Sloper CX 2012 Race Report


Camp Sloper held it’s annual cyclocross race to a warm, bright autumn day during peak foliage season here in New England.  Sloper is in Southington, CT and getting there didn’t take long, providing you have a trusty Mapquest App on your smart phone.  I got there with ample time–I am finally getting the timing down on these races and know that it isn’t outrageous to arrive 3 hours before the start of your race.

The day before I had spent in the Ronald Reagan Airport in DC, stuck while I waited for the airline to get us another plane.  I had come off a week of traveling, no workouts, and poor diet.  I was really tired and felt thin in my attempt to do most things.  Get dressed, pack the car, have breakfast–all took deliberate effort.  I was deeply fatigued but had registered and it was such a beautiful day, I decided to push on in the hopes that I would rally, as I often do.

The rally never came for me.  The course had very minor elevation changes (almost none) and no barriers.  There was a steep, slightly muddy climb with a hairpin at the crest, a sandy beach with a stair run up, and a sand volleyball court as obstacles.  There was a section of woodchips which were more treacherous than they looked, and some small loose gravel areas.  But you really only had to dismount once a lap for the stairs.  Otherwise if you had the power and the sand gods were on your side, you could just ride through.

I took my place in the back with the other Cat 4 women.  I delayed the entire race by accidentally pinning my number upside down, and the woman next to me re-pinned it for me (thank you!)  A rookie move for sure, I laughed it off and the other women seemed to take my mistake in good humor (I hope so anyway).

Then we started.  I didn’t feel good from the start, but I know the first lap can mean a lot and I pushed what I had, which wasn’t much.  I managed to pass the woman in front of me, then she me, and then we played cat & mouse for the next 2 laps.  Then I was done.  What little energy I had slipped away so quickly–I felt transparent.  I tried to hold off another woman who was downright chipper.  She was chatty and conversational and rode with me a bit.  I appreciate her because she was friendly and puts things in perspective….and I didn’t really mind when she finally pushed past me.

I had a spill too.  My pedals were sticking and my cleats were also filled with sand.  I got in on one side before a small climb but could not clip into the other.  I lost momentum and fell over. Then tried to unclip when on the ground with no leverage. I struggled on the ground, twisting the bike away from my foot to unclip, get up and run through the mess I was in.  Sand was a first for me and boy you need to choose your path carefully.  I think there is an art to it but some spots just seemed to snag you.  The sand was a major time and energy suck.  It drains you quickly.

The sand was brutal.

Then I was alone for the last 3 laps.  And when I say alone–I was ALONE.  I saw the chipper woman a few times in front of me but by the last lap she was out of sight.  I saw NO ONE behind me.  I thought for sure I was last.  All I had in my head was to finish the damn thing and go home.  As much as I wanted to “turn it on” there was nothing to turn….nothing in the legs, no strength at all.

I finished and headed back to my car and kind of crashed.  I felt nauseous and dizzy.  I tried to eat something.  I drank and coughed and sneezed and sat for a bit to try to collect myself.  I thought about driving away immediately.  But then I thought I should check results and snap a few pictures so I did.

Perfect Fall day for Cyclocross.

When home, I got progressively worse.  This happens to me sometimes after a big event and effort.  I get really sick.  Headache, nausea, and stomach fall out.  This is the 4th time it has happened, and I have been very careful this year to eat and drink correctly before during and after these events.  From the week I had prior, I think my system was just off its game. And with no one sticking a bottle of Gatorade in my hand and telling me to drink, I probably wasn’t getting enough hydration.  It was a rough reminder that I need to be careful about hydration and nutrition.

Additionally, I checked my numbers on Strava.  I could not believe my average MPH.  I am capable of faster speeds by 2-3 MPH on courses with more elevation and physical barriers.  On this day I was SLOW.  How I felt for the whole race was right there in the numbers.

All day yesterday was pretty shot for me as a result.  And I admit for a good part of the day, I was feeling so sick I thought “This isn’t worth it.”  But now that I’m feeling a little better (still fighting something I think, but better than yesterday), I’m thinking that I need to end of a high note.  I have 3 more races I’m seriously considering.  The 2 days at Northampton and then Hop Brook back in CT.  That should give me a few more opportunities to finish strong for the year.

–Karen

PS–Results are in and I was not last.  There looks like there were again, issues with the final numbers.  The first results showed out of 15 women I was 12th (I took a photo of the handwritten results at the race).  Official results from crossresults.com show I was 13th. I’m not sure what the issue was but it hardly matters.  I had a bad day and could have done better.  Not by much but better.  Next time….

More Photos Here of the Men 35+:

Approaching the sand.

Staging for the men to start.

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About Karen

When I was 10, I used to think I was the bionic woman.

4 responses to “Sloper CX 2012 Race Report”

  1. Tim Cary (@tdcary) says :

    Thanks for the report. Hang in there- we all have bad ones. Many kudos for getting out there and pushing through. It makes you stronger. Keep up the perseverance and don’t let anything deter you!

  2. Karen says :

    Thanks Tim. ‘Cross is fun, just wasn’t for me that day…..I’m looking forward to another fun one soon.

  3. womencyclists says :

    Congrats on still finishing! Hope that you are soon able to race without feeling sick. Fun post to read!

  4. bgddyjim says :

    Sorry to see you had a rough go. Hope you feel better.

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