|Rattlesnake from the CDT in NM, not Missoula|
After last Wednesday's cyclocross race, I moved up to fifth in the 'B' standings. I spent Saturday watching riders race and work very hard to complete the frigid Montana Hell Ride (I was manning an aid station and trying to fire-roast gummy bears, they just melt, waste of time) and between watching those guys and finishing higher last week, I was pumped for race #3. 'Pumped' may be the wrong word. It was more a mix of nervousness and excitement. Excitement because I got to race again. It is hard to watch people race all day and not want to be out there as well, even in cold conditions. Nervous because I couldn't hide anymore, at least in my mind. The first two races I felt there were no expectations because I could disappear in the pack. But since am good at putting unreasonable expectations on myself, I decided I had to be in the top 5 the whole race and anything less would be a disappointment. So I got nervous yesterday.
The course moved from the bumpy, dusty and miserable Equestrian Park to another park that is a lot more pleasant. Hellgate Cyclery did a great job designing a course that had a mix of tight turns through trees and longer fast sections. I only got one lap in on a pre-ride, but it was enough to make me worried about tight pine needle covered turns and excited to be able to open it up on longer straight-aways.
|Sara refueling during the Hell Ride|
The catching up made the next two laps miserable. I felt like I could barely hang on, but the drafting was just enough that I could hang in there. At this point I think I was 5th or so in the B's (Open A's and Master A's were just ahead and we all traded back and forth). By lap four I started feeling better and was able to bridge the gap to third third B guy. I sat with him a bit then tried to make another move up to number, got defeated by the wind, and had to try again. Coming into the 6th lap though I was able to latch on, catch my breath and prepare for another move to the leader. I really, really did not want to get beat by the, then, second place guy. He had just nipped me at the line last week so I wanted to get him for sure this week. So, when I passed him, I went all-out in the hope that he couldn't catch on. I did pull away and create a gap, right into a standstill traffic jam going through the ditch. My timing was terrible.
I thought he was going to be able to hang on again, but I managed to get through the backup before he did and catch up to the leader. We rode together a little and traded leads to try and create more distance between us and the next chaser. Going over the barriers starting lap seven I was able to get clear a bit and decided to make a move, especially when I heard Cory, the other guy, hit the barriers with his bike. I created a gap, but couldn't quite get away. I rode scared for a good portion of that last lap. Coming into the ditch (dry irrigation canal) I spun out in the sand and had to put my foot down, cramped up trying to get clipped back in, and was fairly sure I had just lost the race. Again, fortunately for me, Cory went down on the previous turn (he's ok) and I had enough of a gap. I still rode pretty scared the rest of the way, but managed to sneak away with the victory in the B's.
|The course for week #3|
It's always nice to win, but I think I'm more happy with the fact that I was able to actually race for an hour. Compared to my first race when I only felt like I was racing for a few minutes, I feel like I have come a long way in a short time. Doesn't mean I can get cleanly over the barriers, or negotiate turns very well, but being able to focus that long is something that takes me a while to re-learn.
I have today (Thursday) off from work so I planned to run up Stuart Peak in the Rattlesnake. Recovery from cyclocross takes longer than I anticipated. I made it five slow miles into the run. My quads are still full of lactic acid and running up a mountain didn't seem to help. The Rattlesnake is beautiful though. The fall colors are just about in full swing and I ran through alternating dark clouds and brilliant rays of sun. I can't wait to get back up there, but preferably when my legs feel better.
Sunday I will be driving up to Whitefish for my return to trail running. I'll be running the Whitefish Legacy 20k and hoping that cyclocross fitness transfers to trail racing. I am looking forward to feeling more connected to the trails, and explore some of Whitefish. Update to follow!