Providence Cyclocross Festival Race Report-Day 3-Sunday 2013
This race, Divine Providence as it’s called, was so much fun. I think it’s the most fun I’ve had so far. I regret not staying longer, I regret not taking Friday off and getting a hotel room and making it a long CX weekend experience. There is so much to get excited about, and I can’t talk about it all in one post. So for now–I’ll talk about the race. My race. The Women’s Cat 3/4 35+ race.
It was raining the whole way down to Providence. We left at 6:30AM and arrived a bit after 8:00AM. The rain backed off a bit, spitting and stopping and spitting again. The parking was crazy–it was much busier than last year. I hustled down to registration, grabbed a number, hustled back to the car, changed, pinned, and tried to make a full lap of a pre-ride. I got 1/2 lap before riders were pulled from the course for the Men’s Cat 4/5 9AM race. I scoped out some of the course from behind the barriers. There were several similarities to last year. The course was wet and a little muddy, but with the same rolling terrain with fun curves. I have to admit I was more than a little excited for the rain. This was going to be a real CX experience! I met up with my pal Vickie and met a few of her friends and we kibitzed about CX waiting for call up to start.
At the call up, I enjoyed chatting with more new friends. There were lots of familiar faces and the chatter was happy and friendly. I had an average start, but I made my way into the first 1/3 again. There were 135 racers and the pack was tight, especially in the corners. Things felt slow (and this is coming from me so they must have been awfully slow) and I felt excited. I jumped off the single file and onto the grass and started passing women. I rode wide into the corners and passed more. I was chasing a new friend, Natalie. She just started racing this year after lots of success on the mountain bike and she’s a better racer than I am. I knew if I could keep up with her, I’d be doing OK.
I caught Natalie, and passed her. I was riding aggressively, more aggressively than I have in a race. There were always other racers around me. In front, in back–I never lost contact with other riders throughout the entire race. I tried to find another carrot to chase. I was riding well and still had energy, but I knew I couldn’t keep the pace up much longer. Then Natalie appeared again. She was smiling, and yelled “I wish we lived closer, I’d love to train with you!”
That was the last I saw of her.
I faded a bit, but still pushed. Cat and mouse with several riders. I noticed something: in the mud and on the corners especially, other riders appeared timid. They slowed way down on the corners. I had to brake so I wouldn’t crash into them. I realized I could be faster in these areas and started to use it to my advantage. I even sprinted on a couple of straight areas. On the flyover, a series of tight “S” curves preceded the steep climb up the flyover. Many riders swung way out to get a running start. I didn’t need it, and picked up positions by cutting the corner shot and muscling up the flyover, then cutting the corners out of the flyover area.
These technical areas were wonderful fun. I love them. I delighted in managing my approach and tactics. Stronger riders still passed me on straight areas, but the cat and mouse game was enthralling. Then the third lap came.
On this lap, the rain was light but steady. I wasn’t concerned about the rain. I wear inserts in my glasses, so removing my glasses is problematic in the rain–my vision is blurry. But the rain obscured my vision from my left eye. Still–I managed. The real problem was that I felt like I was bonking. My heart rate was crazy high. That familiar pain in my right shoulder came back (I had that in Gloucester too). I felt totally cooked. I slowed way down. I grew dizzy. Riders passed me. I needed to de-escalate my heart rate but didn’t want to slow down anymore.
I recovered enough as I came to the bell lap–I knew I had just this last lap and then I was done, and I didn’t want to lose any more positions. I was still ambitious enough to think I might be able to gain a position or two. I was still cat and mousing with a couple of riders. As I came into the last section of grass and woods before the pavement to the finish line, I heard a guy cheering for the rider behind me. I didn’t know where she was, how close she was behind me or even what she looked like. But I held her off. Then I heard the man yell “Get her on the pavement!” I knew she’d hit the pavement and sprint for the finish, and I was worried about that. I’m a poor sprinter. So as soon as I jumped the curb off the grass, I pedaled as hard as I could. It was at least 100 yards, maybe more of sprinting. She passed me with about 30 feet to go to the finish line. But I had given it my all.
Afterwards, I almost threw up. My effort was so intense I was choking. I had taken a decongestants for what I thought were some mild allergies, but now I think I may have a mild cold. My throat was full of junk and breathing was complicated. After a little rest and some water, I could speak intelligibly again.
My result wasn’t too bad. I’m definitely landing in the middle of the pack. I place 70th of 135 riders. Only 91 finished. Honestly, I thought I had done better. I thought I had placed at least 10 more positions ahead of 70. I realize that this was the largest field I had raced in, with riders from all over the northeast, many of them quite a bit younger than me. 70 isn’t awful. I felt very happy with how I rode the first part of the race. I pushed hard the whole race-to the point I was dizzy and bile rose up in my throat. I gave it everything, but still I hoped for a better result.
The good and the bad:
- I love mud!
- I am approaching and handling corners faster and more confidently than some other riders.
- I rode more aggressively in this race than in any other.
- I am not afraid of riding in large groups
- I’m finding time in technical areas
- I have to find a way to maintain energy throughout the race
- I am curious if nutrition choices before the race can help me maintain energy in the 3rd and 4th laps
- I’m still losing time on the straits
This is my 5th race this year–which means I’m officially 1/2 way through cyclocross season. I’ve managed to reliably worm my way into the middle of the pack. My next goal is to break through the top 50%. I keep coming up short of that goal.
Next year I want to do both days. I had so much fun riding this course–it’s rolling and flows and just loads of fun. I have been thinking all week “I want to do that again!” But I have to wait a whole year for Holy Week.