Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cyclocross Season has BEGUN!!

My life has been a whirlwind lately!

Get ready for a long post and a litany of photos!

I managed to get through the Rochester Marathon and subsequent recovery period.. actually, more than get through it - I enjoyed it, did well, placed in my AG, got sick, stayed sick for a week, took an exam, recovered, got an A on my exam, and haven't run a step since the race. In the week after the marathon, I was able to make my house even messier than it was before hand, make plans for and miss seeing a movie twice due to scheduling conflicts, ride my bike to and cheer at the McQuaid Invitational, and go camping for a night at Fair Haven State Park with John and his family.

I will admit, we are pretty cute. *barf*
I debuted as a CAT3 cyclocross racer (I upgraded last year and then stopped racing for the season to focus on my class: Statistical Software AKA the worst class I've ever taken in my entire life) at Webster Park CX exactly 7 days after the Rochester Marathon. In hindsight, this was not the brightest move I've ever made, but I was dying to get out there on my bike, so I did it. My body felt ok after a good 3 days of can't-move-my-legs-hell, (although I did survive a ride on Wednesday in Bay Park West with my friend Rich), but I was sick with a cold that was bound and determined to hang on, and apparently, my legs had *not* recovered. I did not race well, and I felt like I had absolutely nothing in the tank from the get-go. I was disappointed and underwhelmed with how I raced. I know that the podium is no longer going to be a regular (or possibly ever) thing for me anymore after upgrading, and I'm fine with that, but I want to at least be in the mix with the other women. Not riding alone off the back for 45 minutes wishing the race was over. I started worrying about trying to race both Sat/Sun the following weekend on a world class course that I had no idea about, with over 100 women in my field, and having to drive all the way to Providence, RI to do that.

getting ready to start at Webster CX

feelin' the pain (photo by Lee Barber)

rare photo of a flying mount in action!

day before departure - bike ride with John!
Fast forward one week. I was feeling fine again (sickness finally went away), my bike had gotten a tune up, and I had done a few bike rides (another BPW ride with Rich and a road ride on my poor, underused triathlon bike with John). I packed up all of my stuff and hit the road on Friday morning, destination: Rhode Island. I've never been to Rhode Island before and the drive wasn't too bad. Mostly I-90 but with the trees turning, it wasn't too awful. I arrived a few hours earlier than my dad and brother (my dad was driving to Brooklyn to pick up Grant and then they were heading up as well, as my brother also races 'cross). It would be the first time we've ever been at a race together! I hung out in the hotel room, catching up on some TV from the week and working on my homework assignment a bit. When they finally showed up, we walked to the restaurant next door for dinner and then we all went to bed.

double flyover
We were up early on Saturday morning (6-ish) because we had to find the park, park the cars, register, and Grant needed to pre-ride the course because he was the first race which started at 8. Can I just say that I have never seen my brother get up before 6 am. He is known for sleeping through races. I was majorly impressed (also, because I set my alarm wrong, I woke up 3 minutes before we were supposed to leave). My race was at 9:50. We did all of that and got some laps in on the wet grass. There were some obstacles I have never seen before including 2 (later, 3) "flyovers" and a jump. The double flyover was a pair of wooden platforms with ramps connecting the platform to the ground on either side. They were side by side (hence the "double" flyover) and you crossed them going in different directions. For the first flyover you ran up the ramp, mounted on top, rode down the other side, and then kept going down a steep, muddy hill. For the second flyover, you ran up a set of constructed stairs, then a short section of grass/mud, then up the flyover ramp, where you mounted on top and rode down the other side into a turn. The 3rd flyover was added after Grant's race and it was a less steep but higher platform with ramps that were actually rideable (the double flyovers were NOT rideable - at least up them, which I found out by trying to ride and subsequently crashing on in my practice lap). There was also a jump which was rideable and you only caught air if you hit it going quickly. There was a set of double barriers (very typical for a 'cross race) and on day 2, a small set of stairs that they added. Otherwise, the course was flowy & very rideable with a few short climbs but nothing absolutely demoralizing.

this is what I did to myself trying to ride the
dumb flyover. Grant told me if I "just committed"
I would make it up and over. FALSE. NOW

a ridiculous photo of Grant pinning my
number & us wearing matching skinsuits

Grant raced in a huge field of Cat 4/5 men. I can't comment much on his race because I was merely a spectator, but my dad and I caught him at several different points on the course, cheering and taking photos/video. He also had a Shimano camera which mounted on his handlebars (much like a Go Pro camera) so he was videoing his own ride. After he finished, we switched the camera to my bike, and I got in another lap before the 2nd race of the day which allowed me to become a little more comfortable with the flyovers and actually ride the 3rd one which they added in after Grant's race. Then I had to go down to the start to be "staged" because my race had over 100 women in it. I don't think I have *ever* ridden in a field more than 20 (if that) so "staging" in WNY is nonexistent really. You're either in the first row or the 2nd row. I might have been in the 8th row? Who knows. The started at rider 501 and staged by number: I was 573 and was approximately in the middle of the field at the start.

