Cyclocross Dust Bowl

After my race last Wednesday I spent a few days attempting to recover from bee stings and trying to decide if I like cyclocross. I decided I did and started looking for a new handle bar for the next race.  I was able to replace the handle bars and wrap new grip tape on time to join in the Tuesday staff ride for openers up Pattee Canyon, but it turns out I needn't have rushed the bike fix job.  My new bike came in just in time to race!

The BH Team RX Force
Like Shaun and Owen, and now Sarah, I got the BH Team RX Force to ride this CX season.  We now have a fleet in the office and an entire size run.  Thanks to BH for helping us get rolling again!

I got the bike put together (with a little help from Open Road Bike and Ski) by Wednesday morning, just in time to go out for a run with fellow TCH staffers Brendan and Ian.  I had decided not to run that morning so my legs would be fresh for the race. So, naturally, it made since for me to go for an hour-and-a-half long run a mere four hour before the race, in the heat.  I don't think I stopped sweating from 1pm to 9pm yesterday.

After the run up and down Sentinal (it made even more sense to run up a mountain before the race) Owen and I went over to the Equestrian Park to set up a tent for last minute Hell Ride sign ups.  Then it was race time!

Going into the race yesterday I was much less nervous than last week.  I knew a little bit more of what to expect, and I knew it was possible to survive. I opt

ed to start a little slower so my last laps would hopefully be more enjoyable, especially since it was 91 degrees at the start, but when the whistle sounded I couldn't get clipped in and started way slower than intended.

Start of the junior devision
Immediately the course turned into a perpetually raging dust storm.  Being in the 'B's meant that we had the honor of riding through the dust of the 'A's.  And I got to eat the dust off the wheel in front of me. In a few spots visibility was nil. I just hoped the guy in front of me picked good lines.

Despite being at the same venue the course was completely different.  It was still bumpy, but I enjoyed the course much better than last week. My first two laps still weren't great, but then I got into a rhythm and actually felt like I was racing. The men's 'B's get awesome orange bibs, and I started to pay attention to the orange. I was able to latch onto a wheel, then when an orange passed I jumped on that wheel. I pretty much leech-frogged my way up the field for a few laps.

I decided I would make a big move halfway through the sixth and final lap. But, like most of my ideal race plans, I crashed in the sand. Well, not me exactly, a woman we were trying to lap. She went down and forced me off the bike, which meant I got to run the sand and then play catch-up the rest of that lap.

Starting the 6th lap the two guys on whom I was struggling to hang on, took each other out in that same sand and I was clear. Clear for another quarter lap until a guy on a mountain bike on flat pedals blew by me. I tried to rally to hang on, and did for a bit, but couldn't quite get him at the end. All the explosive energy in my legs I think I left on the run.

Lacking finishing power
Between my first race and last night I felt way more comfortable on the bike. I was actually able to sit close behind people. I cleared the barriers much better. And, most exciting for me, I felt like I was racing for a majority of the race.

That being said, I still have a lot to focus on. Getting back on the bike after a barrier is probably my weakest point and I lost a lot of time there yesterday. There is a very elegant flying leap a lot of the guys here have perfected, but the one time I tried I ended up smashing my ankle in between pavement and my bike frame. Flying leaps only work for me if they end in a swimming pool, not onto two rolling wheels.

The Missoula Cyclocross community is great. Everyone Sara and I have met is very outgoing and welcoming of us into the community. Although fitness-wise I would have liked to wait another three years before attempting cyclocross, it has been a great way for us to meet people and wiggle our way into the friend zone.

No bee stings to recover from this week so plenty of time to perfect my flying leap!