BCA Cyclocross – Pittsfield, MA
Last Sunday I kicked of my cross season with a little race fairly local to me. I found the park easily, got there in plenty of time, and went about my now well established routine of getting ready.
My attitude before the race was very “meh.” I felt very ambivalent in general. The course had lots of straight wide tracks in the grass, favoring someone with raw power and speed (something I distinctly lack). There was not a lot of technical areas and very few turns, and not a lot of hills (which I was totally ok with). I took a few practice laps and then waited for my race.
I took the second row and settled in behind a woman I know is fast. This is what I do. I’m not going to pretend I belong on the front line. But I’ll line up behind the faster racer in the front and ride her coattails through the start. This works pretty well for me most of the time, and did for me that day. I had a solid start and found myself in a tight pack as the wide track of grass dwindled to a single stream of racers. I was toward the rear of the lead pack which was terrific.
Halfway through the first lap, I passed a racer and then immediately made a misjudgment on a corner and overshot it, and found myself apologizing to the group for not keeping my line. They were very forgiving, probably because I gave up 2 or 3 spots in my mistake. Humbled, I settled in mid pack. Toward the end of the first lap, I saw my friend Jess who had a terrific start and was cooking though the course get tangled up with a junior. For unknown reasons, race organizers started the group of 5 juniors before the group of 17 grown women racers. I overheard the organizer say to the official “Did I really decide to put the juniors in front of the women?” Yes. Yes you did. Anyway, the junior slid out in a corner and Jess’ bike tangled with his. I was bummed for her, this is one of the things I dread about racing with the juniors and I’ve had my share of close calls. As a mom, my instinct is to be protective and encouraging to these kids. Juniors make mistakes as we all do, but no one wants to interfere or cloud with a young racer’s first experience. In my opinion, it’s stressful for them and stressful for us. As this calamity happened, at least 2 women got caught behind her, and I slipped by in the only opening, regaining what I lost in my earlier mistake.
During the second lap I was feeling pretty good. I hadn’t blown up but was working hard and feeling much less “meh” and much more “Yeah!” I passed another rider and was widening the gap. I could just see the next woman to catch disappear around the next visible corner, and I thought maybe I could reel her in. I had at least another lap and was feeling great when I entered a fun section of woods which lead riders down a hill of ribbon thin patch of single track and up again. At the bottom of the ribbon was a couple of protruding rocks. I FLEW down this chute, hit a rock and heard the rock hit my rim. I cranked up the hill and was immediately concerned about my rear tire. Within another 200 yards, the tire had gone totally flat as I closed out the second lap. My race was over.*
I would have taken 7th had I stayed inflated and held my position. 7 of 17 would have been a really awesome result–probably a better result than I have ever achieved.
I’m disappointed I did not ride more conservatively in that section. It’s not something I would have been worried about and obviously I was not worried about screaming down that hill at that speed and hitting that little rock. I had inflated my tires to about 50-55 psi because I was concerned about the rocks on course and I know I tend to ride over anything no matter how rough (read: she’s a MTBer at heart). At one point early in the race I thought to myself “I should have put less air in the tires,” because I was bouncing around so much. Enough Monday morning quarterbacking–I’m bummed out I flatted. But on the bright side, I was riding well and feeling strong and I just need to keep THAT feeling going for the next race.
Now to keep up with the training and find another race and someone to watch kiddo for half a day!
- Note: I was one of 5 women who DNF’d that particular race. A total of 25 racers across all categories and a total of 173 racers DNF’d this event. WOW. The only race that did not have a racer DNF was the fat bike category. So at least I was in good company.