DNFing @ Bubba’s

Today was the Bubba Xmas CX race in Gill, MA. It was a race, but not really a race–the organizer cancelled it due to snow and downed trees on the property after a good bit of weather. Our money was refunded and an “at your own risk” race was held instead. Since there were only 11 total racers pre-reg’d, this was more of an informal, connect with your local cycling community event. Very low key and small. All the pressure was off for this one, and I was happy to check out this somewhat local course.

Jon O was smart enough to bring the mtb.

Jon O was smart enough to bring the mtb.

I arrived 10 minutes before start time and got about a half a lap preride in before beginning. Heather and I both lined up in the rear. The men took off and quickly formed a single thread of riders. The course was treacherous in some places. The flat parts in the center field had a few inches of snow to grind through. Finding a line in the snow was a crapshoot. The woods were pretty straightforward. A little muddy and greasy in the corners but manageable. The singletrack by the river had icy descents that threatened to dump you in the the drink if you didn’t have the bike handling skills. My first lap I took very easy.

There was a long hill with a gnarly descent at the start of the second lap. There were a few descents which prompted me to get down in the drops for better brake control and keep my ass off the saddle and as far back as I could manage for balance. Many parts of the course favored a mountain bike, and a few guys had the presence of mind to bring theirs. Cross bikes worked, but probably weren’t the best tool for the job.

The only pavement there.

The only pavement there.

My second lap went better, and faster, although I was not going race speed. The snow made that impossible, really, and the course conditions were dicey enough to warrant caution. I concentrated on my “smooth is fast” mantra and started clearing sections I previously dismounted for. I was shocked when I made it through the mud section on the banks of the river without a single dismount. I was starting to have some fun, and the course was exactly what I like–technical. Things were definitely improving, and I was feeling decent when I started lap 3 (with 4 to go….)

That’s when the crash happened.

There was a long hill after an icy bridge, some loose rock where there wasn’t snow and ice, and then thick mud. I dismounted and ran (ok, walked) the bike here. I did not remount at the crest of the hill, because the conditions of the descent was just a little too sketchy for a “fun” race. I walked it down to a semi flat section about halfway down the hill, then remounted and pointed my front wheel forward. Before I knew what was happening, the bike slide out from underneath me and I slammed down hard on the side of the hill.  It took me a moment to collect myself–I was a bit dazed and I wasn’t sure I wasn’t seriously hurt. My head had hit the ground hard and I felt my helmet catch the impact. I was shaken up, and it took me a moment or two to get to my feet and clear my bike from the course. When I got clear, another rider crashed in the exact same spot–except he hopped up unharmed and kept going. I considered for a split second continuing, but I felt shaken up enough that I decided to just head back to the fire burning in an old oil barrel at the start line.

Heather, who had abandoned after the first 100 feet of the race in favor of spectating saw me walking my bike back and came to intercept me. I hadn’t noticed my chain had dropped from the crash. The entire left side of my body was coated in mud from my upper shoulder down to my ankle. I knew I was OK–but not really OK enough to jump back in the action. We waited for the guys to finish next to the fire.

Sliding down a muddy hill will rip your number off.

Sliding down a muddy hill will rip your number off.

This race wasn’t official, didn’t count for anything but fun, good practice and a reason to socialize with your selected cycling tribe. I had that in mind the whole time. But I was still second guessing my decision to stop. I had a lousy race at Cheshire and had wanted this to be fun, but redeeming. Although I know I made the right decision, I had wanted a different outcome. When I got home, I examined my helmet and found it had cracked it from the impact. I knew I banged my upper thigh pretty good but the circle of pain had many friends who have now made their presence known. My knee, upper thigh, lower glute, shoulder and the palm of my right hand has a purple lump growing on it. I’m sore all over from the body slam from mother earth. But it’s my ego that still suffers the most…..


Thanks to Heather for being my cheering squad and riding over from her house to watch the carnage. And thanks for making sure I got home ok!

There is still Scrub Zone Nationals on January 11th. I might need to wait until then for redemption



About Karen

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

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