Thursday, November 19, 2015

Kutztown Cross and The Unofficial Team Laser Cats presented by Snacks Team Tent

I line up to race with my pink bar tape
Nobody's looking at me now
Like, "Who's that chick that's rockin' knee socks?
She gotta be from out of town."

So hard with my girls not around me
It's definitely not a Louisville party
And suddenly I seem so slow
I guess I never got the memo

My tummy's turnin' and I'm feelin' kinda home sick
Too much pressure and I'm nervous
That's when the starter dropped my favorite tune
And 'cross season was on
And 'cross season was on
And 'cross season was on

There's no hand-ups,
But they're playing my song,
The butterflies fly away
Skiddin' through the turns like yeah
Racin' up the hills like yeah
There's no hand-ups,
But they're playin' my song
I know I'm gonna be OK
Yeah, it's a 'cross race in the USA
Yeah, it's a 'cross race in the USA

I kind of struggled with crossasizing my song lyrics this week, but theme of the song fit perfectly. I actually got the idea earlier in the season when “Party in the U.S.A” was playing over the speakers at a race and it struck a chord with the out-of-place, sort of bummer feeling that I was feeling at the time. I decided to pocket the idea until I could turn into something positive, and this week seemed like a good time to pull it out. As I’ve said before, sometimes my weekly blog post is just an exercise in exploring what was positive/interesting/funny about the previous week when the events of racing and training are a bit mundane.

And my race at Kutztown on Sunday was definitely mundane. Due to the fact that the course is very flat, not very technical, and had lots of long bumpy straights, it wasn’t particularly surprising that I didn’t do well. I was basically strung out in my place near the back by the time we even got through the prologue, and while it was normal for me to settle into the spot right behind Michaela, instead of our regular epic battle, I just tried unsuccessfully to close the gap and watched her become smaller and smaller as the race wore on. Basically, nothing else happened the rest of the race except for one girl who had been slowly creeping up through the first lap and a half finally riding away from me on the worst straight of the second lap.

Then I mostly just tried to keep pedaling hard and make it to the end while the new Garmin 520 that Frank had given me as a birthday present earlier in the week beeped at me for the entire last two laps of the race. Apparently I accidently turned on a pre-programmed workout feature, and after 20 minutes, it kept beeping and telling me that I needed to maintain a minimum of 200 watts. Sorry, Garmin, I know we don’t know each other that well yet, but I really only break 200 watts when I’m accelerating out of corners.

Kutztown was a good day despite not being the best race for me, thanks to the “Unofficial Team Laser Cats presented by Snacks Team Tent”. After a successful team bake sale at Sly Fox, the Laser Cats were discussing what to do with the money that was earned, and the idea of a team tent came up. I imagined a central beacon of Laser Cat awesomeness where we could gather at races and perhaps serve as the candy-colored first installment in Pennsylvania’s equivalent of the tent-lined “Heckle Hill” at the Kings CX course. I remembered the unused Kellogg’s Snacks tent that Frank and I brought to a couple of races last year in hopes of recreating some OVCX team tent magic, only to discover that it was a lot of work and kind of lame with only two people on board. I realized that I now had the right group of people to make the thing actually work. Plus snacks are an important part of the team motto, so until we could afford a custom tent with cats and lasers and pretty colors, a snacks tent would serve well enough.

It worked out really well with all of the Cats, friends of Cats, and dogs of Cats having a place to hang out and spectate throughout the day. I’m really glad that I’m starting to get to know the team and feel like part of the group, since my journey to full-fledged Laser Cat-dom has been a bit slow and awkward throughout the season.

When my friend Tanya texted me back in the summer saying that there was a women’s team called Laser Cats looking for members, I couldn’t jump on that bandwagon quickly enough. However, I think I may have misinterpreted the third-hand message, and there was more to becoming one of the team than simply joining a Facebook group and ordering a skinsuit. So it was a little weird introducing myself to team members when the season began, as we’d had only a bit of Internet interaction. Basically it felt like, “I have no kit, I don’t live in Philly, and we don’t actually have any direct mutual friends, but I’m one of you, I promise.” Slowly, as I got my kit and talked to the other girls at races more, I started to feel like part of the group. In retrospect, I guess that if I met my fiance’ on Instagram, it’s okay that I met my teammates there, as well.

I know that my PACX experience will never be exactly like what I had in OVCX, but enough time has passed for me to realize that isn’t a bad thing. While I would still like to see a greater manifestation of race day community/fun, where everyone comes together to socialize and spectate before and after their own races, I think there is something special about the Philly-area cycling community in general that I’m only beginning to understand and appreciate after taking off my Shamrock green tinted (or tented) glasses. I’m excited about the commitment to women’s cycling outreach and advocacy that our team has, as well as the commitment to fun that involves cats, bikes, and snacks. I hope to contribute what I can from my “satellite” location in State College, and maybe bring some of the spirit back home with me when I have a chance. Maybe my contribution to the team mission can be finding more ways to inject the race day “fun” factor into the PACX scene, but maybe that doesn’t necessarily mean heckles and hand-ups the way it used to, as the latter actually will get you disqualified here. All I know is that my race days have become a lot more fun lately, thanks to a great groups of girls in candy-colored cat kits.


elisabeth said...

I'm glad you're starting to feel more at home! I, too, came from a scene with a much deeper party-all-day atmosphere, piercing heckles, and no shortage of handups. Last year was my loneliest and worst season ever, getting my teeth kicked in and not having any teammates. I feel like Team Snack Tent is a great start to building a shenanigan-filled hub for our little group. We're getting there. :)

Fred Iversen said...

Thanks for the mention! The Shamrock tent Vibe is one that is often attempted but almost never duplicated. The tent is just the bus that transports the circus. But with out the clowns the tent is nothing. I am glad you.are building your own vibe. You have learned from some of the best and I have faith we will be hearing about the adventures of the Laser Cat here soon!