The Hurt Locker

I know people who refer to cyclecross racing as “getting in the hurt locker for 60 minutes”. Fortunately it’s all guys that say that and my racing time was only 40 minutes.

Don’t worry Sully didn’t let me race with the waterbottle cage

Sully finished building up my bike the day before the race and brought it by my work so I could try it out. Oh man, that looks soo good! I immediately jumped on it, nothing graceful, more of jumping onto my inner thigh and sliding my body into the right position and finding the pedals. “How does the reach feel?” “Uh, pretty aggressive. Maybe we (and by that I meant Sully) should flip the stem and try that”. He did and it felt better, which meant I could practice my cross mounts a little more. “See you got it, just go slow, everyone else will be be, you don’t look as awkward as you feel.” Well that was a relief, I was assuming most of the girls in my category (cat 4, it’s my first race so let’s not get ahead of ourselves) would know what they were doing as it was halfway through the season. I rode it around a bit more before relinquishing it so I could get back to work.

We took off the next morning with two matching bikes (yes we just became that couple) and enough gear between us to make you think we were going back to Fruita. It was a short drive to the venue, about 50 minutes which was just enough time to ask Sully all of my questions. “Who will be in my category? How do I get over the barriers? Will everyone else be running? How does the scoring system work? When do I move up to Cat 3? What do I do if I have a mechanical or a flat?” He being the patient guy that he is, answered each one and then told me to watch “Joey’s okay” and told me that it probably wouldn’t be that bad, no matter what. 

Click on the link to watch, well not you mom. Don’t watch.

 We got there grabbed our numbers, changed and started warming up and preriding the course. I was a little anxious because I had never ridden a singlespeed, let alone raced one before. Sully was good about riding around with me and pointing out things I should be mindful of, ride up this, don’t mount back up here, run that section. On the backside of one of the hills it was completely muddy and rutted out. I tried to ride down the side of the hill but slid all the way down before having to up clip before I got completely caked in mud. I got

This was after 1 lap

out of the the corner I was stuck in and clipped back in to attempt some muddy “S” curves which fed directly into a steep embankment to get back up over the hill. I threw as much power as I could to get up but it was a fruitless effort and I lost any traction I had before sliding down. I fell into the side of the hill which did two things, stopped me from sliding down all the way and got my new, shiny bar tape muddy, maybe no one will know it’s my first race. I got up and climbed out of what I imagine was a similar situtation the mammoths at the Mammoth Site found themselves in when they were battling to get out, but unlike those little guys I had a bike to wrestle with too. Getting to the top I scrapped what mud I could off and “cross mounted back up”. The rest of the warm up lap was pretty uneventful. Afterwards I went and changed my knickers into shorts and took my thermal jersey off and changed my shoes because the bottoms had become so caked in mud I couldn’t even see the cleat, let alone find the pedal with them. I pedaled around on the road and picked Sully’s brain some more. 

At the starting line, because it was my first race I was in the very back, with about 3 other first timers. We took of- I didn’t get the hole shot but settled into a rhythm in the pack, we

Here we go!

went down a steep decline before hitting a short flat area the goes right into a steep incline. The girl in front of me couldn’t make it up which caused a rippling effect of everyone having to get off. I hopped off and ran around her and kept running as the next section was a steep hike up, plateau, steep hike up and then you were at the top of the muddy section. People tried to mount up here but I just kept ducking and diving and running around them. The girls that tried to ride it were getting stuck in the mud and I did my best to scamper around them. I didn’t even attempt to mount back up but kept running and up the steep embankment. This is also where the hecklers were perched, which is a great place to yell things at people and really try to crush their souls. They were yelling things, nothing terribly inappropriate but my mother reads this so I’ll refrain from repeating it. The nice thing about being the only singlespeed is they were super excited to see me and started cheering. Which was nice. I hopped back on my bike and started a flat portion. I got passed by a few people who were able to push a larger gear. 

A little dirt never hurt.

Next is a short hill that you go down before more flats and then a short steep up hill and with only one gear there was only one option. Get up the hill. I stood and pulled and pushed and probably made some grunting noises to get up. I made it and there was just enough time to recover before sailing into swooping “S” corners. A girl went down in front of me on one of the corners which tripped me up but I scooted around her. Getting out of that section leads right down into a section of two small logs, I unclipped and hopped off to run them. I got up that hill and jumped back on just in time for a short steep decline. Whoa whoa whoa- get clipped in- this in not safe, as my bike bobbled over some ruts and my legs flayed out to the sides. I definitely ran over one of the course markers before zigzaging over to the other side and hitting another course marker with my other leg. I got clipped in just in time to have to unclip and hop over two more logs and run up a hill before attempting to get back on. The mount up was a little smoother that time because I was on a flat surface and not acquiring speed. You make a hard right and descend down to the pit area where you climb up a longer hill. The first lap I got stuck and had to hop off the bike and run up. I got passed here but stayed hot on her wheel. We looped around went through a few more “S” turns before racing around to the start. Whew! Lap 1 is done 3 more to go. The next two were similar to the first, except no one crashed, I was able to manage to get around the girl in front of me when she attempted to ride down the muddy section and I just ran around her. The guys who were heckling helped me out by calling out lines to run up, which was nice of them. Apparently it was too early to do a beer feed, that was later in the day. On the third lap I was able to make it up the long climb that I had to run up previously, which I was pleased with. As the race wore on my dismounts got sloppier and it started to look more like an uncoordinated version of myself, but with tight hips. I come up on a lady on a mountain bike on the fourth lap and went back and forth with her through the “S” curves and over the barriers. She had a mechanical which is why she was on that bike and leading when she dashed into the pit to switch out bikes. I could see her and realized that we would be convererging at the same moment. I gave a good push to get in front of her and realized if I wanted to keep my lead it would take every bit of effort I had to get up the hill and keep her off, especially on the flat when she could push a bigger gear. I managed to get up the hill, riding, out of the saddle and grunting but did it. 

This is when you get in the hurt locker

 Okay last push before the finish. Do not let her beat you. I put my head down and rode but remained conscious of where she was at, one fault on my part and I would have to surrender my lead to her. We came around the last corner and I sprinted into the finish, victorious in my attempt to ward her off and the fact that I finished the race and hadn’t thrown up in the middle. I got through the finish but always seem to have an issue with keeping track of my laps so I saw Sully and asked him “am I done?!??” He looked at my puzzled and told me that I was. I rode around the fence and he asked me how it was “Really fun.” And then I started coughing, “Are you going to throw up.” I wasn’t really sure at this point if it was going to happen or not but managed a “No” in between hacks. I headed back to the car, unloaded, changed and then hung out for the next few hours for Sully and the other Raleigh team mechanic to do their race. We stayed for the men’s pro race as well and it was really fun to watch, those guy are so smooth going over logs and strategic in their riding as well so it never hurts to watch how the pros do it. Before we left I checked the board to see how I did, I thought that I had only beaten the two women who I had passed but ended up 9 out of 18 on a singlespeed, and I was pretty pleased with my effort. I found that I really like racing/riding a singlespeed because it’s so simplistic, you don’t have to worry about shifting at all, you only have one option. Plus gears are shifty. 

I was thinking of racing the weekend afterwards but got a little caught up in my GRE studying instead. This weekend I’m in Michigan to race Iceman on a tandem, which we did a pre-ride today and it’s going to be awesome. More on that later.  

Dream Team!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s