Monday, September 20, 2010

If you can’t podium, join em!

I was pretty excited when I went to bed Saturday night. The second cyclocross race of the season was only hours away (literally a 2 hour drive) and my legs were strong from a brief tour ride in the countryside earlier in the day. All the items on a checklist were accounted for including: new tires glued, bag packed, hydration mixed, skin suit cleaned, socks, helmet, sports bra, sweat band and shoes packed. My post ride snacks were securely placed in the official post ride snack bag ready to be consumed after a 30-minute race. I was ready.

When we arrived to the venue…the track looked perfect…an old golf course gone cycling with constant rolling hills, off camber sections, one run-up and obstacles. Anyone coming OFF the course was covered with silty dust. The course was so dry, that the dirt had turned into a fine powder creating rather slick turns. This called for less air pressure so the tires could grip the ground and corner properly. I warmed up my normal 30+ minutes and was ready on the line for my call up.

WHIIIISTLE! We were off behind the men and the juniors. I was surrounded by a huge group of Michelob Ultra girls all pedaling with their matching kits. I am not sure how I feel about a light beer as a sponsor but in terms of name recognition, etc…it was a presence at the race (they WERE one of the sponsors afterall). I took off with a lead group into a tight left turn dismounting for the barriers…1….2…back on. Then….I felt something….but ignored it for a while…unitl I reached the run-up where I could officially tell that my front tire was deflated. I immediately thought I was imagining this…so I rode into a tighter corner to confirm…my tire was airless. Um…um…what to do? Well…NOTHING. You cannot race really nice wheels without fully aired tires…so there in my first lap…I too deflated with my tire. Why had I not used the pit? That’s a good question with a longer two-part answer.

1. I did not know the rules of the pits. Sure, I saw people taking extra bikes and wheels over to the pit area but I really did not know why or how the pit should be utlized. I should have asked and confirmed.

2. My position. I was in a VERY bad place on the course where I would have to run a good section before I even reached the pit. The time I would lose would have been a loves labor lost.

So left with few options…I had to pull out under the tape on the back side of lap number 1. I DID NOT EVEN FINISH my first lap. I will not tell you about the raging amounts of disappointment I felt because there are not words to describe it. I did not even have a good story for my team…no wrecked bike…no mangled limbs…just a lazy, limp, flat tubular tire that would mock me as I rolled it through the grass with little gasps of air escaping. I had NOT even broken a sweat…made it through the course…seen the other fun parts…NOPE.

So what did I learn? As with most races…I am responsible for myself. I should have inquired about the pits…I should have checked my tires again before the races. I should have been prepared for a mechanical failure. My only solace to end the day was my latest find, which is Blue Moon beer in a can. The can works GREAT for racing and hand-ups (if needed). I figure if I did not win at my race…I won at selecting a beer. The smallest victories produce the greatest results.

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