Monday, November 26, 2007

Jingle Cross

So I had a lovely time in Iowa City for Jingle Cross and my first UCI cross racing experience. I took 5th place both days and all in all was happy with how the races played out. A rather long winded weekend recap follows but first and foremost some shout outs:

My teammate Tammy and her husband John do a fantastic job putting on this race and the new UCI designation this year is due to all the hard work they (and their awesome crew of volunteers!) put in - so thanks to them for making it happen. Jingle Cross is an amazing regional event and it is so much fun to get together with so many cool crossers.

photo by paul forsythe

Team Kenda Tire was going to have racers in several events all weekend plus our manager Paul and mechanic Mike were in attendance so it was sure to be a good time. Mike is a total life saver and he had a tent with the sides all down to block the wind plus a propane heater! Not to mention Oreos and frosted animal crackers post race! He is incredible and I cannot thank him (and his wonderful wife Mary!) enough for all of the help throughout the weekend. I was feeling quite pampered with him in the pit and washing our bikes after the race, Mary taking my coat at the line, our teammate Brooke helping however she could, Paul helping and taking photos, and so many others (JP and Michelle, Renee and Dave, Gordy and Diane, Heidi and Greg, just to name a few) out on the course cheering my name. I am constantly in awe of all the selfless acts and support that people provide and it motivates me to give my all in the races. Huge thanks to everyone!!

Mo and I got to the course early on Saturday to preride and cheer on our teammate Deb in the Beginner race. Thankfully the sun was out because the temps were in the low 30s. I can handle the cold but I really would rather not have to deal with any precip or cloudy skies plus the cold. Long course with lap times to be about 8 minutes. Lots of flat straightaways, a slippery steep muddy hill run up, a sand pit through a barn, some muddy ditches, and a very long winding climb with a screaming fast descent. All in all a course that suits me pretty well. Mo had a great race and took a solid 3rd place in the Masters Womens event. We watched Mike switch into racer mode and our amazing mechanic led a field of over 100 Cat3/4 riders into the first set of barriers - nice job Mike! He finished a very respectable 68th.
photo by paul forsythe

After warming up on the roads I lined up with 15 other women for the race. Some heavy hitters in the mix. It was great to have teammates on the line too with Andrea, Catherine, and Debbie all making the trip. Off we go and almost immediately some girls tangle bars to my right and go down, I get around and move up before the barriers when there is another crash. Luckily I avoid that too and continue to hold my top 5 position over the slippery muddy run up. I have a heck of a time with my footing and take little baby steps up the hill with my bike shouldered (believe it or not the first time I've shouldered the bike in a race - look at my horrible form!)
photo by paul forsythe

One of the River City girls takes off and I'm in the chase group of about 4. We get to the hill and I get past more riders and over the top am actually in second position. I am tentative on the downhill though and lose some time. By the start of the next lap the other River City girl sneaks past and then I dab in the sand and let Linda get through. I am now sitting in fourth and am riding all alone for the rest of the lap. I can see Sydney coming up strong behind me and she passes me. I keep her in my sights and on the next lap she has some difficulty in the muddy ditch section and I am almost on her wheel at the top of the climb. She is powerful though and she puts some time on me. There is one woman behind me who seems to be making up time so on the bell lap I focus on trying to keep my position. That plan is almost ruined as I slip on the hill and nearly go down. Luckily I make it through and push on to finish fifth.
photo by paul forsythe

It was a fun race and I felt good but I know I am a chicken on the descent and was braking way too much. Later Catherine tells me she never touched her brakes and could take a clean line down. Um . . . yeah, I have to work on that :) She finishes 7th, Debbie 10th, and Andrea unfortunately crashed and was unable to finish.

A bunch of us went out for dinner that night and we even took a dip in the hot tub and a few trips down the waterslide at the host hotel. And then Monique provided us with a quality ab workout from laughing with this little incident. She's in the shower and Debbie and I are watching TV when I decide to go down to the lobby and get some tea. I get up to leave and see water flooding out from under the bathroom door. I knock on the door and tell her there is water everywhere and ask what's going on. We hear her scream and we just start laughing as we try to imagine how that much water has ended up on the floor.

All of a sudden we hear a scraping sound as she begins using the ice bucket to try to scoop water off the floor. I'm laughing my head off and Mo is in there cursing but we can tell she is also amused by the humor of it all. Turns out she put her swimsuit in the sink to rinse it before she hopped in the shower but then forgot to turn the faucet off. And ten minutes later . . . well, there were several gallons of water on the floor. And the carpet was still damp in the morning. Nice one Mo!

Next day we get to do it all over again except this time backwards and somehow the sand got left out. So that crazy descent turned into one long hill run up with a fast but not so scary descent. It was tough because the hill kept going up so you could try to jump on early or just keep running and get on further up. Deb had a strong showing in the Beginner race and had it not been for a few bad crashes probably would have made it on the podium. Mo moved up to take 2nd in her race and Mike rode hard and ended up 66th.

I didn't get clipped in as quickly as I would have liked and had to work to move myself up on the first lap.
photo by paul forsythe
Over the top of the hill I was in the top 5 and after a lap with the two River City girls and Sydney off the front it was myself, Megan, and Devon in a group. We worked fairly well together for maybe 3 laps. They were shouldering the bike up the climb while I decided to push today.
photo by renee callaway

I alternated between jumping on after the first steep section and running further - unable to really get a gap with either method. I was also riding the second muddy ditch but two to go I followed the lead of my chase partners and ran it and found I put a gap on them. I saw that Linda was gaining on us and by bell lap we were a group of 4. The last time up the hill everyone stalled at the top of the steep section so I just ran past them and hopped on further up. I had gotten a bit of a gap here and came flying down hoping to power through the rest of the course and hold my lead.
photo by renee callaway

I was managing to do that but then in the twisty sections through and around the barns Linda was able to make it up to my wheel. It was just the two of us and as we entered the final gravel straight to the finish I shifted down, got in my drops and began sprinting. As could be expected she came around me maybe 25m before the finish for 4th and I ended up 5th again. Still, I was satisfied with my race and the finish and was happy that it ended up so close.

All in all it was a really fun weekend and some good experience before I go to Nationals. The UCI points should be very helpful in getting a somewhat decent starting position too! I'm really looking forward to these last three races of my very long season - I'm at 61 race days for the year! - but a couple weeks off will definitely be nice too!


Anonymous said...

thanks for the writing, so happy your experience at jingle cross was lovely and successful

Velogoddess said...

Awesome work KW - see you this weekened! Let's have a talk about that shouldering form.....