Monday, December 13, 2010

Crossing the Line

Last Saturday was my last cyclocross (CX) race of the season. If you asked me on Oct 15, before my first CX race this year, if I would be racing CX in December, I would have said, no. Last year my CX season ended with me feeling burned out and I questioned if I had done the right thing by upgrading to Cat 3. I told myself that I just raced too long into the season, and I would not do that again.

This past year has been incredible, and I have come leaps and bounds with figuring out what cross is all about and how to extend my fitness into the fall. This past season I did 9 CX races, won 2 of those races plus some cash, and diced it up with some pretty fast ladies. So here I am, 2 weeks into December, writing my last race report for 2010:

Hudson Valley Cross (HVCX) was a small race just north of New Jersey that was being put on by my friends Tim and Ed. Yes, December 11 is a tad late in the season to still be racing, but these guys put together great courses and I wanted to show my appreciation and support the event. In addition, they had a decent payout, so I had the chance to win some cash while having a hoot.

Unfortunately, the turnout was really light, but the venue was as nice as I expected, nestled in a small park overlooking the Hudson River. Everyone was cheery when I arrived, and I quickly hopped out and walked the course with my camera to see all the little berries and views that I would inevitably miss during my race when I would be tearing my lungs out chasing girls around the course.

At this point I did not really feel like I was in a racing mood. I had only been on my bike Tuesday the week before and was feeling stiff from not exercising. On top of that I drank a few glasses wine with dinner the night before. I am telling you this, but not necessarily advising anyone to do this. I usually avoid or limit the amount of alcohol consumed the night before a race, but had let that rule slip as well as a few other dietary restrictions for the last race of the year. I had already begun to let my guard down for the holidays.

There were only 3 women that took the line in the open/elite field. Even sadder was that there were no men elite’s at all. Us ladies were the main event, and only a handful of people, mostly our husbands gathered around to cheer. Christina’s husband, Tommy was the lap horn blower. The whole setting was actually very comforting, considering the pain that would be unleashed in seconds.

Once under way, the leader set a hard pace that put me in a bother, but I did manage to hold her wheel. I have the advantage of pushing a little harder into my fitness because my bike handling skills are second nature from racing a mountain bike for 17 years. So although I felt close to out of control, I was able to keep it upright and stay on the bike in the first technical section.

I eventually found my stride and I decided to take a risk and pass the leader on a long straight. My thinking was that if I could stay in front to the first turn, I could put some distance on her in the twisting decent. It worked, and I held pretty steady at about 8 seconds ahead for 2 laps. Putting the gas on to pass, had my stomach on the verge of cramping. Once I got leveled out, I was able to pull away increasing the gap even more, ending the race and the season on a very positive tone. At the time I crossed the finish line, I crossed the line from my race season to winter. From that day on, my eyes will be looking to 2011.

Sunday as rain fell, I stayed in the house and decorated my Christmas tree like people do this time of year. I was not a bike racer that day. I did not even think about riding my bike. I drank more wine with dinner and enjoyed the feeling of being done. Monday I got out for my first winter ride, and it started to snow. How perfect, I thought.

Dan, my pick for most improved mountain biker of the year!

No comments: