camera rocks. My arms look almost normal sized, and since when do I have calves?

CTodd said...

Nice job Alex!

Thanks for the photos.

Cathy said...

Nice job on Sunday! And hey - I never got my burnt oatmeal cookie ;-).

Didn't get any good pics of you, but here's the link to the blog anyway: