Thursday, December 20, 2007
Sorry it's taken me a week to get around to updating. It's that hectic time of year and I guess my motivation was low for posting to the blog :)
I had an excellent time in Kansas City cheering on all of the Wisconsin racers and just getting to hang out with some great folks. The conditions were crazy - each day was completely different. Thursday was frozen icy ground, Friday was a muddy mess with a few frozen ruts, Saturday was snowing and windy with 3 new inches of white stuff covering the ground, and then finally Sunday was lots of frozen ruts with snow and an inch of mud on top. I think half the fun of spectating was watching the racers battle out the elements!
It was spectacularly sunny for my race and the earlier events had helped soften up the top layer of ground to make it good and muddy. The frozen ruts underneath, though, kept things interesting and you had to really pay attention to what lines you wanted to take and just keep the pedals moving. My few UCI points from Jingle Cross gave me a third row start. I was trying not to be too obvious about my excitement to just be lined up in a race with Katie Compton, Georgia Gould, and other big racers. And to be in a field of about 80 racers was incredible.
We started off on the pavement and I had a good position going through the muddy ditch. A short time later on a sweeping left hand corner I had some trouble keeping the bike going straight and got up close with nature in the woods. It was pretty annoying - I sort of fell over the top of my bike and was all tangled up in a tree. A spectator helped get my bike out and I jumped on and tried to regain my 20 or so lost spots. The course was difficult - it was hard to pass and you had to really focus on what line to take. It was tempting to just follow the wheel in front of you but that wasn't always the best line and if they crashed then you were in trouble too. I was doing alright but later on in the lap I got stuck in a rut and did another pseudo endo. Back on the bike, through another muddy ditch, and up and over the stairs. Then the off camber loopy stuff got me - it was SUPER slick and muddy and I totally went down on my left side. I was back up quickly and the already raucous crowds cheered even more. I tried to power on the pavement but by this point my positioning was not so great. Check out the muddy pic - thanks Renee for all these photos!
The second lap went better and I maintained my spot well and didn't have any spectacular crashes. By this point I was really having fun out there - I mean I'm at Nationals, there are hundreds of cheering fans - a huge bunch of them from Wisco and cheering my name, the conditions are extreme but that's what makes cross exciting! Trying to ride smooth through the mud and frozen bumpy ruts was challenging - but it was really fun too.
I dabbed a few times but started the third lap hoping to just finish it off and enjoy the moment as much as I could while still trying to move up. I was sliding around a few corners and one of them I went down in, about halfway through the lap I heard a loud bang and thought I just hit a rut. A little while later I could feel my back rim hitting the ground - flat tire. I was right before the stair section so I got off, shouldered the bike, and ran. I think this is where I was telling Renee that I had a flat. My plan was just to run and I had this sneaking suspicion that KFC (that's Katie F'n Compton - her nickname - I love it!) was soon to lap many of us for the win. So I ran through the muddy off cambers with the cheering crowds encouraging me. I got passed by maybe 5 girls. I made it to the pavement and I pulled off to the far left and started a slow jog - sure enough as I was about 100 meters from the line Katie comes around me, arms in the air for the solo victory. I get off the course before crossing the line - officially one lap down and in 48th place. I'll take it - I would have ran the entire lap just to finish but it would have been REALLY frustrating.
HUGE thanks to so many people for making this trip so memorable and helping out so much - JP, Glen, Renee, and Dave especially. I had a blast hanging out with all the Wisco folks and watching our riders help make WI the 4th state in the point count for Nationals. Congratulations to our new National Champs - Anna in 17-18 girls, Diane in 55-59 women, Bjorn in U23 men, and Marko in Singlespeed (technically not a nationally sanctioned race but darn impressive!). There were many other podium finishes and I really enjoyed being a spectator for some great races. The atmosphere at Nationals was unreal and I seriously have never had so much fun before at a cycling event. If you're on the fence for going next year I HIGHLY recommend it.
So that's it - my better late than never update! I'll try to do a recap of the season in the next week or so. For now I'm enjoying some time off the bike!
Happy Holidays everyone!!