The race I finally got Heather to do! 2 years of bugging paid off. I have finally converted another to the sport of cyclocross. I’ll let her post about her experience, if she so chooses. The following is from my point of view.
Heather met me at my house to carpool down to Cheshire early Saturday morning. We made a hasty stop at Highland Hardware & Bike for a mechanical issue Heather came across when converting her Fuji from commuter bike to cross rig. As per usual, the crew at Highland saved the day. The service there is spectacular. They had us on our way within 10 minutes.
We arrived at Cheshire Town Park and in an unusual turn of New England November weather, it was warm. I was wildly overdressed in the winter skinsuit, but had packed no alternative. We registered and barely got one lap in for a preride before the next race began. I was hoping for at least 2 laps to review the course. The course was as fun as I remembered from last year, but dry and dusty with loose soil. I have been striking out in the mud department this year–the closest I’ve come so far is Providence. The course itself has all great features for a cyclocross race: woods, sand, epic run ups, roots, turns. Great technical riding with more woods than grass.
Heather seemed incredulous that she was actually present and accounted for and intending on finally racing–right up to the whistle. I’m smiling remembering this :)
Cat 4 Women lined up after the Elite call up. We started a minute behind the Women Pro 1-2-3′s. We scrumed for the front line and I got a front spot on the inside. When out whistle blew, I was off and made a tight first turn. I was 3rd through the hole shot and kept that position for nearly the whole first lap. My overall goal was a top 50% finish, and so far I was making it.
My fast start caught up to me. I’ve had a nagging congestion for the last 6 weeks. After 1 lap, my sinuses opened and started dumping stringy mucus down my throat. Sorry for the disgusting description, but it was…..well it was disgusting. I was literally choking. This was seriously distracting from my focus and speed. I tried to clear the crap from my throat and spent the entire 2nd lap doing so (sorry–gross. I know). I final was breathing a bit easier by the third lap, but I had damaged my place. I was passed by one or two more racers on the 3rd lap. I still had energy and was planning on throwing it all down for lap #4, but with just a couple 100 yards to go, I was passed by the leader of the elite race, and she was about to cross the finish line. The rule is when the elite leader crosses the line and finishes, so does EVERYBODY behind her. Which meant I never got my final lap, or chance to make up any ground. I felt a little shortchanged. I had more race in me, and nowhere to put it.
I finished 8 of 14. 2 DNFed. I missed my 50% goal again. I’m definitely mid pack on these smaller grassroots races, so I’m happy about that. Heather and I packed up and hit the road after the results were posted.
The good news is that Heather reports she enjoyed herself and has penciled in two more races for 2013: Sterling CX in Sterling, MA and DAS BEavEr CX Race in Dayville, CT. I am doing these races as well.
Photo notes: I didn’t take a single picture this year but found some online that I’m borrowing (they had a sharing button so I consider that fair game–if you are the creator of any photo I posted please contact me and I will remove it immediately or give you props–whatever you prefer!). I took a ton last year and have used those as well to give readers a taste of the venue.
I have been slacking on my blogging duties. Sorry about that. I raced my bike a couple of weeks ago–let’s chat about that little race in Connecticut.
Cheshire CX took place in the Cheshire Town Park and had 197 racers in total. The amateur women had 2 groups–cats 1-3 and a separate Cat 4 which was scored separately, although we Cat 4s raced a minute behind the 1-3s.
I was alone again for this race, which I have to admit is getting old. The bright spot is that I’ve become friendly with another Cat 4 who started racing at the same time. We both did Sloper CX as our first race, and it has been the only time I have beaten her. She’s in her 20′s, it was bound to happen. Anyway it’s great to pair up and do a warm up with another racer and just talk bikes. I don’t get that a lot and I appreciate the new friends I’m meeting by pursuing cyclocross.
The course was in a word: awesome. I knew this would be a course I liked. Lots of twists and turns, lots of woods and roots and rocks and trees. There was sand, and grass, and loose leaves and pine needles. It even had mud! I was so excited. There were 2 run ups that forced a dismount. The first one I liked better than the second. The second run up was technically rideable but I couldn’t do it, and I didn’t see anyone in my group riding it. It was a 80 meter hill with some steep hairpins at the top. It was tough the first time, painful the second, and by the third lap my legs actually started to seize up on me. I nearly fainted (no joke) at the top after remounting and trying to spin away from the hilltop and the pain.
Despite this, I was having a blast. The course has a roller coaster quality to it and was more technical than I had seen in other venues. I really liked this. More time in the woods meant I was more in my element. There was a woman behind me who laughing, named me “motivation” and tried to pass me. She did, then the woods would come and I’d pass her on the run up. She remarked “Oh. This is where you are good.” Yup. I’ll take that as a compliment. She stayed on my wheel for 2 laps. I had opened a pretty big gap on her on the first of those laps but by the last lap she was closing and I knew–I just knew, she would sprint for the win. I also knew I was pretty spent from the 80 meter exercise in pain. I tried to make a little time on her but she was on me, and pounced in the last straightaway to the finish line. As she passed me, she yelled “let’s go!” She wanted to race. I responded for about 2 seconds and knew I was toast. She rode away and stole 7th place from me–she earned it entirely.
I really like engaging in these mini races inside the race–I like it a lot. I want to go back to Cheshire next year and really improve, because I know I am faster than my performance. I felt “ok” for the race but not my best, not like I felt in Northampton or Providence. This also may be my last race of the season. There are only a couple of weeks left of racing in New England. I’m missing Warwick and Ice Weasels, but I might…..maybe……do the New England Championships in Fitchburg. This sounds more impressive than it is, to me it’s another race. There is a 35+ Women’s category on Saturday that I would do–IF I decide to. Jury is still out….but I’m strongly considering it.