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.


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 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.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. 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. 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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