Monday, September 27, 2010

Bumpy Roads Ahead...

Yes, Dansko podium shoes. So what?
No one can really prepare you for the abuse your body takes during a cyclocross race. By abuse, let me FULLY iterate from a woman’s perspective. In the women’s CAT3/4, a 30-45 minute race will be nothing but rough gyrating paths, painful twisting, and pure technical bike riding. Everything on your body hurts including your knuckles from resting on the hoods of your shifters. The best re-creation of this is to place your body in a washing machine and cycle yourself through a full wash, spin cycle and all. Only then could you adequately begin to understand what it is like to race in a cyclocross race. The much appreciated recovery periods are short straight-aways that generally lead into more painful things like barriers and run-ups. The ONLY reprieve is the end of a race where you can finally remove your body from the bike and collapse on a grassy knoll.

I’ve never been so happy to hear a bell in my entire life. The bell lap is the last lap, noted by a loud ringing (DUH!). At this point, I can no longer see straight, my mouth is an arid desert and I pray I remember to clip out before I smash into a log barrier. My remounts are slightly off camber, sloppy and haphazard. At times, my left foot never clips back in, or at least I stop listening for it due to extreme oxygen deprivation. The last lap is the lap where distance MUST be maintained. I refuse to look under my arm to see anyone behind me. If someone is behind me, I will likely hear his or her puffing and sighing over my shoulders. I do not need to see where they are. I just need to finish.

The best feeling of the entire race is the first 10-minutes post race. Ideally, there are friendly faces there, hugs are exchanged and someone has water (it may be a complete stranger BUT I will take it with NO questions asked!). After guzzling a few drinks, removing the hot sweat soaked helmet and unzipping the body suit…I feel STELLAR. I feel like I could ride another 4-5 laps….but this feeling quickly fades and then my stomach takes over grumbling with emptiness that reminds me I have burned and sweated off far more calories than I took in before the race. I usually succumb to the worst foods because I’m starving in the worst way. I justify mayonnaise because I feel after exerting every fiber in my body, I deserve a little gluttony and mayonnaise seems the perfect indulgence. It’s warm creamy goodness accentuates every bad fat you can think of.

While I joke about this season being a crash course…it truly is. Every race is another adventure with some lesson learned. This weekend’s lesson was a bit of a reward…”how to pose for podium” which I FAILED miserable partly because I was so thirsty desperately eyeballing a dude’s iced water bottle 20-yards away and partly because I really did not think about the picture until it had been taken. There’s always next weekend.

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