Grant in action!

waiting to be staged and apparently
I look like The Terminator here

me staging
What was awesome is that in my row of women at the start, 2 of them were local Rochester women that I see at all of the cyclocross races around here! I got my dad to take a photo of us before the race started!

me (Ride Brooklyn), Anne (Park Ave Bike Shop), Kelly (Mac5Bikes)

The start was insanity. I'm never good at the holeshot anyways so I was stuck behind a giant traffic jam of women trying to all squeeze onto a tiny 'cross course. Once I got going, it was a little strange riding in a group of so many women - going around corners and such. The first flyover was nuts. There were probably at least 20 women all on the thing at the same time - either running up it, getting on their bikes at the top, or riding down the other side. I made it through (with some screaming most likely) and the pack eventually started to thin out. I was riding pretty well with a group of women but it was very exciting/scary and I managed to run right into one of the stakes holding up the tape on the side of the course. Went down. Got back up and finished my first loop, also caught back up with that pack of women. 2nd loop, I did THE SAME THING. Ok. This is starting to get ridiculous. Caught BACK up when I then crashed a lot harder going up a hill. Luckily none of these crashes really hurt, they're just annoying. I ended up settling in behind a local Rochester woman, Kelly, and finished right behind her with no more "incidents." I wound up 66/115 women in the Cat 3/4 field.

this was partway through the first lap, on the first obstacle.
sheer insanity. you can actually see me at the top in the center.
pulled this off of the @providencecross twitter feed!
not sure how I made it down in one piece and upright with

typical 'cross shot!
Here is the youtube video of the W 3/4 field as seen from my perspective. Includes: 3 crashes, some screaming, some narration, some apologizing to women I ran into, and NO profanity (I think)!

After that, we went back to the hotel, cleaned up, got lunch, and headed to Newport, RI where we toured the Vanderbilt Mansion (The Breakers), bought an Alex and Ani bicycle charm bracelet, checked out this mysterious tower that is in Newport which no one knows how it got there, talked to a crazy dude about the tower, walked down to the water so that I could buy salt water taffy and fudge, got a drink, and then drove back to Providence in the rain for dinner.

my very appropriate and lovely Alex & Ani!

the mysterious tower of Newport, RI

Grant and I in front of the tower
Sunday morning was a repeat of Saturday morning but a bit smoother. I woke up tired, sore, bruised, etc. I knew I would have trouble getting on the course after the races started, so I did 2 preview laps before Grant's race instead of one. It had rained for most of the afternoon on Saturday and I was hoping that the course wouldn't be too muddy, which it wasn't, plus the sun came out which I'm sure helped. They had added 3 small stairs in at an uphill corner so that was an extra place that you had to dismount and remount. Otherwise, the course remained the same as the previous day. Grant raced; he was doing great but then had a saddle malfunction where he lost a bunch of places. We did the camera handoff, I staged, and I was off. No crashes on day #2 AND I started to get a bit bolder with the flyovers (I had a really hard time doing a rolling mount on the top of one of those things, so typically I would stop, get a foot clipped in, and then push off down the ramp, which took a LOT of time). I started just going down without being clipped in.. and I survived! We did an extra lap on Sunday (4 vs. 3 on Saturday). I finished 64/110. We then hit up the food trucks in the middle of the course, I bought a t-shirt and a long-sleeved jersey to commemorate my great weekend, and then headed back to Rochester.


barrier shot

I ran up a flyover 14 times in 2 days (not counting warmup laps!)

It was a great weekend! I got to spend time with my family, race a great course with my brother, I placed respectively (at least I think so) and felt confident on the course, and most importantly, had fun!

this is called "Harding style" according to Grant

family photo in Newport!
Up next: Ellison Park Cyclocross Festival here in Rochester, NY!!