Monday, October 10, 2011

Sun's Out/ Gun's Out

No, this isn't another post about my arm muscles. After a damp and frigid weekend in Dayton, Indian Summer returned to the Ohio Valley, and made for a somewhat toasty weekend of racing.

Saturday was an Indiana Cyclocross Cup series race near Indianapolis. Although it's a bit burdensome to be racing a whole other series on top of OVCX, Adam's team director has been the driving force trying to get this series going the last couple of years, and now it seems that it's actually coming to fruition. While Indiana is making headway in the regional cyclocross world, we are still kind of the awkward third wheel to the Cincinnati and Louisville epicenters. It seems that many Indianapolis folks are interested in trying 'cross, but don't want to commit to the 2-3 hour drives every weekend (sometimes twice). As a Bloomingtonian, I fully accept that racing equals driving (often on two lane roads). We are pretty darn lucky just to have BloomingCross and the DINO race at Brown County. However, if the ICX Cup is the free taste that gets more Indiana folks hooked on the 'cross crack, I'm willing to do a little bit more driving to help it along.

Anyway, it was a beautiful sunny day, and I'd hoped it would be warm enough to wear my new rhinestoned pink gloves before it got cold again. It definitely was. Temperatures were over 80 degrees by the time we took our 1:00 pm start. That's not that hot for racing mountain bikes in the middle of summer, but when you're racing full bore in an open field with no tree cover and you've lost your acclimation from the summer, it's HOT.

We actually had a decent-sized field, with seven Cat 3/4 Open women and one 35+. Although eliminating the term "women's 3/4" from the public cyclocross consciousness is my cause célèbre (we need wristbands), the ICX series isn't quite "there" yet. As of Saturday, determining where Cat 3 women should go was not a problem, as there were none. Just eight 4's and two 2's. Gotta fill out that elite class.

Anyway, despite being small, our field was definitely not weak. I knew that I would have my hands full trying to stay with Valerie and Rebecca, but 14-year-old Chloe, who had kicked some butt during the last half of the DINO series was a last minute entry, as well. As it turned out, I didn't get much of a chance to see how long I could hang with them. The starting area was very narrow, and I got caught by a domino-effect of bar-banging and had to dab, reset, and get going again while the rest of the field rode away. It took me over half a lap to make it up to fourth place, and by the time I did, the top three were out of sight. I had to turn myself inside out just to hold my position, but I was able to keep it together to the end. Since the overall winner was a 35+, I still made the podium and finished where I expected to, but the gap was much bigger than I had hoped.

Sunday was my first time at the Gun Club. I was looking forward to this race, because it is the favorite course of about every mountain bike-oriented 'crosser I know. The pre-registration list was a little intimidating, because it was essentially a confluence of every woman who had beaten me in an OVCX race this year all showing up on once, along with quite a few others, since there were 34 women in our field.

After pre-riding the course, and noticing quite a few slick and/or technical choke points, I knew I needed to ride like hell and not get caught up behind too many people. So I did. Rebecca and a junior rider took off fast, but I stayed close and only gave up one position on the long open stretch before the sandpit. That is pretty good for me on a long open stretch, but it was still one position too many. I had to be careful negotiating the sandpit and the tight turn up to the barriers behind the other rider, but no mistakes were made and by the next open section we'd caught the junior girl in second. I knew the most technical sections were coming up so I passed them both. The junior girl stayed on and passed me back for a while. We battled back and forth for the rest of the race. I tried attacking her a few times early in the third lap, but she matched me every time. I decided to sit on until the flat out-and-back before the finish, since I had been faster in that section on the previous two laps, but she got a little gap and I was not quite able to make it up by the finish. I did, however, reach my recently stated goal of getting a top three overall, and I was only 10 seconds out of first. I would call it a damn good good day of racing for me.

This picture is actually from last weekend at Gearfest, but I thought it was a good one.


Judi said...

you've been racing really well. ive been lurking on your blog this fall and you are really rocking it. good for you.

transport said...
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