Monday, October 17, 2011

OVCX #7: BloomingCross

I'm blaming the announcers at Gun Club. Some time in the afternoon, they were discussing "cross cough", and I thought, "Hmm, I haven't coughed after a race since AppleCross." I felt the tickle in my throat soon after, and it seemed that there was no turning back the tide.

I knew that three weekends in a row of double races, including some 4:30 a.m. wake up calls would drive my body to the edge of what it could handle, but I just wanted to make it through to BloomingCross. After that, I would have the minimum seven races down for the OVCX series, and then I would get a weekend off when my mom came to visit October 21-24. Unfortunately, a nasty cold set in before I could get to my "one more race".

I did what I could to try and get better by the weekend, and spent a lot of time fretting about how things would turn out. The winner of last week's race had catted up to a 3, so that really opened up the possibilities. When I scanned the entry list, I realized I'd beaten every girl entered at least twice, with the exception of one. The one left had only beaten me by one second at Gun Club, so I thought I might have a good chance at the overall win. The cold, however, would not go away.

So I showed up yesterday just hoping for the best, and trying to convince myself that I would feel good once I started racing, even though I felt like crap. I did get a good start, but halfway through the first lap, I heard the rattling that meant someone was trying to come around me. It turned out to be about five people, including a couple of girls that are usually way behind me. I think that kind blew whatever facade of toughness I had left. I know I should have fought harder, but the nerves and the cough and the pressure just got to me. I kind of just rode through the rest of the race for ninth place.

Despite feeling awful most of the afternoon, I still kitted back up for the Little 500 bike race at the end of the day. For my non-Bloomington readers, you've seen "Breaking Away", right? With so few feature films about cycling, I'm going to assume so. Anyway, the race that they ride is a real thing (and humongous deal) at IU. What you may not know is that each four-person team is given two standard official Little 500 bikes, which are very different from any other kind of race bike. They are sort of like really heavy track bikes, but with flat pedals and coaster brakes rather than being fixed geared. The single gear is a 46 x 18 and the tires are wider and more textured than road tires.

So for BloomingCross they had a special category at the end of the day where we had to ride stock Little 500 bikes. They even paid cash prizes three deep. I'd never ridden a Little 500 bike before, but racing CX on one seemed so ridiculous that I had to try it. It turned out to be easier than I thought it would be. The coaster brakes weren't so bad, because I normally hold my feet parallel going through turns anyway, so I just had to make sure they were set the way I wanted them and lean back on my rear foot a bit more than I normally would have. Conditions were dry, so the semi-slick tires weren't an issue, and while the gearing was something I would normally only use for paved starts, I was able to make it up all the hills without walking. I was going about 2 mph a few times, but I made it.

I ended up third out of five girls, which was okay considering that I was last when we hit the grass at the beginning. It took me a lap to figure out what I was doing and then I was able to pass a couple of girls. I also lost some time in the sand pit, because I took the time to grab every dollar that people had stuck in the sand. I heard that this was annoying the coach of some of the other girls in the race, because I wasn't leaving any for them, but after several weeks of watching hella focused elite men turn down dollar bill hand-ups when they were 35th place, I was determined to milk my one shot at the "money pit" for all it was worth. I ended the race with my sports bra stuffed with seven sweaty, crumpled dollar bills, and then I got a check for $20 more for my third place finish. Mostly it just gave me a chance to have fun and blow out some of the crud I'd been feeling.

Now I have a couple of weeks to rest, finish getting well, and maybe even train a little. A little part of me is afraid that I peaked at Gun Club, and that I might lose my form in the last half of the season. Hopefully, that will not be the case. It's funny, because I still have 12 races scheduled, but only three that I consider "important". I really only care about doing well in the last three OVCX and getting some better places so that I can drop the seventh, eighth, and ninth places that are currently dragging down my score. For now, I guess I just need to enjoy my break, and do my best when Adam and I return to our old home town of Muncie in a couple of weeks.

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