It's ONE thing to race a race. As a participant, all you have to do is show up...pony up your entry fee and pin your number in the appropriate place. When you are part of a team HOSTING the event, this means ALL of the grunt work, magic, and sweat comes from YOU, the teammate(s). In all of my event planning years (nearly 12+), I have NEVER planned, hosted, or participated in a cyclocross race...so it was ONLY natural that I am thrown into the deep end which included assisting the boys with mapping out, riding, and not falling on the proposed course of pumpkin stems, roots and run off pond sludge. If that were not enough, I also found myself hosting podiums, being the podium girl (sans sexy bikini...something I am sure ALL participants are thankful for), and calling races. Wait a minute...I haven't even RACED the course yet.
|Riding the course on Satuday...learning the ropes of hosting a race.|
On Sunday, with a few more hours sleep, breakfast in the stomach and coffee made juuuuust right...I felt way better approaching a course I had never ridden with my bike atop the car. In all my haste to pack up the appropriate snacks, clothing, gear, beer (2 kinds for discernable pallets), chairs, back-up clothes for rain...I neglected ONE major element...A HELMET. It is not a surprise that the officials will not let you TOUCH the race course without a helmet. My realization to this detail did not occur until I was one-third of the way through my coffee and 45-minutes from home. Kicking myself would only bruise me. Thankfully, a team mate who also shares a smaller cranium offered up his ULTRA light helmet which fit snugly on this chicks forgetful head. WHEW!
Now with only 1-hour to race...I was being barked at to warm up my legs. Literally, in my wandering thoughts, I almost neglected this too. Thankfully, I rode circles, paraded all around the course and then enjoyed a nice course pre-ride which assured me that this course was rough....and by rough, I mean I could sustain punctures or major organ bruising should I fall. I made the note in my head to NOT fall because I was also wearing my teammates helmet which I promised profusely NOT to destroy ruining his race for the day. The call to the line was quick and as expected, few women show up for cross racing....even fewer finish but I felt better when I learned how confused a girl was about the course...my last thought before the whistle was "stay away from this chick."
Once the whistle sounded, in a horizontal line (referred to as a Braveheart start which only caused me to yell FREEEEEDOM in my head during the start), we made a dash over roots and stems to corale at a tight right 180-degree turn. I did not get the hole shot but I also did not get a bad place either because behind me I could hear the ramblings of near pile ups and wrecks. My goal was to get a lap done...and I did including the barriers, including the steep down hill which if I HAD wrecked there, I would be wearing rotten apples, fermented apple juice, and bee's. Coming into the second lap, I decided to go up a gear in the straight away when I realized...I COULDN'T....the shifter was frozen into 2 smaller gears. It was not a reason to quit...ride until something falls off the bike or off my body. Neither had occurred, so I pressed on. I made the two gears work as best I could...sometimes spinning too much on the straight aways but holding tight turns with NO dabbing.
|First turn, tight 180-degree|
The last lap, I was with 3 women...I took a brief spill on an off-camber section near the muck pond. I was back up immediately and did not check the bike over because nothing was hanging off and there was not time...then a pile up behind me which I could only hear. I did not even look back...I continued to the finish straight away where the officials waved me through the finish line. I still had legs left. I still had lungs left. Then as I bent over to check my derailleur to discover I STILL HAD A BIKE left as I removed a LARGE pumpkin stem that had LODGED into my derailleur . That was an EASY fix.
I continued to walk around the property with my parents missing my podium call but collecting some apples for a 3rd place win. Since I was only doing the race to finish, I was happy with 3rd place...I was happy to finish and not completely embarrass myself. I was happy that I could ACTUALLY do it. This may sound strange BUT cyclocross racing hurts and it is not a cute, girly sport. Bruises and scrapes are the norm...or in our case on Sunday...sunburn. There was a lot of pressure to "prove" that I could ride the course, ride my bike, or even get over the barriers. I did all three and identified my areas for improvement. You have to start somewhere...and now was as good a time as any.