Thank you ma’am may I have another! Race Report-Silk City

So it’s done.  Let’s talk about it.

I was amped, as you know, for the previous 3 days leading up to the race.  I think I was tiring myself out.  Before leaving the house I was organized, and surprisingly calm and quiet.  I had a solo car ride south about 45 minutes to an hour, no big deal.  That was when the problems started.

Pre-Race Issues

Traffic:  Have you heard of the Big E?  After living in the valley for oh, 25 years, you’d think I’d have this on my radar.  It’s the Eastern States Exposition and is a pretty big deal.  I have to drive right by it to get to the race.  That day, it broke an attendance record.  164, 251 people were driving to the Big E as I was trying to get to the race.  I was hemmed in on Interstate 91 in bumper to bumper traffic.

Number Placement:  Now I really could have used a friend here.  The number goes on your ribcage, between your lower shoulder and your spine.  I screwed it up and had to redo it, and to do that, I had to hide in my car and disrobe since I can’t pin anything behind my back.  I stabbed my fingers til they bled because while I was doing that……

My back tire flatted.  BEFORE the race.  Yes, 30 minutes before the race I had a flat tire and I was fully whigging out.  I had a spare tube, and no tire levers (yeah, not so organized).  But regardless–I’m so slow at changing a tube I’d never get it done on time myself.  I walked the bike from the parking lot of the hill to the start area and found a mechanic from a local bike shop under a tent. I wish I had it together enough to remember him, his name or his shops name because he singlehandedly saved the race for me, and I completely appreciate his expertise.

Pre-ride debacle:  This gave me 15 minutes to pre-ride the course.  I didn’t get far.  I only got about 1/2 way around it before some guy started yelling “you’d better get to the start line, the women are lining up!”  The most direct path to the start line was through several tape barriers–riding there was not an option if I wanted to get there on time.  So I had to drag my bike under the tape, the handlebars catching and tangling awkwardly, in plain view of the rest of the women’s field.  I fumbled, stumbled, and tripped my way to the start line.  So there was the public humiliation I was dreading, and I hadn’t even started yet.

The Start

The faster women were called up to the line first based upon their rankings at  There were 4 of us unranked….we were the new girls of the bunch.  I fell last among this group and after the tape tangled entrance I felt it was probably the safest place for me–and everybody else.  We received instructions. the whistle blew and we were off.  Immediately I shot ahead of one woman who I expected to power ahead when the field broke apart and there was room.  It never happened.  100 feet into the race and I was no longer last.  The course started grassy and winding–a fast and easy start for sure.  The next woman I came upon about  a half a mile into the race.  She was negotiating her turns and left an opening on the inside each time.  I took it and shot ahead of her.  Now I was 3rd last.  Getting better.  I would have been pleased with that too–then about a mile in a made contact with another rider.  We were entering one of the many technical sections of the race and she was taking it easy on a sketchy hill turn.  I passed.  We played cat and mouse for the next 3 laps until I finally held the 4th from last position.  The race was about half over now.  It was 20 minutes in and I felt a little less pressure which was a relief, because I felt like coding.  My heart was beating out of my chest and I felt my stomach churn upwards.  I took a tiny rest on a decent and plowed on.  The course was very dry and dusty and there were sharp turns up hills and down hills and around trees.  There were one set of barriers, but three run ups and a double step and log obstacle as well.  I was off the bike 5 times a lap. The steepest run up had a decent that I would not ride down–and for any of you who know me–I ride down some crazy shit.  This descent freaked me out and I walked down it every time.  Had I mastered that decent, I might not have been lapped by the top two women.  The lapping resulted in a DNF*** for me and the 3 women behind me, which I guess is a common result of an open field race with faster racers.

No matter.  The last 20 minutes of the race I felt more and more confident and progressed through the difficult areas better and better.  I was exhausted but racing now, still pushing it.  I remained alone for the next couple of laps with no one in front of me (well–let’s be truthful–nearly everyone was in front of me, just so far out I couldn’t see them).  I didn’t feel badly that I was lapped–they were fast women and way more experienced.  Although it is a bummer I got a DNF–I felt I did a solid job for a first effort.  No crashes, a few tired misfires when clipping back in on the remount which slowed me down, but I jumped the barriers well and managed the technical stuff fairly well (except the steep descent–that was crazy).

After the race was over I ended up chatting with the woman I played cat and mouse with.  It was her first race too and she’s entered a mess of them this season, so we may meet up again in Northampton.

All & all I found it an awesome experience–very addictive.  I can’t wait to go again and the very next morning I was out at the local cross course doing laps.

Next race…..Night  Weasels?  We’ll see…..


***See Post Script for update to this post.


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About Karen

Mid-life female amateur athlete focused on cyclocross, mountain biking, and road cycling.

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