Monday, September 30, 2013

Week #39: St. Mary's CX

In the days leading up to the St. Mary's CX race, I began to grow excited about the rainy forecast and the rumors of mud. We went all last season without a proper driving-rain, sloppy mudfest. Arriving at the course, I could see that all the expectations of the previous days had been met, and a practice lap left me with the impression that this could actually be the most difficult conditions in which I had ever ridden. The Kings CX course in 2011 could be considered harder because of the long forced run up to the finish line, but as hard as that was, you knew you *had* to run it. Yesterday's course didn't contain anything obviously unrideable, but there were many features that proved deceptively hard.

The difference between yesterday's race and my previous mudfest experiences was that instead of the front and center call-up that allowed me to sprint out of harm's way before the carnage ensued, I was stuck in the fourth row for the start. Since I knew I wouldn't be able to stay in front of the carnage, I decided to not waste my energy on an aggressive start and give myself space to navigate around the carnage and try to pick off as many people as possible as they made mistakes. However, there were much fewer mistakes happening in front of me during the first few minutes of the race than I expected, and I wasn't seeming to gain that much time from the ones that did happen. I also made a couple of mistakes myself while trying to predict the moves of those in front of me. 

By the middle of the first lap things were already spread out so far that I really only had one girl within sight that I might still be able to pick off. I was riding better than her technically, but I just wasn't really able to shut down the gap, and I started to realize that I just didn't feel that great physically. There wasn't anything specific that felt bad, or even an especially strong feeling of pain or heaviness in my legs. I was just missing whatever it is that normally makes me fast in mud. There was no plowing through the slop and holding it steady when my bike bounced and shuttered beneath me. Just pathetic slogging and weaving. I really only did well on the super low-speed technical parts where I could "make it", but at the cost of going 2 mph. My talent for letting it slide *just enough* through the corners and saving it at the last second barely came into play, because I was never going fast enough for cornering speed to be in an issue.

So it was kind of a bummer to not race well on such a muddy day, but I didn't get too upset about it. I'm really trying to come to terms with the fact that this season I am truly just racing for fun. It's just hard to remember that sometimes when the "fun" hurts that bad. If there is anything to be learned from the women who are 10+ years older than me and 10 minutes ahead of me, it is that I still have many years left to race cyclocross. So if this season, and maybe even next season, don't go so well while I'm making big life transitions, that's okay. For now I just need to not let my fear of being slow interfere with an otherwise fun experience.

A rare tongue-free, and even flattering, race picture

Yeah, this is more what the real me looks like.


Ed Fujawa said...

Sounds like an entertaining day. Looked like on some GPS tracks that the course climbed up the sledding hill. Were people able to ride that or was it a run up?

Lindsay Rodkey said...

Yes, it had a long drag up the sledding hill. I would say that about 2/3 of the elite women were riding it, and most of the elite men. I was able to make it up by hugging the tape and spinning my "pie plate" 38x32 gear.

Merry*Death on a Bike said...

Holy crap - 38x32 - I'm so jealous!

Sounds like a fun race - I'm really hoping we get a lot of mud/rain/snow here in MN to make up for last year's dry and hot CX season...