Monday, October 3, 2011

OVCX Dayton Weekend: Halfway There

She says we've got to hold on to what we've got
It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not
We got each other and that's a lot
For love we'll give it a shot!

Oh, we're half way there
Oh oh, trainin' on a prayer
Turn those cranks and we'll make it I swear
Oh oh, trainin' on a prayer

It's hard to believe that in the space of 22 days that I've raced six times and the 2011 OVCX series is already half over. The thought of doing another double CX weekend in a row was a little daunting, especially with both races being over three hours away. The complicating factor was that I was leading the series in the Cat 4 Open class and had worked my way up to number one on the call-up list. I just couldn't bear to skip a race and let myself slide back into obscurity.

Adam seemed less interested in beating himself up for call-up spots, so I made the journey to Dayton alone on Saturday morning. The temperatures were in the low fourties and it was windy and drizzling. I think I was still in weather denial since we were racing in hot dusty conditions this time last year, and it didn't really even occur to me to bring leg warmers. I didn't really want to wear them, anyway, because dressing for 'cross is much different that bundling up for winter riding. There is only so much bulk one can put on and when it's in the fourties, you've still got to keep an ace in the hole for when it's in the thirties or even the twenties.

Unfortunately, my attempt to prove my hard(wo)man status kind of failed, because I think I got chilled to the point that I couldn't race well. I got the hole shot, but was quickly passed by a couple of much faster riders and then even more when I went over the first set of barriers and discovered my numb feet weren't clipping back in too well. With three dismounts per lap, slow clip-ins were kind of a problem.

I ended up swapping around with a group of 4-6 girls throughout the race, including Collyn, who had won at AppleCross and had also beaten me at Brookside. We were back and forth, never more than a few bike lengths apart for most of the race. We were sent out for a fourth lap (the first race where I've not been lapped by a SS man and pulled after three) where I tried in vain to shake her from my wheel. With 200m to go she was still there, and while I did my best to sprint, she flew around me and easily made it to the line first. It turned out that we were sprinting for the last podium spot, so I was relegated to fourth and was eighth in the wave.

Sunday was a better day, being sunny and having a couple of key players missing from my category. The course had a couple of long slightly uphill slogs over ground that managed to be both rough and squishy at the same time. I didn't get the best start and I allowed myself to be passed by several people that I shouldn't have during the first quarter lap. After the first barriers, I got myself together and started making places back. By the time I made it through, I was feeling decent, but the leader was way off the front and there was a group of three girls, including my category leader, who still had a big gap on me. I tried hard to shut it down, but in the end they still had about 45 seconds and I ended up second in my category and fifth in my wave.

I was telling Adam that I think I may have already done more races by the beginning of October this season than I did over the entire season any previous year. That might not actually be true, since I was pretty gung-ho at the beginning of 2007 when I had what now seems to be the ridiculous goal of racing the elite category at the first-ever USGP Louisville and not finishing totally off the back. I actually did race the women's "A" category the first few races, but I was totally off the back even against the locals and had to reevaluate my goals. I soon found out that I had a pretty hard time just not getting last in B's.

It's kind of funny trying to imagine what the 2007 me would think of me now. I still have a big jump to make up to anything loosely resembling "elite", and I'm still haven't cracked a top three overall finish (my new goal for the last half of the season). However, I now get to take podium pictures on the reg, and if I just keep plugging away with decent-to-good races, maybe my luck will hold out and I squeak out a series title in December. The 2007 me was really jealous of all of the medium-fast chicks that got to stand on the Cat 3/4 podium. Now I'm one of them.

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