more than just another bike blog

Monday, October 23, 2006

wheel kissin'

I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather for more than a week now. I can’t tell if it’s a cold or allergies, but either way, it’s kept me off the bike and out of the gym. But Candlestick Point has traditionally been one of my better courses, so I really wanted to race.

I attended the Sycip clinic on Saturday, not because I thought I’d learn anything new, but really to pre-ride the course with some of the more experienced racers (and check out the cute guys). During my pre-ride, I felt pretty good, but still saw stars when I tried to open it up a bit. I got great sleep on Saturday and had a restful morning on Sunday, so I was ready to race!

The course at Candlestick is mostly flat with a few little power hills, several sets of barriers, a handful of tricky turns, some sandy sections, one longer run-up, and lots of pavement for me to power through.

My teammate, Dani, and I drove up to Candlestick Point pretty early Sunday morning so we’d have time to hang out, ride the course, and prepare to race. We met up with Erin, Yvonne, Jen, and Sarah and put up the team tent. During our first pre-ride lap, the course was nothing like the day before – it was completely sandy and pretty unrideable in sections that I had nailed the day before. Bummer, but that’s Candlestick for you and I’d expected the sand.

At the start, I didn’t get my usual spot on the front line. This week they decided to start the As, wait 30 seconds and start the Bs and 35+ women together, and then another 30 seconds to start the Cs. In my head, I heard a comment from John Funke the day before: “if you don’t belong in the front row, don’t start in the front row.” Now, I’ve always been a believer that I paid my $30 just like the next woman so I had just as much right to the front row as her, but I got a bit intimidated by the Bs and lined up in the second row. Many of the women in the Bs and the Masters really belong in the As – they’re pro mtn bikers, CAT1s and 2s on the road, national champions in many disciplines, and could easily compete with the As elsewhere in the United States. But the As in northern California are an unusual bunch -- Sarah Kerlin, Rachel Lloyd, Barb Howe, Shelly Olds, Stella Carey, Melodie Metzger, Josie Beggs to name just a few. These women are the cream of the crop in US cyclocross -- national champs, national team members, the elitest of the elite. There is just a small group of women courageous enough to toe up to the line with the As, so the rest keep racing with the Bs and Masters. This is one of the reasons I’ve kept racing with the Cs for the past 3 years -- I can't compete with women who should probably be racing with the As.

Once the As started, we rolled forward and the girl next to me snuck up into the 1st row. I was jealous and so I half-wheeled myself between two racers. Big mistake. The whistle blows, I’m not 5 pedal strokes in, and the girl next to me moves left and we kiss wheels – what a rookie mistake! Somehow I stayed upright, but I braked and was off-the-back before we hit the opening stretch, so I’m working hard to get back into the pack. Yup, that's me way back there chasing.....

I’m happiest with my first lap. Women kept going down in front of me -- on the gravelly stretch, at the barriers, on the little twin bumps, in the sand after the barriers – and I was able to change my line, stay upright, and pass folks. I definitely had my head in the race and that made me really happy. While others were affected by the women falling down in front of them, I was able to just ride away. I continued passing women for the first lap and a half until I settled into what was to be my finishing position.

During the second lap, I hear a little voice behind me “Lorri, it’s Jen.” It was my teammate Jen, who won the C race two weeks ago, so I made room for her to pass and then made myself big to block any women who might be chasing her. Shortly after that, Adina (one of the women who rides with us but isn’t on the team) passed me, and then Michiko on her mtn bike (a triathlete who kicks butt everytime she tries a road race, crit, mtn bike race, or cross race). Michiko and I leap-frog for a few laps – I pass her on the pavement and flatter sections, she passes me back on the more technical stuff. She finally gets away for good and finishes less than a 30 seconds ahead of me.

I had passed Katrina Loera (a Velo Bella who’s kicked my butt at mtn bike races) in the first lap, and I can see her behind me most of the race. I was excited (and a little surprised) to pass her in the first lap and half expected her to pass me back but she didn’t. Then, in the last lap she passes me and I chase. I had decided to race with a camelbak (1st time in 4 years) and on the run-up I get my saddle stuck on the straps. I can’t move!!! Katrina passes me, I finally free my bike from my pack, and I chase like a mad-woman. I’m able to catch her on the final stretch of pavement and draft her and another woman. We hit the gravelly section and then emerge on the final stretch to the finish. I sprint like nobody’s business, pull around her about half-way to the finish line and somehow hold her off to beat her by 1 second! I can’t remember the last time I had a sprint finish in a cross race, so this was super-exciting for me.

All in all it was a great race! I’m still not feeling 100%, but I was able to pull off a strong race. I definitely lost time in the fast sandy corners – I’m too conservative and slow down too much. But I was super-strong on the pavement and other flat sections and also did well with the little power hills. Although my result on paper isn’t very impressive (6th of 7 in the masters), my time placed me 6th of 17 in the Cs and 11th of 16 in the Bs – I’ll take it!

Congratulations to my teammates! Jen Jordan won the C race again with a nice margin over our friend, Adina. Yvonne flatted in the second lap but was able to finish the race. Dani, Sarah, and Erin all raced strong to finish mid-pack in the Cs. Oh, and Jen’s mom and sister came to the race with her girlfriend. After the race, Jen’s mom said that she needs a t-shirt that says “proud mother of a Velo Girl” – how cool is that!

Next week we’re off to Watsonville for round 2 of the Surf City series. It’s a Halloween costume race so one of my big projects for the week is to find a fabulous costume!


At 10/23/2006 5:03 PM, Blogger X Bunny said...

we'll all be so hot in our costumes....!


Post a Comment

<< Home